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Shivi Kapil: User Centric Design for Healthcare 



Name: Shivi Kapil  

Business: Empathy Design Labs  

Location: Bangalore, India 

Industry: Healthcare, Wellness & Fitness

Reason for starting? I have an Electronics Engineering degree and a Master’s degree in User Experience Design from the National Institute of Design here in India. My skills and interests include leading user research and interaction design for healthcare and medical technologies. I have 6+ years of work experience in medical technologies and healthcare research. I have worked with Philips Research, M4ID-Finland, WHO, and UNICEF. I have been an IDDS-MIT D Lab fellow. I always wanted to design solutions for Maternal and Elderly people. I got this opportunity when I got selected as a BIRAC SIIP Fellow last year which was designed for Maternal and childcare. I developed my idea further and started my entrepreneurial journey. Now, I am the founder and director of my healthcare start-up – Empathy Design Labs Pvt. Ltd. I am working on innovative solutions for pregnant moms, which can avoid the risk of stillbirth in India and other developing countries. 

Related: Read about another Healthcare entrepreneur here. 

How do you define success? Let your actions define you and not your words. I am a believer of practicing empathy and hence am driven by a user centric mindset. Success to me is my happiness after a productive day. Success is when you don’t give up. Success is when you go out, enjoy an ice cream and laugh about your failures. Success is when you find happiness everyday because of your work. 

Biggest success: I believe that life gives you one chance everyday – just take it. Take that risk and give it your best. I took mine. I feel successful when I see my growth in past years. My biggest success is that I feel happy because I do what I love. I feel happy more than successful when I see somebody coming to me saying, “I love your work, I want to do what you are doing.” I dream of a world without any maternal and neonatal death. Birth is a beautiful event of nature and I want it to be safe and successful for every pregnant mother and every baby waiting to come to this world. 

I want to earn money by making meaningful solutions in healthcare. I want my solutions to be User-centric so that they don’t mind paying for them. 98% of 2.6 million stillbirths occur in LMICs. We are driven by the design thinking process to solve bigger issues. After completing early clinical studies and we will introduce the product into the Indian market in late 2018. We plan to use funds to develop proof of market demand and adoption in 10 Indian states. We will have reached 15,000-20,000 mothers within the two year grant funding. Within 10 years, we hope to be the standard of care for Antenatal foetal monitoring having protected 20 million pregnant mothers and babies from stillbirths cumulatively and 7 million per year thereafter worldwide. 

Related: In the Business of Women’s Health

What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Learn things by doing. You need to try things before you make assumptions. You need to work every single day for your idea/product/service whatever it is. Being entrepreneur is not a cake walk but it not as bad as people think. You need to give it a try every single time.  

Who is your most important role model? My role model is that nurse in a rural hospital who leaves her family early in the morning and treats patients with a smile on her face for an 8-12 hour shift. She never complains. She is my role model because I learn from her everyday. Nurses save people. I wanted to work in healthcare because I believe in innovations and simple solutions which can make their life, nurses’ lives, easier. I want to make healthcare solutions easy, effective and user centric so that technology can become meaningful and not another burden on them.

WE CAN TOP 26 BY DHRIITI , Cherrie Blair Foundation, US Embassy


Shivi Kapil, Founder of Empathy Design Labs

Shivi was born and brought up in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh along with her two other sisters and a brother. Her parents, a Retd. Deputy SP and a Retd. Principal of a govt college, celebrated girl children. They focussed on investing equally in the upbringing of all the four children without bias and impetus was laid in excelling in life for each one.

This upbringing since childhood, shaped Shivi to become a go-getter. After completing her Engineering degree, she went on to pursue her Masters degree in User Experience Design from NID India. It is during this phase in life, Shivi started ideating about simple solutions to daily life problems. Design education turned Shivi’s focus to problem solving and developing intuitive solutions for daily life problems.

During her education in NID she designed solutions like – Mobile app for working mother for better time management, Health checkup services designed for house wives in towns and cities, Universal design for mobile phone so that even blind people can use phone, UI design for many websites and products. She turned towards healthcare when she got selected for USID Gurukul Program at IIT Kanpur in 2010 during her post graduation.



