Opportunities dont knock on your door. They come and go and you just feel them. Grab one when you feel it !
Karthik Raghavendran, our next pathbreaker, is the Founder of a startup that aims to build a smart wearable device to accurately diagnose neurological disorders.
Karthik talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about an opportunity in the form of a newspaper article on cancer detection that sealed his desire to apply technology to solve healthcare challenges.
For students, when you know what you want, there is no pressure from society because you are in execution mode, making the right moves towards your goals. Look around for opportunities !
Karthik, tell us about your background
I was born in Tirunelveli and did my schooling in Madurai,Tamilnadu. During my school days,I was an active participant of many clubs.I have played for Madurai District Cricket Association and have represented my school’s Basketball team. I was very active in academics and co-curricular activities too. I had a dynamic school life where I explored every given opportunity. Right from my school days,I had a deep sense of curiosity on things around me which eventually got me interested in Science.
When I was ninth grade , I read a newspaper article about a teenage student in the USA who invented a Cancer-detection strip.This got me crazily motivated and was one of the turning points in my life. On the same day, I drafted a mail randomly to six professors of Madurai Kamaraj University mentioning that I am interested in Cancer research and wanted to join their lab. Luckily,One professor from Madurai Kamaraj University was so interested in my passion and he let me in to research in his lab during my ninth grade. From 9th grade to 12th grade, I used to go to his lab during my annual vacation and weekends.I have worked on two major research projects during the 4 years including “Identification of miRNAs in Breast cancer” and “Role of mesothelin in Cardiomyopathy”. I have also been exposed to various research techniques and lectures during that time. Those 4 years had a remarkable impact in my life.My professional science career started from then.
What did you study?
I did my B.tech in Biotechnology at SASTRA University,Thanjavur (Batch of 2019).
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?
I have always been interested in the Human brain and its complexities. My passion for Neurotechnology was majorly influenced by my own inner drive to know about the Human brain. My passion towards becoming an entrepreneur was majorly influenced by two great entrepreneurs namely Steve Jobs and Elon Musk.
Tell us about your career path
I was basically interested in science and research till my third year of college. I developed an electrochemical Biosensor for detecting a Breast cancer Biomarker in the sophomore year of my college. I have also done many research internships during my college days with the main motive of gaining exposure to diverse research fields.I got these internships mainly by cold mailing the professors.
During the third year of my college,I got an opportunity to take up a course on Neuroscience which literally changed my career path. I became deeply interested in how technology can be leveraged to quantitatively analyse and understand our own Brain. At the end of my third year,I made a strong decision to take up a career path in Neurotechnology and build great things which had the potential to impact Humanity.
From then on, I started hunting for research papers, networks and a lot of books and articles related to Neurotechnology.I also started taking online MOOC courses which is one of the best ways to explore a new subject. I fell in love with the subject and decided to build my own Neurotech startup one day. During my final year , I had only one intention which was to explore my passion to chart out the right path for me. For the final semester , I got an internship at the National Institute of Materials Science, Japan under my University’s Semester Abroad Program. My experience in Japan was really a memorable one. I explored various things ranging from research to startups in Japan by attending a lot of events, conferences and getting myself exposed to various research labs in that Institute.
I was never interested in a job and haven’t sat for even a single Job interview. After my college days,I was just thinking of ways to explore the field in a more deeper way. Incidentally at that time, my friend had a neurological issue and I took him to the best neurologist in my locality. After the consultation, I was really impressed by the knowledge and intelligence of the neurologist in diagnosing my friend’s problem. So, I decided to work with him somehow . The next day I got an appointment as a patient and went into his room. I asked if I could work with him as his clinical assistant because I was so excited to learn a lot from him. He was shocked initially by my unexpected way of asking but finally relented and accepted me as his clinical assistant.
How did you get your first break?
I worked with the neurologist for 4 months. When I was working in the Neurologist’s clinic, I did a lot of research on the topic of neurological disorders. I have also co-authored book chapters with the neurologist. When I was researching about many neurological disorders including epilepsy, Parkinson’s and Migraine, i found a lot of interesting gaps in the diagnostics process of these disorders which haven’t been solved yet. I decided to explore those gaps which eventually led to the creation of my startup.
At the end of 2019, I got an idea for solving a neurological problem by building an interesting product. From then on, I started building my team since the product requires a diverse set of talent. Currently, I am working with my team on building the product and beautifully crafting our startup.
What were the challenges you faced? How did you address them?
The biggest challenge was pressure from society for choosing a unique career path. My advice is, It is your life and you have to decide what you want.I have never felt these as real pressures because I am sure about what I am capable of.
Tell us about your work:
I am currently the Founder of a Pre-launch Neurotechnology startup in Chennai. Neurotechnology is a diverse field which is composed of majorly Neuroscience, Electronics, Materials science and Computer science. We need a diverse team in order to build stuff in this industry.
Our startup is basically trying to solve the problem of misdiagnosis of Neurological Disorders. We are in the process of building a smart wearable device which is automated end-to-end and is capable of detecting and classifying the disorders with great accuracy.
A typical day for me is very interesting because it starts from working on a range of things including building the product to growing my network to learning and executing all the other business aspects of the startup. I love almost every aspect of my job.
The benefit of your work to society?
The product that we are building and our future vision has the potential to impact the life of humanity in unimaginable ways. Our goal is to quantify the Brain and extend it to every application out there.
Any memorable work you did that is close to you?
Everyday is very memorable to me since I love the Job that I am doing.
Your advice to students?
I don’t want you all to take this as advice but I would like to share my thoughts on a career. There are an infinite number of career paths. Self analysis is very important before choosing any career path. Don’t be afraid to explore new career paths. Life is too short to not explore things. Until you find a career path which you really fall in love with, don’t stop searching and exploring. According to me, My profession should be a platform for me to express almost all my skills and talents.
My best wishes to all of you!!
My plan is to build great products for Humanity and leverage different technologies to create maximum impact on society.