Interview with Chaitanya Dhareshwar, Co-Founder at GrandOpinion

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A luxury that we all enjoy when we are healthy is the luxury of not having to visit a doctor. But the moment we are required to visit a doctor for some serious health condition we instinctively feel the need of a second opinion, especially when the suggested course of action is a surgery or a major non-surgical procedure. This is where GrandOpinion can be of immense help to the patient and their family members.

GrandOpinion is an online provider of expert medical opinions through its network of doctors and experts of various specialities. The company has made professional healthcare consult possible beyond geographic boundaries by using their tech enabled platform. Another helpful feature of this health startup is that it collects and digitizes the medical history and health records of a patient the moment he starts a case with them. The company has received funding of $150K in its seed round from a Florida-based angel group. The funds raised will be utilized by the company to expand its network of medical experts and also further develop its service platform.

We recently had a conversation with one of its co-founder, Mr. Chaitanya Dhareshwar.

Give us a snapshot of your professional journey till now.

GrandOpinion has been around for a while; at least in concept. There was a time people used to travel a long distance to get a second opinion for their chronic health conditions/surgeries, but GrandOpinion changes all of that. Since 2013 we’ve brought wellness to our customers in ways that were only imagined before. Today’s GrandOpinion is a bit different than when we started; it has received seed funding and has a stable team to support it – Ashish Dhar (CEO), Chaitanya Dhareshwar (CIO) and Sunil Palrecha (CMO)

When & how did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?

I think this is common for Ashish, Sunil and me. We’re all entrepreneurs and recognize the value that each of us brings to the table.

Personally, I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life. I started with an IT services company, then moved to other startups – healthcare is the one I appreciated the most due to its inherent social value – I think it’s a natural expression of the way I like to work. I do everything; and I do it to perfection.

What were the early days at Grand Opinion like?

GrandOpinion started out small like most other startups. I think getting our seed round sorted in May 2015 helped us push forward and gain traction where we wanted to.

Can you please describe what a typical day at office is like?

A typical day is not in the office. Typically we work out of our home or a coffee shop – starting really early around 5:30-6 AM and working well into the night, ~10PM-ish or later. We achieve our daily targets every day and I think that puts us in a good position to advance GrandOpinion’s aspirations.

Can you tell us about the technology stack used at Grand Opinion?

There’s not much to tell, it’s a standard LAMP stack. We do have extensive security related features in the program to ensure that it adheres to the stringent HIPAA, but apart from that it’s a standard  LAMP stack on Google Cloud.

Is there any technology that you’re personally betting on to help you scale up?

There is indeed! Some of the new features especially APIs and 3rd party integration revolve around the ultra-modern MongoDB + Node.JS; we believe this will allow us to create a strong, stable and super-fast base for GrandOpinion v2.

How are you using Business Intelligence and analytics at your company?

Business Intelligence/analytics is something that makes sense when there is bulk data to work with. Given GrandOpinion works on specific cases where each case is so unique and special, it’s really not viable to use standard BI tools. So we have a custom reporting platform designed to handle this for us. At this time it’s all under development and will continue to evolve.

How else does technology help your company stand apart from its rivals?

As I see it, we don’t have rivals in the industry. There’s those that offer teleconsults and those that offer 2nd opinions; but quite clearly GrandOpinion offers the power of the US doctor to countries like India, Brazil, HongKong, Fiji – every corner of the world known and unknown! I think we’re thinking bigger than most others.

What has been the biggest technical challenge you’ve faced while running Grand Opinion?

I think the HIPAA compliance piece required a lot of fancy footwork to figure out and implement. Getting all of this developed in India was quite difficult for the simple reason that no programmers in India know or understand the HIPAA rules; thus they find it very difficult to understand why a certain mechanism is being used when seemingly simpler ways exist.

What are some of the attributes you look out for in prospective technology employees?

GrandOpinion needs experts and people with clear vision. Today I think this is the prime deciding factor for new employees. We have some way to go before we hire a full-fledged in-house team; some points still need to be outsourced and thereafter integrated in-house to ensure sustainability and speed.

How do you keep up to date with the latest happenings in the technology world?

Frankly with so many things happening it’s not always possible to be in touch with the absolute latest; but we make an attempt. We participate in various medical & tech fora, review multiple medical and tech journals, grab news feeds from Reuters, CNN, WebMD and pretty much anything that involves tech and medicine. And let me tell you that it’s quite a task to be up to speed on all these things!

What gets you excited about coming to work every day?

I believe that out of health, wealth and wisdom the number ONE thing we want is health; and thereafter we can expand our focus to others. Poor health results in poor thinking, and hefty expenses – thus poor earning/saving.

It’s exciting to me that we create a quick and easy method to access the best of health from the convenience of your home/office. You can now get a really Grand Second Opinion – a GrandOpinion. It resonates with the way I think.

What sets Grand Opinion engineering culture apart?

We develop intelligently. We don’t just code-first and think-later; we don’t just think-first and code-later. We balance the two; sometimes some things just HAVE to be coded first and sometimes some things HAVE to be planned first.

I think the lead differentiator is that we let our experienced employees use their experience; and we don’t boss them around. Achievement is honored, success is appreciated and effort is rewarded.

Which Grand Opinion value resonates best with you?

It’s the perspective on bringing health with convenience. You see the grandeur of not having to visit a doctor is really under-appreciated when you have your health. Imagine when you are unable to move around and need to talk to a specialist in the other corner of the world. Or when you need a second opinion for a loved one who cannot be transported. Does the doctor come to you? Or do you go to the doctor? No I think it’s really GRAND that you can get a Grand Opinion right where you are, that to from experienced doctors in the US.

Any piece of advice for the techies out there?

Follow your heart! Every techie I meet wants a ‘job’, and then they’re disillusioned with their lack of achievement and reward, and they want another ‘job’.

I say follow your heart; do what you love and are good at – let your work be so much fun, and add so much value to the world that success is then EASY. Or as they say in medicine: Be the miracle.

 

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