How 2 sisters melded AR with healthcare to start NexRea

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Hyderabad: We typically tend to associate augmented reality (AR) with gaming or entertainment. However, two sisters from Hyderabad—Dr. Ramya Gujjula and Priyanka Gujjula—are using AR in healthcare with their two-year-old startup NexRea, the abbreviated form of ‘Next Generation Reality’.

“We create AR content in the form of an app. For example, you have a microwave oven. When you download our app from any device (smartphone, Macbook, etc.), you can see another microwave oven right next to it by projecting the same onto a reference point. You can use the device to experience the product. The apps are customized for each company,” explained Dr. Gujjula, who is a dentist.

The idea to start NexRea struck Dr. Gujjula when she was working for Indegen Inc., after graduating from ISB in 2014. The seeds of immersive content were sown when she began her career as a project manager for a medical e-learning company. “We married technology with medical content, which made it easier for medical students to visualize the insides of the human body. After working for close to a decade, I joined the Indian School of Business (ISB) and I graduated in 2014,” she said.

After graduating from ISB, she took up a campus placement job at Bengaluru where she was creating e-learning courses for pharma and life sciences companies. But Dr. Gujjula was not satisfied. So she asked her sister to join her. Priyanka, an architect by profession, left her job in Australia to join her sister. And, NexRea was founded in June 2017. Now, the startup has a 20-member team, comprising mechanical (engineer) and medical experts.

However, venturing into AR, especially in the healthcare sector, came with its set of challenges. “Our tech is a little futuristic, so conversion rate of our sales pitches is less. We have been going for more pitches, but till this technology is vetted by the market, it will be like this and it might take another year for it to mature and become common place,” said Dr. Gujjula.

That said, the startup has seven clients, which includes GE Healthcare, Johnson and Johnson, Cyient and even Tech Mahindra Ltd, in India and the US. “We are not technology providers, but we solve problems by conducting studies and finding solutions. Our core work thing lies in content and how to design it. We then convert that into AR,” said Priyanka Gujjula.

The sisters are now exploring areas like developing education tools for patients, which can be used by doctors to educate people about the procedures they routinely perform. The sisters also want to concentrate more on the Indian market. They also see potential for their technology in the automobile space.

Given the niche space they work in, NexRea’s competition is limited in India. “We are actually operating in different spaces, so the competitors are different. Scope AR and Infinity AR are two companies (both US-based) with which we are in competition with, and then there is another Indian company named Mobiliya,” added Dr. Gujjula.

Meanwhile, though NexRea remains boot-strapped, the efforts of the two sisters have paid-off and the startup has begun generating revenue. “It is (business to business), and revenue is project-based. We haven’t looked out for funding, but we might look for investors in the later,” Dr. Gujjula said, adding the company is now also getting into a subscription-based model.

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