Shivi, with the FICCI Award

Last year in October 2015 She got selected as Social Immersion Innovation Fellow by Department of Bio technology from India. This fellowship was deigned to solve maternal and child care problem. Shivi travelled across India during her field research in tribal areas. it is during these travels she observed that stillbirths are prevalent across India either rural or urban. Stillbirths means when foetus/ baby dies inside mother’s uterus before delivery. As per WHO report, 2.6 Million stillbirths are occurring across world due to subjective delay in reporting the reasons for abnormal pregnancy parameters. Which means 7000+ stillbirths every day. 98% of these stillbirths take place in developing countries like India. It is here she observed a huge need for a solution to monitor pregnancy, especially ANC records, which would help in reducing still births.To address this need Shivi has designed a solution which will provide alerts on time for referral in case of abnormality of foetal health during pregnancy.

Empathy Design Labs Pvt Ltd is developing a device which will monitor pregnancy to avoid the risk of stillbirth (foetus death before delivery) in developing countries like India. It is also expected to encourage mothers for better ANC and early screening of pregnancy. She has combined her electronics engineering and product design skills and has come up with a product idea which has multiple sensors to monitor pregnancy.

WE Can India has been a game changer for Shivi. To quote her, “#WECanIndia has been Incredible ! I could have missed the opportunity but thanks to the program coordinator, it got worked out and I attended it in Lucknow. All participants were so inspiring and I was amazed to see their energy. WE Can India is great platform to encourage women in untapped areas. It made me more focussed and strategic. It has widened my network of people of various expertise and skills. It has been just awesome.My mentor- Mr. Vijay Ladha has been so supportive that I now have sense to develop the business further. Special mention to Arindam and Debaleena who have been so patient and inspiring that we all could achieve what we have achieved today. I am looking forward to further learnings and support.”

You can know more about Shivi and her innovation by visiting her website

You can also connect with her in LinkedIn 


Empathy Design Labs was chosen among TOP 26 winners from India by WE Can Business Plan competition by Dhriiti , US embassy and Cherie Blair Foundation. 

We sincerely thank Dhriiti , US Embassy and Cheri Blair foundation for this opportunity. Special mention to our mentor Mr. Vijay Ladha and our workshop facilitator Arindam and Debaleena Dey. 

We are looking forward to your support in this journey. We congratulate other 25 amazing ideas as well. we feel inspired and positive working with each other.  

Read more about it -




Winner - HT IDEATOR and EUREKA Champ Award , 2017


EMPATHY DESIGN LABS 's Founder SHIVI KAPIL won prestigious HT award for IDEATOR AND EUREKA CHAMP category. Our founder SHIVI KAPIL's work for stillbirth got noticed and received the honour. SHIVI's mother received the award on her behalf as she was not available in the country. It was moment of joy as she received the award on "Mother's day". Siddharth Nath Singh is an Indian politician and the Health Minister in the Government of Uttar Pradesh was present to give the awards. 

HT Awards 2017 - Healthcare minister Mr. Siddharth Nath Singh SHIVI 's mother received the award on her behalf. 

HT Awards 2017 - Healthcare minister Mr. Siddharth Nath Singh SHIVI 's mother received the award on her behalf. 

FICCI FLO Award Winner 2017- Outstanding Woman for Healthcare and Medicine

Something amazing happened yesterday! 

Our Founder SHIVI KAPIL won the Ficci Flo Award - Outstanding woman in Healthcare and medicine. She was nominated for Ficci Flo Award of Uttar Pradesh for her work in Healthcare over years along with 78 other powerful women who are changing the lives of people and healthcare scenario of our country. Surprisingly SHIVI was only non-doctor nominee among all.

Mr. Ram Naik ,Governor of Uttar Pradesh was the chief guest of the event at HOTEL VIVANTA BY TAJ . Dr. Rita Bahuguna joshi - Minister of Women Welfare, Family Welfare, Maternity and Child Welfare and Tourism and Mr. Ashutosh Tandon, Minister of Technological and Medical Education were also present at the event. 

Over a pleasant surprise , Our founder SHIVI KAPIL was announced as a winner in this this category and received the honour from Honourable Governor. 

Ficci Flo UP women awards on April 29th 2017 - Founder SHIVI KAPIL as winner with other winners in various categories. 

Ficci Flo UP women awards on April 29th 2017 - Founder SHIVI KAPIL as winner with other winners in various categories. 

WE Can - Cherie Blair Foundation , US embassy & Dhriiti.

Business Plan competition and WE Can workshop

Founder - SHIVI KAPIL attended a WE can workshop in Lucknow , Uttar Pradesh , India and participated a week long business Plan workshops. Workshop Facilitators - Arindam and Debaleena Dey shared their expertise on start-ups and importance of good business plan. 

