In continuation of the previous article of the “IIT BHU Alumni Startup Showcase Series”, which sheds light on the entrepreneurial ventures taking place among the Institute’s alumni, we bring you the story of iMumz, a product of Pruoo Healthcare Technologies Private Limited. iMumz is a pregnancy app, which helps parents follow a healthy and scientifically proven lifestyle to provide a nurturing womb environment.
Founded in 2019, iMumz provides mothers with weekly plans covering a wide range of activities, including everyday meditation, prenatal yoga, stories to inculcate virtues, nutritional diet, harmonious music, baby bonding activities, brainteasers, and live AMA sessions. It has raised over $300k in its first round of investments (lead investors include Titan Capital, Enzia Ventures and AngelList). Having given extensive guidance to more than 250k expecting or new mothers, their unique solution has won the esteemed AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge in the health and wellness category in 2020.
Pruoo Healthcare Technologies was co-founded by two of our distinguished alumni: Mr. Ravi Teja Akondi (Mechanical Engineering, 2017), the CEO, and Mr. Mayur Dhurpate (Civil Engineering, 2017), the CTO of the emerging startup. In an interview, Ravi answered some of our questions regarding his life, iMumz, and the maternal healthcare sector.
With this brief insight, let’s dive right into his incredible story:
You started this startup from the ground up and have already helped thousands of mothers. If we trace back, what role does your childhood play in all this?
Hailing from a small town in Andhra Pradesh, I was very inquisitive as a child. I always drew inspiration from my mother, and thanks to her, I inculcated the habit of leaving any place I am involved with better than before. This habit has stayed with me throughout my life, be it my school, our college, or this company; I always try to look at the bigger picture and strive for a better future.
What are the special memories you have from your time at IIT BHU, and how did it help you later in your journey?
With a smile, Ravi expressed immense gratitude. The man I am today was born in the five years I spent in Banaras. Luckily, I always found the best seniors, or should I say they found me. One of them introduced me to the world of books, and I soon fell in love with the outlook they presented. With the aim to build a strong reading culture in college, I helped establish a society for the same. I have always been a curious soul: exploring, talking to different people, and travelling to gain perspective and broadening my horizons; hence I actively volunteered in organising Kashiyatra, the institute’s annual cultural fest, and became its convener in my 4th year. I spent my free time exploring every nook and cranny of this breathtaking city. “Galli galli mein ek world wonder hai!” It opened my mindset to yet another level. Further, I was introduced to meditation by my seniors, so I joined the courses of "The Art Of Living", this was something that was about to change my life forever.
The team at iMumz has individuals from remarkably diverse backgrounds. How did all of you come together, and what should we look for in fellow co-founders?
It was during the sessions of “The Art Of Living” that I met Mayur. We became great friends and later co-founded the company together. “The Art Of Living” soon led me to my mentor, Mr. Rajesh Jagasia, the 3rd co-founder of iMumz. Sir was then a meditation coach there. Finding the perfect set of co-founders is essential. An ideal team of co-founders should have convergence in the vision and divergence in their skill set.
You left your job at quite an early stage in your career. What was that like?
Mayur and I both left our corporate jobs a year after graduating. We then volunteered at “ The Art Of Living '' for over a year and a half before we finally launched iMumz. There we were under the constant guidance of Rajesh Sir, and we learned a lot. But these weren’t easy times; although our parents supported us throughout, they were concerned about us earning below our means. I would often find myself wallowing in insecurities on seeing my friends, my classmates making way more money than I was at that time. Nevertheless, we were resilient enough to go forward with what we wanted to do, and in the end, it was this resilience that gave birth to iMumz.
All of us know how important building a culture and a vision is for a startup. What is the collective vision behind iMumz, and how are you cultivating the culture in your team?
Founders should always have great clarity about the vision and mission of their startup. I would suggest students to read the book “Start With Why” by Simen Sinek. Whenever you want to launch a feature, it must always be in sync with your vision. Here at iMumz, we realised what meditation could do for us and later on what it can do for pregnant women. We wanted to create a healthy, happier world by helping our to-be moms. The culture at any startup acts as the motivating and the binding factor; since we are relatively new, we continue to build our culture every day. We are on a constant lookout for committed, mission-driven, and passionate individuals, and instead of micromanaging, we try to give people ownership.
The COVID crisis has severely affected maternal healthcare in our country. How has iMumz stepped up in such difficult times?
iMumz has always aimed to take care of health holistically. Our research led us to believe that mothers would be under constant stress because of not being able to go for regular checkups. Keeping our mums calm and happy became a priority in this crisis, so we started the ‘Doctor’s Live’ sessions, wherein mothers can ask their queries from the country’s top obstetricians. Till date, we have answered more than 50,000 questions and conducted more than 600 live sessions. To ensure complete womb care, we further introduced live meditation and breathing classes, and mothers have completed more than 2.5 million minutes of meditation with us.
Stresses towards new or expecting mothers due to a girl child or an unwanted child are sadly quite prevalent in our country. What’s your take on this, and how can we improve the grim situation?
We must understand that husbands have a vital role to play. We find ourselves taken aback sometimes when the significant other is not able to understand the basic needs of pregnancy. Now, it's a harsh reality that centuries of patriarchal thoughts cannot be eradicated in an instant; we need to educate our men constantly, and we are sincerely trying to do so through our different social media avenues. Husbands need to shield their wives from any social stresses and ensure that their needs are fulfilled.
What are the failures that you have encountered over the years?
One can't have a startup and not face difficulties and failures. For us, it started when we picked up the wrong model, in which we were trying to act as the intermediary between mothers and gynaecologists; we spent around 4-5 months working tirelessly on that to no avail with our funds evaporating. Seeing a lack of improvement, we changed our model to focus more on the mother; we spent months trying to reach mothers physically at maternal centres to sign up for a WhatsApp text-based service. We faced lots of rejections. Naturally, why would parents give two bachelors their phone numbers for something concerning their child? But this wasn't it; we soon met another low. After informing mothers for about two months, we were exhausted, so we decided to stop sending these texts. Soon parents started reverting that they hadn't received texts of late and that they were pretty dependent on them. This was one of the earliest verifications we had received, so we pulled ourselves right back up to continue.
What does the road ahead look like for iMumz?
We want to ensure that every baby born in this world is healthy and happy by empowering parents with the complete toolkit. We have several exciting things coming out soon. We plan to extend our services from only being prenatal to infants below the age of 4 years. We are also planning on personalising the care more by introducing wearable devices which will allow us to monitor the mother and the baby better. And we’ll soon be going global.
What advice would you like to give to all the buzzing minds out there looking to make it big in the startup scene?
It is of the utmost importance to have the right mentor; they’ll guide you through the storms. Focus on building your willpower; your resilience stems from your Why. Always be very clear with the problem you’re trying to solve, why you do what you do, and where you see your product in the future. Travel, explore and seize every opportunity to build your perspective; it’ll be your unique outlook that will allow you to create authentic solutions. Try to make little progress every day; these small wins strengthen you and eventually lead you to your goal. Always build in a lean way, avoiding silly errors because these errors combine over time, leading to failures. Many times the results will crush you, but I believe that that is the beauty of the process; the ups and the downs humble you.
This article has been prepared by Paras Bajpai (Mathematics and Computing, 2025)