We are publishing an interview of Mr. Anand Chowdhary, CEO, Oswald Foundation – This startup has created an end-to-end web accessibility solution that increases target audience and provides advanced analytics about users’ disabilities.
Please tell us about the founders:
- Anand Chowdhary (Chief Executive Officer)
Previously worked with Government of Delhi, consultant to 10+ startups. Dropped out from college to build Oswald Foundation.
- Nishant Gadihoke (Chief Technology Officer)
Previously worked with Google, Khan Academy, the Wikimedia Foundation, and numerous startups as a designer and developer.
- Mahendra Raghuwanshi (Chief Operations Officer)
Previously worked with Nokia, electronics engineer by profession, manages and expands Oswald Foundation.
Before we founded Oswald Foundation, we had worked on multiple projects together. Anand and Nishant have been working together since they were part of their school’s computer club, and, Mahendra and Anand founded Melangebox.com together, an ecommerce fashion company that has a manufacturing unit in Indore. We all came together to solve a problem passionate about, and Oswald was born. Our team is a perfect combination of technology and business.
What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Agastya is our web accessibility tool which allows web developers and businesses make their websites accessible to people with dyslexia, visual impairment, blindness, etc., by just adding one line of code. It’s really an end-to-end web accessibility solution that increases your target audience, and lets you get advanced analytics about your users’ disabilities.
Based on research by the W3C, British Dyslexia Association, and Oswald Foundation, Agastya is used on over 200,000 pages every month. It allows users to customize the font size, face, and contrast for a comfortable reading experience, and has modes like “Dyslexia-friendly Mode”, built-in translation is 100+ languages, and reads aloud your website for people who are blind or illiterate.
What is the uniqueness about your Startup?
Our average age is 21! When we started Oswald, I was 18 years old and just out of highschool, and my CTO Nishant was still in eleventh grade (Mahendra was 28, don’t worry.) Today, we’re probably the youngest successful company in the industry. In just eight months, we’re an IBM Global Entrepreneur company, an EYE Focus Accelerator alumnus, winner of Startup India Rocks, and still run by teenagers!
Why do you choose crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding will help us get to the right audience.
Why should anyone or investor back you?
To crowdfunding users, we’re giving exclusive discounts, up to 50% off, on an annual subscription of Agastya, along with shopping vouchers, t-shirts, and more goodies.
For investors, this presents and incredible opportunity to get into the hottest space in the industry: accessibility. Fortune 500 tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple have only very recently started extensively working with accessibility. At Google I/O this year, they had a session called “Pragmatic Accessibility” for teams, Microsoft introduced educational tools for students with dyslexia at their Build conference this year, and Apple made accessibility the main theme of their WWDC last year. All major companies are working towards tech inclusion, and web accessibility is perhaps the largest part of it. There are over 1 Billion people with disabilities today, and this product is the need of the hour.
Where can people back your project?
Our project can be backed on Catapooolt www.catapooolt.com/campaign/info/title/oswald-foundation?camp=OSWT768VJ0&pid=NTkz&uid=NjA4Mw==
What would you do after raising funds?
We’re going to invest in our infrastructure. We expect to serve over 200 Million pages every month this year, so we’ll invest this entire amount in building the infrastructure to support that.
What is the revenue model? Explain your thought process.
It’s freemium. Agastya is available for free for websites that have less than 10,000 monthly pageviews, and we have relevant plans for larger platforms. The entire costing is done based on the number of pageviews, so we can fairly charge all websites, big and small.
Who are the consumers that you are targeting? How is this going to affect them?
We’re currently targeting companies that have media platforms, news and information websites, etc., where we can help them increase their target audience by implementing accessibility features in their website.
What is the big picture of your startup? Will it lead to something bigger? If so, how?
“Agastya” is an end-to-end web accessibility tool. Web developers can add Agastya to their websites by adding just one line of code, and their entire website will become accessible to people with dyslexia, visual impairment, etc. It has customization features, so users can personalize their experience on the web, like change the font size and colors based on their comfort.
It also has features for the blind, like advanced deep learning image recognition and speech synthesis that not only reads out the content of a webpage, but also understands what is in pictures on the page and reads that out too, like “this is a photo of Lionel Messi playing football”, something that wasn’t possible just a few years ago. Our product is ground-breaking revolutionary and we hope that we reach a large segment of the market in 2017.
After Web 2.0 enabled websites with usability and Semantic Web (Web 3.0) promoted multiple protocols, I believe that Oswald can enable a Web 4.0 — a web centred around accessibility and equality; a web where all users are able to access all of the world’s knowledge, regardless of their disabilities.
What is the success story of your startup in your own words?
I went to design college in Ahmedabad after graduating from highschool in 2016. We launched our first product, a Chrome extension for people with dyslexia, just a week before I joined college. The product went viral, and in just two weeks, I was giving interviews to Hindustan Times, The Huffington Post, ScoopWhoop, and everyone in between. Looking at the market opportunity, I decided to drop out of college and start the company. We officially incorporated on Independence Day 2016, and ended up winning the country’s largest startup competition, Startup India Rocks, two months after that. Today, we’re revenue-positive, with an incredible team, and are India’s foremost accessibility technology company, breaking barriers with unique, innovating inventions.
Any other information about your startup that you would like to share with us.
All of us together fundamentally believe that technology should be accessible to everybody, and we think that the work that we’re doing at Oswald Foundation is going to affect millions of lives. Statistically, in India alone, we want to change the lives of potentially half a billion people: 325 million illiterates, 100 million senior citizens, and 45 million visually impaired. Our products work for all of these people and we are constantly improving our technology by investing in research.
Thanks Mr. Anand. Best of luck!