The workshop covered all aspects of business plan and profit making , investment types, business strategies etc. One of the IIM Lucknow Professor took a session on Branding and importance of it as well.


we can

The outcome of the workshop was to develop a business plan for your own business and improve it further over 3 weeks with the help of assigned mentor post workshop. Our company mentor was Mr. Vijay Ladha. Mr. Vijay Ladha who is business expert of years of experience. He has been mentoring start up of types over years. He helped developing the plan further and also share some strategies on sales and marketing. 

We have submitted the business plan now for business plan competition and waiting for the final result for the final Top 26 entrepreneurs for accelerator program.   

It was great journey for us to understand the core of business. This also helped us in creating a great network too. We met the entreprenuers in Crafts , Textiles, Media , Beauty products , Image Consultancy, education, Food , Event planning, Space design etc.  

May the best idea win ! 






Prof Ashok Rao's - Discussion meeting with "Pregnancy Partner" Team

Prof Ashok Rao who is DSP expert visited the team Pregnancy Partner yesterday. He shared his knowledge on signal processing and also helped them team on algorithm development. Interns Lavin and Bhaskar has shared their doubts about Signal analysis. Project Lead - Shivi Kapil Invited him for this discussion and has planned few more in upcoming months. 

Dr.Rao holds a BE, ME & Ph.D all in EE from Mysore University (1982), Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (1985) and Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (1991) respectively. He specializes in Digital Signal Processing area and is known to be one of the leading figures in this area in India. In addition he teaches and researches in areas of Image Processing, Multimedia, Linear Algebra, Renewable Energy, Bio-Metrics, Appropriate Technology & Sustainable Development, Management, Archeology, Education & Academic Reforms and ICT. He has over 30 years of Teaching & Research Experience which Includes:

  • 6 years in IIT Bombay,
  • 7 years in IISc Bangalore,
  • 4 years in NITK Surathkal, the rest in various places in India.
  • He has successfully guided Ph.D’s both in E & C and Computer Science areas and has over 100 publications.
  • He is also a Solar Photo Voltaic (SPV) specialist having been trained by Siemens Solar California during 1996-1997. Earlier he was Head, Network Project at CEDT, IISc Bangalore from 1999-2005. It was a project funded by SDC (Swiss Agency for Development & Co-operation) and covered E & C Engineering education in whole of South India (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerela). This is among the very few successful higher education projects in India. The learning’s and experiences from this project has been scaled up as TEQIP across India to cover broader Engineering Education.


  • He is a Gold Medalist from IISc, Bangalore during 1983-85.
  • He has been awarded Texas Instruments (TI) International DSP Design & Education Award for promoting Excellence in Under Graduate DSP education during 1996-98.
  • He has received Citation from Philips Company for regularly crafting excellent UG students in E & C, in area of Signal processing & Digital Communication during 96-98.
  • He is among the very few across the world to be invited to make a presentation in    PAN-IIT-2006 global meet.

He is also a Entrepreneur having successfully started and managed several IT & Renewable Energy companies during 1998 to 2011. From 1999, he has been a Consultant on Design of DSP & Multimedia systems to Philips, NXP (Star TV), Tektronix, Honeywell, Toshiba, SONY, Infineon, Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, LG, etc. From 2007, He has been a Guest / Visiting Professor at IIM Bangalore , teaching PGPP and PGSEM programs and executive MBA programs there. He teaches Entrepreneurship and Public Policy courses there. He is one of the very few to have taught courses & done research in multidisciplinary areas and Institutions like IIT, IISc, NIT and IIM in India. Currently he is also a Advisor for Research, Govt. of Kerala (Dept of Technical Education) from 2013.

Team at Work

Ananth and Arun V. are our technology mentors from Villgro Innovations for BIRAC SIIP Fellow program. Team Pregnancy Partner had a review meeting for the progress updates and to discuss technical issues. Ananth and Arun V. have extensive experience in technology sector and they are encouraging and mentoring start-ups since many years. 

Our interns - Darwin (previous intern) and Bhaskar presented the Hardware and software analysis they have been working. Team had also presented their plan for the upcoming months. Darwin and Bhaskar are students - Embedded engineering. They have shown brilliant capabilities during their internship with us.

Our "Immersion" Journey - BIRAC SIIP Fellowship

Susheela was eight months pregnant when she came with her husband to see a doctor with complaints of abdominal pain. The 19-year-old waited in the crowd till her husband got the prescription, and then they went to a lab for an anaemia checkup and were told to wait till they got the report.

