Start-up of the week: Think Biosolution

13 Mar 2017

From left: Ash Watson, Upala Banerjee, Koushik Kumar Nundy, Shourjya Sanyal, Nitheen Kaperi and Subhabrata Mondal. Image: Think Biosolution

Our start-up of the week is Dublin-based Think Biosolution, which has developed a new technology that turns sports apparel into wellness trainers.

“My team and I are working to help fitness enthusiasts manage their health and wellbeing by exercising smarter,” explained Think Biosolution CEO and founder, Shourjya Sanyal.

The company’s product, QuasaR, is a wearable personal wellness trainer that helps users to manage their obesity, stress, heart and respiratory conditions by suggesting optimal exercise routines and duration, based on the user’s personal health and fitness goals.

‘Our ultimate goal will be to sell 1m units of QuasaR by entering newer markets like health insurance and the hospital ecosystem’

“QuasaR will allow users to work out better by tracking multiple health and fitness parameters available only to professional athletes in clinical settings, at the ease and price point of a wristband-based fitness tracker.”

The market

Start-up of the week: Think Biosolution

Image: Think Biosolution

“Our focus groups show that our best potential target market for QuasaR should be ‘people who want to achieve health and wellbeing by exercising smarter’,” Sanyal explained.

The sports apparel market is huge and is estimated to be €216bn globally, whereas the traditional sports equipment market targeted by B2C wristband-based activity trackers is €79bn, according to PwC.

“Of these, our total obtainable market is North America and the EU at €175bn, out of which the EU market is worth €67bn, according to Euromonitor.”

The founders

Sanyal has always had a passion for developing and commercialising cutting-edge technology.

He received his PhD from the School of Physics at UCD and won the Deloitte Top Technology Award in 2016, the Cruickshank High Achieving Merit Award fromEnterprise Ireland in 2014 and the CASL ACE Award in 2014.

“I was one of the youngest fellows of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Students’ alumni meet held in Germany, 2009, and received the KVPY fellowship in 2007 from the government of India.”

Sanyal also presented his vision on changing healthcare at the TEDx event in Dublin.

Co-founder Koushik Kumar Nundy is an electrical engineer, with several years of experience in high-tech start-ups.

Earning a graduate degree from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, he won the National Talent Search scholarship from the government of India, and the NGS scholarship from the government of Singapore. He also won at Startup Weekend in 2015, and has contributed to the fields of medical imaging, signal processing and wireless communication.

The technology

Start-up of the week: Think Biosolution

Image: Think Biosolution

QuasaR can measure multiple health parameters such as heart rate, respiratory rate, heart rate variability and blood oxygen saturation, by using a camera instead of a photodiode as a sensor.

This gives QuasaR higher accuracy and the measurements are significantly less affected by motion artefacts.

In addition, QuasaR allows users to achieve health goals such as building cardiac endurance over time, by using a voice-based interface to give real-time feedback, ensuring that the user is running at the minimum speed where they have their maximum heart rate.

“Our ultimate goal will be to sell 1m units of QuasaR by entering newer markets like health insurance and the hospital ecosystem.

“We are actively working with our medical adviser, Dr Robert Kelly, to start testing the robustness and ease of use of QuasaR in clinical settings.

“In the immediate future, we want to license QuasaR to sports and lifestyle apparel brands. We want to run a pre-trial by Q2 2017, and aim for a soft launch in Q3 2017. We then want to enter a licensing agreement with the apparel manufacturer in Q1 2018.”

Think Biosolution is also part of the Google Adopt a Startup programme, which has helped the company fine-tune its business development process.

“We have also been finalists in several start-up competitions abroad including Startup Olé, Spain and SPIE Startup Challenge, San Francisco,” said Sanyal.

A great place to start

“Understanding who is our first customer was perhaps the biggest challenge,” said Sanyal.

“The team is largely international and establishing lasting relationships in Dublin was an easy challenge, given the friendly nature of the Irish ecosystem.

“Hiring is always a key challenge, and we are extremely lucky to have a great team working full-time towards developing both the technical and business side of QuasaR.”

Sanyal believes Ireland has all the right ingredients for a strong start-up ecosystem.

“I think that Ireland is a great place to start, given that you can always get friendly advice and support from other start-ups, large internet giants like Google, and Government agencies like Enterprise Ireland. The venture capital ecosystem is also growing.”

Sanyal’s advice for fellow founders is to build a working prototype and test it as quickly as possible.

“A good company has a great idea, but a great company has a good execution.

“A start-up is a marathon, where you need to sprint often.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years