Circumstances Inspire Surgeon From India to Evolve into A Serial MedTech Innovator, Author and Stand-up Comedian
Dr. Jagdish Chaturvedi is an Ear Nose Throat Surgeon and an expert in the Stanford Biodesign process. He has co-invented numerous medical devices suited for the Indian healthcare system and has been recognised as one of the 35 innovators under the age of 35 by MIT Technology Review, 2016. Dr. Chaturvedi attributes his successes to his innate ability to fail and make mistakes and has authored two books on the subject of failures — “Inventing Medical Devices: A Perspective from India” which talks about failures while developing new medical devices and “The benefits of failing successfully” which shares lessons from personal failures that helped him become an entrepreneur. He is a stand-up comedian who specializes in observational, narrational and clean material.
City where you’re from: Bangalore, India
Hobbies: Stand-up comedy
Favorite quote: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win — Mahatma Gandhi
Awesome having you here Jagdish, what led you to become a medical devices innovator from being a Doctor?
Jagdish Chaturvedi: I started out to be a conventional Doctor and after finishing my undergraduate training in medicine, went on to do my masters in Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgery. During my training as an ENT surgeon, I came across a unique situation where I noticed patients with throat cancer would come to the hospital with advanced stages of cancer that were going undetected in rural regions. During my rural visits, I used to struggle using mirrors and head lamps to pick up tiny lesions in the voice box.
I felt as a Doctor, I was not doing enough by using available tools that were ineffective. I decided to buy a better visualisation device which turned out to be very expensive or not available to buy in India. I therefore made a conscious decision to make my own tool that can help me see through a video camera, lesions within the voice box. In the process I received immense support from my mentor and guru Dr. Ravi Nayar under whom I trained in ENT.
As I ventured into forming a company and developing the device, I learnt that I had a knack of making a smart yet simple solution that could be used by the masses for throat cancer screening. I was eventually able to license out the technology to a larger company who brought the device to market, now called ENTraview and has been used to screen over 200,000 patients in India for ENT conditions.
However, I needed to learn the process better and was selected into a fellowship called Stanford India Biodesign which taught me the process of inventing medical devices. This was the turning point that got me involved into developing over 18 devices in the last 7 years.
I am now the Clinical Director of a Medical Devices company in Bangalore called InnAccel Technologies Pvt. Ltd, where I implement the Biodesign process along with teams to develop new medical devices designed and engineered for the Indian healthcare ecosystem. I continue my clinical practice by running a private clinic and operating surgeries in partnering hospitals.
How did you venture into writing books?
Jagdish Chaturvedi: Again, it was due to a situation that compelled me. India has a nascent Medical Technology ecosystem and one of the primary reasons for this is the limited involvement from Doctors towards new inventions. There was also a significant lack of understanding and know-how regarding how Doctors could work together with engineers and designers to develop new medical devices.
There was no readily available resource that entrepreneurs could use to understand this space better. I therefore decided to write a book “Inventing medical devices — A perspective from India” which shares in a very Indian context, the road map for inventing a new technologies in India. It shares with challenges, pitfalls, case studies and hands-on sections, how one may invent and take an idea all the way to market successfully while maintaining realistic expectations. The book also shares factual numerical information such as investment requirements, actual development costs, salaries and licensing deals.
This book became a bestseller in the Medical technologies category on Amazon.in in a matter of months and is presently the go-to resource for inventing medical devices in India. As people read this book and were inspired to venture into becoming entrepreneurs, only few people actually chose to take the path. I realised that there was a second road-block that stopped many from pursuing this seriously and that was because of their fear of failures. This unfolded the hidden stigma and insecurities related to mistakes, failures and their perception among peers and in society while pursuing an entrepreneurial path. This prompted me to write a book called “The Benefits of Failing Successfully” which takes 10 personal failures from my life and illustrates how they have been beneficial towards paving my entrepreneurial career.
Whats the story behind being a Stand-up comedian?
Jagdish Chaturvedi: I have been acting in plays and performing theatre since my farthest memory. Perhaps since the age of 5. Having performed in over a 100 plays in the genre of comedy and satire, I possess a constant urge to vent this energy through a performance every few months. Due to my recent involvement in medical device innovations and writing books while maintaining a clinical career, I find it hard to spare time for long rehearsal schedules and commitments that go in to performing and acting in plays.
Stand-up comedy was therefore a natural alternate for me to vent this need for delivering comedy and have been pursuing this for the last couple of years. It allows me the flexibility and the freedom to write, practice and perform based on my availibility and schedule.
How do you balance your time managing these diverse roles?
Jagdish Chaturvedi: Maintaining flexibility at all times is the single most important factor that has helped me manage time. While there have been times where clinical practice overtakes my schedule, it is the flexible arrangements with teams that co-develop medical devices with me and my self-managed schedule to set time for writing books and performing comedy that helps me manage all roles effectively. Similarly, if my requirement for medical device inventions increases, due to a flexible self managed clinical practice, I am able to balance my time effectively. The bottom line being, having direct control on my time in each domain, I am able to balance them as and when requirements change.
How has this impacted your image as a Doctor?
Jagdish Chaturvedi: Though I had perceived this to negatively impact my image as a Doctor, by appearing confused and unfocused, the reality is on the contrary. Infact, my Doctor colleagues, patients, audiences have shown support and encouragement for the activities that I carry out. The clinical community benefits by the new medical technologies that improve opportunities for them to provide better care through new procedures and skill sets. The Medtech teams benefit by my clinical expertise and on the ground access to hospitals and other doctors. People who read my books and watch my stand up comedy find my diverse experiences interesting and many times entertaining. Patients often reach out to me seeking newer cure for their clinical conditions and are often very supportive of trying out new treatments through the devices that we have launched in the market.
Check out one of Jagdish’s comedy skits
Are you going to add more dimensions to your profile or is this it?
Jagdish Chaturvedi: There is no reason not to. If I do find that I need to do something else in order to improve my productivity as a Doctor, then I will certainly try to achieve it and figure out a way to balance it with whatever else that I am doing.
Why do you attribute your successes in life to your ability to make mistakes and failures?
Jagdish Chaturvedi: I personally believe that failing is not an outcome but a step towards achieving the ultimate outcome which is Success. So the sooner I have failed or made mistakes, the sooner I have corrected them to become better and more effective. Making mistakes on numerous occasions has helped me deal with complex situations which I could have avoided if I was more careful. But dealing with difficult situations has made me stronger and given the confidence to face more challenging situations. So the single reason that drives me to do something is because I have failed in achieving it already.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
Jagdish Chaturvedi: Team comes first. Then the need. Then the idea. The need and idea in itself cannot do anything. The team can identify the need and solve it with an apt solution.
Single best advice to Stand up comedians
Jagdish Chaturvedi: Do not write a joke to please an audience. It will force you to be someone whom you are not. Instead, find an audience who likes the jokes that you can write naturally and build that community. Being yourself is more sustainable in the long run.
Single best advice to Authors
Jagdish Chaturvedi: Anybody can write and Everybody can read. The best time to put your thoughts into a book is NOW, because the first mover is always at an advantage.
Teach us something we don’t know
Jagdish Chaturvedi: Hiding your mistakes and pitfalls makes you look artificial and less likable. Showing your mistakes and pitfalls makes you human and more likable.
What daily habits do you have that allow you to perform at your peak?
Jagdish Chaturvedi: When I want to do something that can be done in a few minutes, I do it right away. When I want to do something bigger, I try to achieve it in two weeks. Never more.
Where do you see yourself in a couple years?
Jagdish Chaturvedi: On the cover page of Fortune Magazine.
Originally published at Future Sharks.