Venture Center

Jeevtronics and the World’s First Hand-Cranked Defibrillator

Ashish Gawade and Aniruddha Atre have known each other since they first met in fifth standard in school. Their lives have been intertwined ever since. They have remained friends, their paths diverged occasionally only to converge again. The mechanical engineering graduates worked in the US, did an engineering Master’s and an MBA. Gawade and Atre are co-founders of Jeevtronics, which makes the world’s first hand-cranked defibrillators. 

The inspiration for this came during a lecture by C.K. Prahlad while Gawade and Atre were pursuing their MBAs in the US. Prahlad’s discourse on the untapped potential at the bottom of the pyramid encouraged them to focus their skills on creating solutions for significant, underserved problems. With an interest in solving tough problems through technology, they had developed the skillset to build products and solutions that would really make a difference in the lives of common people. They had developed this unique expertise in human-powered generators. Their hand-cranked defibrillator was one such product in this journey. 

At Jeevtronics, they developed a hand-cranked defibrillator from a proof-of-concept stage. A defibrillator is a device that can give a high-voltage electric shock to help save a person’s life when he or she has a sudden cardiac arrest. These hand-cranked defibrillators will come in handy in remote areas where electricity supply is a major issue. The novelty of this device is that it can be hand-cranked within 10 seconds to generate the voltage required to deliver a shock to a patient’s heart. 

There were many dimensions to this problem. India’s death rate due to sudden cardiac arrests is much higher than that of developed countries. The reasons for this were that not all hospitals had defibrillators, and their numbers were even less in rural areas where the problem was further compounded by erratic electricity supply. Further, not all ambulances were equipped with a defibrillator. “This seemed like an important problem to solve. This will help rural India where electricity supply is poor. We did a lot of market research, who will buy and at what price point will they buy,” says Gawade. This way, they were sure they could develop a customer-centric product.

The company rolled out the product in 2019, five years after it started working on it. One of the reasons it took so long to develop the product was funding. With limited funding, development was challenging, but their association with Venture Center provided them with essential grants to move from a proof-of-concept to a full-fledged product launched in 2019.

A defibrillator needs to generate 2,000 V to deliver the shock. But, it is difficult to generate such a high voltage  in the absence of grid power or a battery. Jeevtronics’ defibrillator eliminates the reliance on a stable power supply or batteries. The device can be charged by simply turning a crank, taking between five to ten seconds to power. This innovation not only ensures that the device can be used virtually anywhere but also incorporates a triple-powered system that includes a battery, catering to markets with intermittent electricity availability.

Today, Jeevtronics’ defibrillators are predominantly sold in tier 2 to tier 4 towns, demonstrating the company's significant impact on improving emergency medical responses in regions with inconsistent power supplies. This innovation perfectly exemplifies the potential for high-tech solutions to meet grassroots challenges.