A routine class assignment can turn into an entrepreneurial opportunity, just as it did for Bhavin Prajapati, a Health Information Science graduate student at Western.
Together with some classmates, Prajapati tackled the 4×4, a Michigan public health document that stresses four healthy behaviours and the monitoring of four health measures. The group created a mobile application to put a government health policy into practice.
Called 4Mi Health, the app encourages people to practice four healthy behaviours – exercise, healthy eating, getting routine health screenings and avoiding tobacco. It also stores and tracks the progress of four health measures – blood glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure and body mass index (or BMI).
“We presented the app at the eHealth Conference in Ottawa last year and while it didn’t win the app competition, it received some high praise from the public health sector. Unfortunately, 4MiHealth didn’t take off as planned,” Prajapati said.
“The State of Michigan, who was preparing to buy the app ended up backing out because of budget cuts and revisions to the 4×4 Health Policy that we based the app on. We decided not to pursue the app any further. We haven’t given up on the app yet.”
Prajapati and his classmates nevertheless see the potential of 4Mi Health and plan to pursue new avenues to its success.
“What is unique about 4MiHealth is that it is based off an existing health policy, which isn’t how most apps start. Taking this approach may be more successful at tackling specific public health problems through digital technologies. We are also tossing the idea to open source the app to see what other others can contribute,” Prajapati added.
“We strongly encourage any student to try and build a start up, regardless where it goes. The experience you get out of building a company beats anything you get out of a book. The best advice I have is that the Internet is full of resources; you can learn anything you want to help build your company, whether it is learn how to sew, manage finances or coding,” he continued.
“One of the more challenging aspects was trying to find a balance. You need to make sacrifices and be realistic about them. There are times where you need to put your start up ahead of school and vice versa. Trying to figure out a balance between the two is crucial.”