Meet Gunanga, The Passionate Camden Town Member, CEO and Founder Building A Preventive Healthcare Marketplace
Q&A with Camden Town Member and Entrepreneur.
We sat down to speak to one of Gravity's talented CEOs and founders, Gunanga Dias. We talked to Guni about her new innovative adventure in the healthcare/tech space, how she's planning on turning her passion into profit and her mission-led approach to building a start-up. She's coached big names on TEDx, worked in Europe and Asia and now is a Gravity Camden Town member while working on the early stages of her start-up and doing her exchange masters program at The London Business School. We spoke about the importance of community, managing your psyche, self-doubt and how Gravity has aided her growth as an entrepreneur.
Can you tell us more about Dotiv:
"Yes, so the company is called Dotiv. It's a platform that connects you with complementary and alternative medicine practitioners. For practitioners and partners, it's a consultation plus a marketing tool. For clients, it is a one-stop-shop for complementary and alternative medicine. As a client, you would be able to find your practitioner, have the consultation, and then purchase anything that your practitioner would recommend you to include in your diet or lifestyle. Be it a supplement, herbs or oils."
Sign me up! Let's start at the beginning of your journey into the wellness, healthcare and tech space. Where did your curiosity stem from?
"So I call myself a Swiss Lankan; my roots are Sri Lankan, but I grew up in Switzerland. In Switzerland, my household was predominantly Sri Lankan. I grew up seeing how ayurvedic principles were incorporated in my mum's cooking, and the remedies, my dad would ask us to drink for preventive measures, especially during winter. Ayurveda, is the equivalent of Traditional Chinese Medicine but for South Asia. So my interests in alternative and preventive treatments have been instilled since childhood. Further reinforced as I was exposed to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) when I was living in South East Asia and Hong Kong.
As being part of the South Asian diaspora living in Europe or the "west", your first challenge in getting an ayurvedic or tcm treatment is to find a trusted practitioner. You pretty much rely on word of mouth. But say, you do manage to get good advice from a practitioner, the second challenge is to make the bank transfer. Then your third challenge is to actually find the recommended supplements/remedies which sometimes be a challenge. So effectively, the entire supply chain for complementary and alternative healthcare is very fragmented. So I thought what if we made a marketplace that streamlined the whole industry from the supply, consultation, payments and collection.
I strongly believe that we are all in control of our health. I lived in Hong Kong, where people regularly take different natural preventive measures to keep healthy. Incorporating wellness into our everyday life have so many benefits, but sometimes we just don't know how. Hence I was inspired in creating a platform that would allow you to access that type of advice and care."
Do you already have a community in the wellness and healthcare sector that inspired you and opened up doors?
"When I was carving out the idea of Dotiv, I had soundboards that were very important such as friends, mentors and co-founders. I am somewhat obsessed with wellness, hence my strong link with the UK Ayurvedic college and a network in the industry of healthcare, wellness, fitness, and nutrition. All were soundboards that gave me confidence and challenged different ideas.
We are currently launching our BETA product to learn and develop before releasing the final platform. I had great conversations with other Gravity members working in the fitness and wellness space, who also acted as amazing soundboards. Having other people to bounce off like this makes you feel like, okay, you're going somewhere, which gives you confidence. For women, in particular, I think having that kind of support in business is essential."
What's your vision for Dotiv in the future, where do you see it going?
"So right now the market is London but has the potential to be worldwide. You know, practitioners to clients connecting and just creating that shift in consciousness regarding making wellbeing a priority. Your health isn't something you should start thinking about only when you get sick. I am mission-driven, and I find it empowering to drive the agenda forward to benefit people's health. Success to me is about the impact."
What have been some of your key learnings from setting up Dotiv so far?
"One big thing I learnt was managing my psyche to be honest because when you are going through this entrepreneurial journey, you can have moments of self-doubt, and think what the hell am I doing? Is this going to work? Meditation and focusing on my wellness has helped me on this journey. Especially during a pandemic, I have taken more small steps such as adding different herbs into foods to boost my immunity and keep myself healthy. Keeping yourself grounded is vital, and you need to listen to your body and prevent burnout. So funnily enough the concept of dotiv has kept me accountable in including preventive healthcare measures in my day to day."
I have seen you volunteered with TEDX on the speaker team; what did that involve?
"Yes, so TEDx was in Switzerland, and I took care of the speakers. I was a Co-organiser for TEDxLausanneWomen. I think it goes back to what I was telling you. Having space where we can celebrate and support female talents and ideas is necessary. I love TEDx because it provides a platform for entrepreneurs or people to expand their reach with impactful ideas. TEDx is just huge, right? I found it so fulfilling to be part of that network.
I had a rapport with all of the speakers, and I knew their journey, so I felt like my babies were going on stage. Some women were much older than me and experienced. I remember coaching a speaker, I particularly admired. She was very nervous, and I thought, how can it be possible? It demystified her and made her even more personable. We all have the same insecurities and fears. It brought us all closer together; it was such a beautiful experience for me."
How long have you been at Gravity Camden Town For?
"I have only been at Gravity for a couple of months now. I was coming from Hong Kong, and the whole process was daunting with Coronavirus and Brexit. There was a lot of uncertainty on a date that I could move over, and Gravity checked in on me the whole time.
Having Gravity made it all less messy and was something grounding for me as I knew staying at Gravity when I got to the UK was somewhat secured. I arrived from the airport, and Gravity sent me a video with help and guidance on how to get in as I arrived at 5:00 AM. It was effortless, for someone who is not from the UK or who doesn't have family around, the Gravity team makes the process smooth."
Why did you move to Gravity, was it the convenience?
"Yes, definitely. You have everything available to you like furniture, the kitchen is fully equipped, so it feels like you're in a Air Bnb, but you can make it your own home. It's a place I very quickly felt at home. I'm also thrilled with the pairing on my housemate; we get along very well. Gravity always allowed me to move apartments that took the stress away from living with a new person, as I had the power to move. Flexibility changes everything."