Wired In: Mayank Kale

Wired In: Mayank Kale

Each week, staff writer Paul Wood spotlights a high-tech difference-maker. This week, meet MAYANK KALE, 21, a senior in computer science at the University of Illinois and founder of Invoq Health. Already in use in India and Sierra Leone, Invoq Health provides rural patients instant access to quality health care providers and gathers real-world evidence from improved care delivery.

What does Invoq do for health care organizations?

I want to do something that empowers health care technologies in rural areas. We are already helping 120,000 patients through a community health workers that uses our software. That number will be 500,000 in a year. We provide customized software that helps health care providers manage their data. Community health groups use our secure forms and audio/video communication channels, and also use tools to integrate data with patient profiles and communicate with doctors for on-field diagnosis. They can build complex queries on our database for health analytics to increase efficiencies in the value chain and reduce cost-of-treatment for patients, transfer valuable data in the field without a cellular network and maintain an encrypted and reliable database to deliver queries on demand.

While helping people, you've also been able to generate revenue?

We are already revenue-positive. So far our only funding is $10,000 from iVenture in the College of Engineering. The goal is to build a venture that not only helps people but is self-sustaining. One of my personal passions is that I find building things that create value for people and with profit, you can continue to do that better. We want to be a vehicle for change.

You're very well-traveled.

I've made about 12 trips to India in the last three years. I grew up there. When I was in eighth grade, I traveled here from India, and decided this is where I wanted to go to school — Urbana has great computer and entrepreneurial resources. In June I will be going to Sierra Leone, where the UI has a sister university, Njala University. It's a country of 6 million people, and you would never guess how many doctors there are — 96. They do a lot of their health care through community organizations and these organizations are run through universities. I'm working with Professor Jenny Amos, an associate professor in the Bioengineering Department. She directs the Global Health Initiative. We're going to provide Sierra Leone with software to help them work most efficiently with the resources they have. There are challenges; for instance, many people there have never used touch screens for their data collection. The software is designed to minimal typing.

What gave you the original idea?

My father was going to donate some money to a health agency in rural India. I asked him why, and he said they needed software. I said I'd do some research and it turned out I became a naive sophomore trying to hack this together and I started building this product that turned into a company. I was in the first cohort at iVenture, and now am on the committee looking for the next batch of accelerator students and helping them figure out the program. When I graduate in December, I'll do this company full time, probably in this area. Chicago is a great place for start-ups. We already have a two folks here and four in engineers in India working on this full-time.

What's coming up?

We have just closed a major deal with a cancer research hospital in central India; we haven't deployed any software there. I was just there on winter break. They have about 400,000 patients. I want to continue to develop software that helps people. People trust us to build things for them. In 10 years, we're headed to be the largest developer for health care in India.

TECH TIDBITS ... from MAYANK KALE

Are you on social media? Twitter, Instagram, just for personal use.

Do you prefer to read digitally or book? Books. I'm reading "Things Hidden Since The Foundation of The World," a 1978 book by Stanford philosopher Ren Girard. My father recommended it.

Do you have any entrepreneurial idols? (Tesla founder) Elon Musk is one, everyone says that. And my father, Madhav Kale. He's taught me everything I know.