“We’re doing this because we want to create a world where language doesn’t separate people. It gives us huge satisfaction that what we do actually improves people’s lives.”
Abhishek, who is 26 years old and lives in Sweden, co-founded Worldish with his business partner Naveen Sasidharan. Established in 2017, their service ‘Helen’ is a unique interactive healthcare software that provides translation for patients who don’t speak Swedish or English, programmed in collaboration with medical professionals.
Abhishek and Naveen are both from India and came to Sweden in 2014 as part of their Masters studies. Before that, Abhishek studied Automobile Engineering and Naveen studied Electronic Engineering. Abhishek says “I came to Sweden to do my Masters because it was one of the first to mix engineering, innovation and management.” They both saw that Sweden was a society and culture that’s open to new ideas.
A year into their studies, they were discussing ideas and realised the potential to work together. After becoming aware of the widespread language barriers, they quickly understood that the only way to fix the problem was for better translation tools.
“We felt a bit disconnected from the local community as international students - we couldn’t really connect with the local students and the local society. One major barrier was the language - although most Swedes speak very good English, it’s hard to get into the culture and connect on a more informal level if you don’t speak the language, so that’s what sparked the idea.”
After taking the idea to the innovation office at their university, they were supported in how to develop it further and advised to focus on a specific sector. Language barriers in healthcare can mean long waits, or delaying treatment until an interpreter is available. They met a range of doctors in their city of Linköping, who all experienced this problem. They decided that to really make a difference, healthcare was the place to start.
Depending on if the patient can read and write, Helen works by using an interactive tablet to see pictures of symptoms or hear audio files, allowing better communication with the medical staff. Today, Helen is used across healthcare departments, from maternity wards to dental clinics. Providing faster access to the necessary care helps ensure that everyone has equal access to medical staff and improves patient confidentiality and dignity. Helen provides help with triaging, conveying the treatment plan and instructing the patients in waiting or examination rooms. This is potentially the first digital translation tool to be commercially used in healthcare.
“Through Helen, we foresee a world where language doesn’t separate people. We envision Helen as an innovative e-health service empowering professionals and patients. A solution where language barriers don’t affect health care quality.”
After looking for support in the early stages of the business, they found out about NyföretagarCentrum from a business contact. They showed them which customers to focus on and connected them with potential contacts in the industry. A local business mentor, Eric, has been with them almost from the beginning, helping to evolve the idea and supporting with a mixture of practical and strategic areas. He showed them how to create a business model, register the company, build the brand and position the product. Although they no longer work with him, NyföretagarCentrum still continues to provide support through networking, investment, marketing and events. Therese Käck, their Head of Mentoring, has been a huge part of the journey and has been a champion for them.
While Abhishek focuses more on business development and sales, Naveen works in operations, product and data development. They have six full-time and 10 part-time staff, along with seven doctors who work on an advisory basis to ensure the product will help them and their patients, but isn’t too difficult or time-consuming. As well as employing staff from many different countries, Worldish also employs people from the local community, contributing to local economic growth.
There is large potential for market growth. In Sweden they are working on covering all the Swedish regional services within health care, as well as the migration agency, who support people through their citizenship applications and visas. They are also adding other languages since expanding to Denmark and aim to set up in the UK and Italy later this year, slowly developing in-country teams to work in sales, healthcare community management, education and product support. Within three years they want to be delivering the services in six European countries, the United States and Canada.
They have both personally developed through conquering their fears and overcoming challenges. Worldish is their first business so they have made some mistakes along the way, but have also developed in leadership styles and business knowledge. Abhishek says “we’ve always made a point to realise our mistakes and quickly adapt.”
Abhishek has three pieces of advice for other young entrepreneurs:
1) Don’t be afraid and be persistent. There are a lot of uncertainties in the beginning.
2) If you’re trying to solve a problem, work with the people that experience that problem and it’s quite likely that you’ll be able to solve it.
3) It’s important to set a very clear mission and vision. Entrepreneurship has its ups and downs, so having a mission means that when things get tough, you can remind yourself why you’re doing it.
Abhishek Jacob Chetikatt was a runner-up in the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards at YBI's Global Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2019.