The next day, when I visited the Primary Healthcare Centre, I asked about her and got to know that she had delivered the baby the previous night. I was shocked that she was not aware that she would be delivering her baby the same day.

I went to her room and found the happy father distributing "laddus" for their baby boy. Susheela and the baby were all wrapped in a blanket in the cold weather. I saw a knife placed near the baby (to ward off evils). Susheela was not able to talk. I somehow managed to get her file and checked her on her Ante-natal Checkup (ANC) visits. There was only one.

“Did you go for any check-up before or during your pregnancy?” I asked her.


“Yes! I went when I was in my sasural (husband’s home) and but now I am at my mother’s place.

In the villages, where women usually go to their maternal home (maaika) during their pregnancy until the child is born or is a year old, what happens to the ANC checkup? What about the baby’s immunization? When we posed this question to the ASHA workers, we learnt that the daughters of a village are not documented in the ANC and daughters-in-law are not documented because they would go back to their maternal homes and get missed out from both the villages.

We visited a few villages in Rajasthan for the BIRAC Social Innovation Immersion programme for Maternal and Child Healthcare. We spent time meeting, interviewing and shadowing caregivers in the villages – ASHA, ANM, nurses, lab technicians and doctors.
We also met families – mothers, newborns, husbands, in-laws and dais (traditionally trained birth attendants).


Shivi is in conversation with ASHA in Rajasthan. (BIRAC SIIP)

Shivi is in conversation with ASHA in Rajasthan. (BIRAC SIIP)

The picture I got was that village women are very involved with household work, agriculture, forest protection, cattle care and dairying. The male members of the family usually migrate to towns to earn a living for their families. Even where the men continue to reside in the villages, it is the women and girls who look after the agriculture and cattle along with men. Typically the leftover food is meagre, considering the families are poor and have little to begin with. This creates a major problem with malnutrition, especially for pregnant or nursing women. Few women seek medical care while pregnant because it is thought of as a temporary condition. This is one of the reasons that they ignore themselves while they are pregnant. Starting from birth, girls do not receive as much care and commitment from their parents and society as a boy would. For example, a newborn baby girl would only be breastfed for a short period of time, barely supplying her with the nutrients she needs. This is so that the mother can get pregnant as soon as possible, in hopes of a son the next time.


Invisible before pregnancy and after delivery: Due to customs and practices followed by medical providers, a pregnant lady is invisible in records and sometime documented only once (which is of no use). We still need to see if this is across India or just in the villages we have visited.

Pregnancy is a temporary phase: A mother in rural villages is also invisible because pregnancy is not considered as a serious condition to be taken care of. There is a perception that it is going to be over after 7-8 months. A pregnant woman works in fields for all those months even during the final days of her pregnancy. Once she delivers the baby, the entire focus shifts to the baby. They are neither prepared for the special phase nor educated about post-delivery care.

Gender disparities: Women are the last people to eat food in the family. They eat whatever was leftover after feeding the male members of the family. Girls were breast-fed less frequently and for shorter durations during infancy, while males were fed first and better.

No nutritional knowledge:  The women have a low level of nutritional education, which explains the poor intake of vitamin rich food, especially green vegetables. There is also a lack of knowledge about the dietary pattern best suited to different age groups. They do not know how much food they need to consume during pregnancy and about the lactation period. Lack of knowledge is a cause of high maternal mortality and they suffer from various health problems such as anaemia, weakness and vomiting.

Infectious diseases: Improper disposal of waste and working barefoot leads to high instances of hookworm infection in rural areas. Hookworm infection is directly responsible for a high percentage of anaemia among women.

No information about Human Rights (Women’s Rights): The government has initiated various programmes related to anti-dowry and maternal benefits, but women lack awareness about these laws and rules. The women working in the field had no men to support them in household activities, and many women were also on the receiving end of abuse and violence by men in their family

A typical day for a woman in the agricultural labour force starts at 8 am and ends at 5 pm, with only an hour’s break in the middle. Most women are overworked, with no maternity leave or special breaks. They have insufficient knowledge about a balanced diet and most of them were unhealthy due to gender discrimination. As India is a male-dominated society, male members of the family take all decisions. Women, as ‘invisible workers’ contribute a lot to household activities as well as other outer activities and stay invisible even during pregnancy.

BIRAC SIIP intends to create a pool of early-stage social innovators committed to tackling the most severe, widespread problems in Maternal and Child health. It will provide budding entrepreneurs resources and support to immerse in a problem, identify a need and then develop a solution.