IIT Dropout Series: UP boy drops out of India’s oldest engineering college to build digital health record system

Aman Bhandula from Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad was interested in different art forms since childhood but he shifted gears towards engineering to fulfil his eldest sister’s IIT aspiration.

“My sister wanted to join an IIT but she could not do it because of financial challenges. Creating things gave me joy and hence, I decided to prepare for the engineering exam to join mechanical engineering at one of the older IITs,” said Aman, who completed class 12 from GK Welhams College, Moradabad.

With a rank of 6930 in JEE Advanced, Aman could either get his desired stream in a newer IIT or pursue engineering in a different field in a first-generation IIT. He chose campus environment over the course and enrolled in Integrated Master’s degree in Geological Engineering at IIT Roorkee – India’s oldest engineering college.

“The campus life allowed me to go back to my interests in art forms such as music and painting. I also formed a band with a few of my batchmates. Alongside, I started learning about machine learning technology and played a lot of sports,” Aman added.

One day, while Aman was playing squash on campus, he injured his shoulder and had to rush to an orthopaedic surgeon. Despite the initial treatment, he could not get relief.

“The doctor then asked about the medical history and I recalled about an old injury on the same shoulder. That’s when different medicines were incorporated into my treatment and the injury healed very quickly. The experience stayed with me and I started thinking about the importance of medical histories,” said the UP boy.

After initial discussions with his roommates and doctors, the idea went into a cold box as everyone went ahead with summer internships in 2019. For Aman, his internship in Bangalore is one of the most important events in his startup journey as he got the chance to stay with Shashank Kumar, the founder of Razorpay and an alumnus of IIT Roorkee.

“In Kormangala, everybody was doing startups from their rooms. We also developed an app that digitally stored people’s medical histories straight through the doctor’s clinics and labs. I had already missed my fourth-semester classes and exams while trying to prepare a ready-to-use scalable model,” he added.

The team’s initial plan was to hand it over to the government. But when the pandemic hit in 2020, everything was shut and they decided to apply to Y Combinator — an American technology startup accelerator. “We got selected and received a seed fund of $150,000. I realized that I will be working on my startup for the next five years and had no reason to not pursue it full-time,” Aman said.

The other two co-founders — Kaishu Sahu and Nikhil Kumar – had also joined IIT Roorkee in 2016. “They were pursuing four-year BTech course in Biological Technology and hence, there did not have to drop out but they did not sit for campus placements and decided to work solely on our startup, Farmako – a centralized health record system for India,” the IIT Roorkee dropout told indianexpress.com.

The outbreak of coronavirus had the startup operations halted because of the mayhem in the country’s healthcare system. “Covid affected the startup badly. Half of the team was infected and my mother was also admitted to the hospital for over two months. But now, people have started taking health seriously and touchless services have become normal, which will benefit our startup idea,” said Aman, founder & CEO of Farmako.

Over 60,000 people have a structured medical history on Farmako. More than 1000 doctors and labs are registered on the platform in Delhi NCR, Roorkee and Moradabad!

Aman advises people who are stuck with the decision of dropping out to not leave college out of excitement. “I loved my college and would have gone back to the campus. The online classes in COVID weren’t adding any value so I decided to drop out and focus completely on my startup. If you think you’ve something outside college that you love and you can add in, don’t wait to finish your college degree,” he added.




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