At an age where most teenagers think about their exams, friends, or even crushes, meet this young Indian-American girl who has founded a technology company powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Prajali Awasthy, a 16-year-old Indian girl, has founded an AI company valued at 12 million dollars or ₹ 100 Crore. Delv.AI is a startup dedicated to refining the process of data extraction for research. Pranjali was 15 years old when she founded the company in January 2022 and has already raised $450,000 (Rs 3.7 crore) in funding. She has a team of up to 10 employees.
Interested in technology since childhood
She moved to Florida, United States in the year 2011. In an interview, Awasthy credited her father, a computer engineer by profession for her love for technology. She was just seven years old when she started learning coding from her father. "His passion and values encouraged me to get into coding," Pranjali said.
She studied mathematics and computer science for two years before starting an internship for university research labs at Florida International University at just 13 years of age. She worked on machine learning projects along with regular school work. As an intern, her tasks were research, data extraction, and generating literature reviews.
In 2020, OpenAI released its ChatGPT-3 beta. Pranjali knew it could be used to make extracting and summarizing research data easier. In 2021, Pranjali went to Miami Hack Week, where she met tech enthusiasts Lucy Guo and Dave Fontenot from Backend Capital. Guo and Fontenot also founded HFO Residency – a live-in startup accelerator in San Francisco and Miami.
Pranjali got accepted into their September 12-week cohort in exchange for a small piece of her future company. Her parents encouraged her to take the opportunity for which Pranjali had to take an absence from school. The residency paid for her to commute to the house via Uber daily.
Pranjali launched the beta for Delv.AI on Product Hunt, a platform for people to share software for free, on her 15th Birthday.
"As more content gets uploaded online, it's getting harder for people to find the right information, especially when that information is very specific. Delv.AI helps researchers leverage AI to find exactly the information they're looking for," she wrote on her blog on the website.
After presenting her project, she got her first funding from Deck and Village Global. This initial investment was enough to hire her first engineer and work on a minimum viable product.
"We've raised $450,000 in total from a combination of funds and angels including Lucy Guo and Village Global. We're currently valued at around $12 million.", Pranjali said to the Business Insider.
According to her, now College is a 'maybe someday' kind of a thing and not her priority.
Challenges and Negativity
Pranjali admits that being a Childprenuer is tough. Though people are eager to help her and ready to answer the question, Pranjali has faced patronizing behavior. She feels when she walks up to people, they sometimes look down at her, literally and figuratively – as if they're trying to figure out what she wants.
"I try not to take in everything that social media or the news throws at me. I'm not afraid to mute or unfollow people", she added.
The market is growing very fast. Pranjali's goals are clear. "The next thing for us is refining our product with user feedback and raising more funding", said Pranjali.
During this internship, she started thinking about how AI could solve problems, and the idea of Delv.AI came about.
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