“I am doing something very different from what I had planned when I joined ISB,” says Dr. Ramya Gujjula, CEO, NexRea and ISB PGP Co 2014 alumnus. Ramya joined ISB with the thought of evolving as a management professional and progressing in the same line of the field in the healthcare industry, but ISB pulled her out of that comfort zone. “ISB gave me the confidence to create and roll out next-generation innovative technology solutions that weren’t existing previously. I even bagged my first project at NexRea through the ISB network.”
A dentist-turned augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) healthtech expert, Ramya’s startup works at the intersection of exponential technologies and healthcare. “It was my childhood dream to become a doctor. But by the time I became one, I had exciting ideas other than clinical practice.” Ramya started her career at an e-learning company that was creating 3D content for medical students. She then did her postgraduation in clinical research and regulatory affairs and went on to manage clinical trials of vaccines at Sanofi Pasteur. It was around this time that two things changed: One, she started exploring AR/VR/AI (artificial intelligence) technologies, and two, the management bug bit her. “While working, I realised the value of having a management perspective as one moves up the corporate ladder,” she says.
Once at ISB, it was humbling for her to study and work with peers from diverse backgrounds and achievements. “ISB was an amazing experience! It not just taught me management, but lent me a distinct big picture perspective towards everything in life.” The biggest learning for her was the art of prioritising, both at work and in life. The PGP programme also powered a whole new spectrum of skill sets which came very handy when she delved into entrepreneurship. “Before ISB, I wasn’t sure if I would have built a startup. The learnings from the programme gave me the confidence to venture out, even in industries outside of healthcare, like the EdTech industry and the Government sector,” she remarks.
Ramya founded NexRea in 2015, a year after graduating from ISB. NexRea provides AR and VR-based product demonstration and training solutions for the Medical Device and Education industries. Her clientele includes the likes of GE Healthcare, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Siemens, Varian, Horiba, and the National Health Authority. NexRea is also one of the top two startups selected from across India for the prestigious CB-MAP programme of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana. “As I recollect, the Planning an Entrepreneurial Venture (PAEV) course was the starting point for my startup. At the outset, notes from that course helped in making key decisions, and whenever I was stuck somewhere, I sought feedback from my professors at ISB. They helped me with not only startup-related advice but also with how to balance my work and life.”
The learnings from the programme have also helped her tide over the initial hiccups that NexRea faced with the advent of Covid-19. “Like every other business, ours was also impacted. But this is where ISB learnings came in handy. We were taught to sail through uncertainties, adapt and pivot from there. I started examining the way we were executing our projects at NexRea and why the pandemic affected us. This reflection helped us come up with a gamechanging WebAR technology that has been very successful over the past year and a half. The affinity for exploring newer strategies and the power to adapt to the changing market needs has come from ISB.”
On the occasion of Doctor’s Day, Ramya says to her fellow doctors, “Do not hesitate to try different things, even those that are polar opposites of clinical practice. It’s not the same world anymore, so explore, venture out, be brave enough to experiment and achieve whatever you want to. But don’t forget to be happy in the process!”