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Why we do what we do at Daffodil Health?

For oft, when on my couch, I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.

As a child, I remember reading this poem by William Wordsworth called Daffodils (I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud). He writes about how he had found his happy place in a field of Daffodils by the side of a river. Whenever he felt sad or lonely, he would travel to that place in his mind, and he would be at peace again. I started Daffodil Health to create such a place for families of children with special needs.

There are a series of events that set us on this path. As Steve Jobs famously said, I can only connect the dots looking backward. Before starting Daffodil Health, I worked for seven years in the Operations and Product teams of India's better-known health-tech startups. I built large teams and large software systems, mainly catering to the physical health side of things. In 2017, I sought therapy for myself due to some personal circumstances. This exposed me to the whole world of mental health that seemed to be severely underserved. When I quit my job in 2018, I decided to do something about it. Over the next two years, we learned about the field as much as we could. And we ran two small experiments in what we believed would usher mental health into the modern world.

One of these experiments led us to talk to several parents of children with special needs. Listening to stories of their journeys was a harrowing experience. And we heard similar problems being repeated by many parents. A pattern seemed to emerge. Not all issues were unique to them. We have solved similar problems in the physical health domain. Not all problems were unsolvable. But somehow, as a society, we had assumed that there was nothing to be done. So we decided to solve some of those problems. The quest that had started as curious exploration had led us to our mission and purpose.

Nurturing a child with special needs is a tremendous amount of work for the parent. And yet, the needs of the parent seemed to be ignored by all. It's a very steep learning curve that the parents have to adjust to when they first learn about their child's condition. But imagine having to study for your degree course using google search! A more structured approach would help. Given the complexity and the inherent subjectivity of the conditions, parents also struggle to piece together the perfect solution for their children. They exhaust themselves running from pillar to post doing this. Often parents don't know who to reach out to with their many questions. And how does one track progress and understand that the solution that they have so painstakingly put together is working or not?

This is not to take away from the superb work that professionals and organizations in this industry are doing. Many have dedicated their lives to it. But let's face it - there is an acute shortage of professionals in this field worldwide. This leads to several problems for the ecosystem. In this day and age, can we not use technology to solve some of these problems? Reducing information asymmetry, improving access and creating on-demand solutions, a software backbone to streamline processes, improving the efficiency of experts, improving operational efficiencies, the list goes on. These are the kind of problems that technology is good at solving. Therefore, I believe we can and must leverage technology.

And we are not talking about a small subset of society here. 10% of the world's population has one or the other "Special Needs." Many of them don't end up joining the mainstream workforce. A significant number of them are dependent on others their entire lives. We believe that with the right kind of support, they can live happy, independent, and meaningful lives. This journey starts in early childhood. Our vision is to increase human potential by unlocking this 10% of the world's workforce. We are a team of doers who have set out on this mission. This is what gets us out of bed every morning.

We are building Daffodil Health to be a one-stop solution that offers expert-guided care journeys for children with special needs families. Our platform saves time for the parents by eliminating ambiguity and confusion while improving service outcomes. We make sure that the parent has all the necessary knowledge and skills required for their child's upbringing. Our data-first approach and software backbone allows us to offer standardized services at affordable prices. We handhold parents through every step of the special needs journey and personalize our solutions to cater to the diverse needs of each child.

We wish to build a future where caring for a child with special needs does not have to be a full-time job for a parent. We want to live in an inclusive society where we focus on individuals' abilities rather than their disabilities. I believe we are on the cusp of this new world. And I'm grateful for the opportunity to have a front-row seat to witness it coming.

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