Anugreh: Designing assistive technologies in New Delhi
This story was written by Claire Hiscott and edited for length and clarity.
Anugreh Sehtya grew up in New Delhi, India, the youngest in his family. From a young age, he developed a passion for combat sports, specifically Taekwondo. He shares that the sport taught him to appreciate “focus, discipline, memory, goal setting, respect” and enabled him to harness his inner confidence and strength.
His self-confidence from sports fueled his confidence to explore engineering and design. Anugreh had always wanted to help people through technology, but in was not until tragedy struck that his changemaker journey really began.
When he was 17, he fell into a state of depression after his father passed away from Cardiac arrest. Inspired by his father, this mental and emotional adversity compelled Anugreh to embrace his knack for building and the discipline confidence, and work ethic he nourished as an athlete to enact positive change in the world. He began working on design projects and attending innovation summits to pitch ideas and learn from leading innovators across India.
At one summit, a CEO that he admired was so impressed by Anugreh’s creativity and talent, he asked him to help develop solutions to enhance the quality of life for young people to autism. The CEO had a family member with autism and was in search for young minds to innovate ideas for people living with various disabilities across the country. This offer, along with family support and excitement for the opportunity, sparked Anugreh to launch his own social venture, Hybrid Ideas.
Based in Hyderabad, India, Hybrid Idea started off as “India’s first assistive technology-based design solution company,” Anugreh shares proudly, focusing on the design solutions for people with visual impairments, autism, and more. Anugreh and his partner enjoyed attending hackathons, discovering other young coders at these events who were eager to get involved in their initiative.
Through hackathon recruiting, the duo formed a team of 15 young team members. Once the team was assembled, the team began to meet weekly to ideate ways to improve the lives of people living with physical or mental disability. These actions included conducting interviews to better understand their personal needs.
After lots of ideation, research, and work, Hybrid Ideas produced three projects to support those with autism. The first was ERA APP, a smartphone application to improve the emotional recognition ability of people living with autism.
The second was a device that helps those with autism communicate better. The third is a virtual reality and artificial intelligence board that helps the autistic improve their social skills. Successful prototypes have catalyzed the team to now incubate multiple products and an innovation lab to encourage other young designers to find start their own journeys as changemakers through technology innovation.
Taking on social issues and developing his own company at a young age did not come without skepticism and challenges from adults. Anugreh remembers his being critical they reprimanded him for focusing on matters outside of the classroom. However, his confidence alongside validation from his friends and family members, who encouraged him to continue pursuing his goals, regardless of these criticisms. As tech-enabled solutions constantly involve trial and error,Patience and work ethic enables him to persevere throughout the design process.
Beyond his day-to-day work as a 19-year-old young innovator, Anugreh and his team activate the power in other young people to see themselves as changemakers. Anugreh urges other young people to identify problems in their own communities and use their unique passions and skills to experiment with solutions-oriented technologies. He believes the most important qualities to have are “street-smarts, a problem-solving attitude, and emotional intelligence” in order to meaningfully contribute to the world for the good of all.
Anugreh, through years of practice, is flourishing into a successful social entrepreneur, even as a student in university. Alongside earning a degree in Computer Science, he and his peers prioritize Hybrid Ideas to bring their academic and technical training into purpose-driven work. Ambitious and determined, his plans for the future include supporting as many businesses, NGOs, and social enterprises as possible using technology through the innovations and creative minds at Hybrid Ideas.
In an interview, Anugreh advises “students to believe in themselves, listen to others but keep doing what you personally believe is right for yourself.” Through actively listening and seeking out opportunities for personal growth, he is discovering his unique power and purpose.