Avegen Health CEO: Delay external funding ‘as long as possible’

Dr. Nayan Kalnad is the CEO and co-founder of Avegen Health, a company that creates patient-facing apps for people living with long-term illnesses such as HIV and diabetes.

Avegen Health has created a cloud-based platform, called HealthMachine, that customers can use to tailor apps for specific health conditions. The apps are used by more than one million patients in 14 countries.

Founded in 2014 by Kalnad and Neeraj Apte, Avegen Health has been going since its launch. Kalnad runs the company from its London headquarters, while its co-founder and a large team are based in India.

In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Kalnad discusses why you should put off external fundraising “as long as possible,” why we should be excited about augmented reality, and the work he’d do in another life.

1.What funding advice would you give to a new founder?

Nayan Kalnad: If possible, delay external fundraising as much as possible. This means you can stay in control and set your own pace, while figuring out what your business or idea will really need. Determining the market fit of products is really difficult and can take a lot of time and energy.

If you’re caught up in the seemingly endless cycle of increasing VC towers, it can be difficult to carve out the headspace you’ll need. Only fundraise when the time is right and you can enter the process with clarity and confidence.

2. What are the best and worst parts of your job?

NK: One of the best parts is the opportunity to work with passionate people who want to make a difference. And then continue to build something together that can impact the lives of millions of people around the world. So far, more than one million people with long-term health conditions have downloaded or used the digital health products we helped create; it’s an incredible feeling.

What’s worse is that once a valued colleague moves on to a new challenge. It can be very difficult to say goodbye to someone who has played a key role in helping the company get to where it is today.

3. How to prevent burnout?

NK: Nobody is immune to burnout and there is no magic formula to prevent it, but there are things I find helpful in keeping burnout at bay. First, I remind myself that I am fallible and that mistakes are opportunities to learn. I also try to get plenty of regular exercise, which helps a lot. And, finally, it’s knowing how to seek professional help if things get overwhelming.

4. Which emerging technology is the most promising?

NK: Augmented reality – it will bring the world closer together. In healthcare in particular, this will lead to new ways to support people with long-term illnesses and bring clinical expertise where it needs to be, quickly and seamlessly.

5. In another life you would be?

NK: A software developer! I have a clinical background and my co-founder Neeraj is the brains of the software. I gained a solid working understanding of software development and would like to have more time to hone my skills. I think that would have provided a really interesting career path!

Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series featuring the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative tech startups, scale-ups and unicorns – is published every Friday.

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