Imagine a Facebook app that instantly predicts the likelihood of skin cancer. Waya.ai, a technology startup based in Champaign, has developed this open source app and is working on its next product—a smartphone app that can detect if a person has suffered a concussion. Ravijot Narang, a student in the iSchool's MS in information management (MS/IM) program, is working on product strategy, product validation, market analysis, and customer development for the new company, which is dedicated to improving healthcare through the use of artificial intelligence and big data.
Narang, who earned a BS in electrical engineering from Shri G.S. Institute of Technology and Science in India, came to Illinois because of the flexibility of the iSchool's MS/IM degree program. He met Waya.ai founder Michael Dietz, an Illinois graduate in electrical engineering, at an event and was struck by their mutual interest in helping people through technology. He joined the Waya.ai team in the spring semester.
"We open-sourced the skin cancer detection app, as we really wanted people to be able to get a better diagnosis without any cost or hassle. Skin cancer is a major issue worldwide; now with the advancement and confluence of image recognition, machine learning, and mobile technology, people can detect skin cancer early from the comfort of their homes. We have open-sourced the code and technology, so that people can add their expertise and build upon the base we have built—the best solution ever," said Narang.
Earlier this month, Narang was invited to attend the Forbes Under 30 Summit, a gathering of 7,000 young leaders and entrepreneurs held in Boston.
"I thought the Forbes platform would be a good way to get in touch with like-minded people for the new skin cancer detection app, so I reached out to people at Forbes and told them about my project, interests, and past accomplishments, and they invited me to be a part of the summit."
According to Narang, the best part of the summit was the relationships he made.
"Everyone was so welcoming and open. You get to make friends who are curing cancer using carrots, running a $200-million private equity firm, creating water filters that cost $1, and so on. I think getting to meet people and form a tribe that sees the world as you do was the best part of my experience."
After earning his master's degree, Narang looks forward to using his information management skills to enter the venture capital industry or get involved in enterprise account expansion.