in Business, Experiment, Health, Medicine, Mindfulness, Podcast, Problem Solving, Product

S2 E1 – Srikanth Sola

Out to destroy pollution with advanced pulsed radio wave technology, serving people and seeing beyond first principles.

Dr. Srikanth Sola is the founder and CEO of Devic Earth, a Bangalore-based green tech company out to destroy pollution on this planet. You can find more about his venture at

Srikanth was a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic before moving to India and joining the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Bangalore. As a practicing cardiologist, he was stunned by the high morbidity and mortality due to air pollution, he began evaluating and developing technologies to improve air quality. After many successes and failures (which we will get into in our conversation today ;), he developed a pulsed radio wave technology that was inspired by the cardiac ultrasound he performed on a daily basis. This technology was highly successful and it compelled him to leave the full time practice of medicine to make it available to society on a wider basis. Srikanth  has been named “Who’s Who in America”, “Who’s Who in Science and Engineering”, and “One of America’s Best Cardiologists” by the Consumers Research Council. He has authored 50 research publications in peer reviewed journals and numerous book chapters, and serves on the editorial board of several international research journals in cardiology. 

” Higher self, inner self is much better than the first principles thinking. Problem with first principles thinking, you are limiting yourself to the mind and mind is a monkey” –Srikanth Sola

Show Notes & Links

Transcript Follows

Srikanth 0:00
There was one key experience that still shapes me today. And it was when I was cycling across the California to Nevada border coming down the Sierra Nevada Mountains, that it really just hit me.

You know what I want to do in life is to serve other people. I want to make the world a better place.

Madhav SBSS 0:21
Hello boys and girls. Welcome to this episode of seeking Sathya podcast. My guest today is Dr. Shi consola. He is the founder and CEO of David Cote, a Bangalore based green tech company out to destroy pollution on this planet. You can find more about his venture at debbik hyphen Srikanth was a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic before moving to India, and joining the three satisfy Institute of biomedical sciences Bangalore. As a practicing cardiologist, he was stunned by the high morbidity and mortality due to air pollution. He began evaluating and developing technologies to improve air quality. After many successes and failures, which we’ll get into in our conversation today, he developed a pulsed radio wave technology that was inspired by the cardiac ultrasound that he performed on a daily basis. This technology was highly successful, and it compelled him to leave the full track full time practice of medicine, to make it available to society on a wider basis. srikant has been named who is who in America, who is who in science and engineering and one of America’s best cardiologists, by the consumers Research Council. He has authored 50 research publications in peer reviewed journals and numerous book chapters and serves on the editorial board of several international research journals in cardiology. Srikanth welcome to the show.

Srikanth 1:42
Thanks, Madhav. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Madhav SBSS 1:45
Very excited to begin, I have a lot of things I wanted to talk to you about. Really. You cycled 3000 miles across the United States, in your teen years? Why? Like, what is the motivation for that?

Srikanth 1:59
Yes, that was a wonderful trip. You know, I had my first year of college at Stanford when I was an undergraduate in those days, and I’m sure it’s still the same. Now this was in 1989 1990. We were supposed to do something, you know, we were supposed to do something useful with our summer holidays. And the only things that really were available to me was back home in Eastern Kentucky where I grew up where my family lived at that time, was work with some of the petrochemical industries that did oil and gas processing in that area. That was not so interesting to me. I was a biology major at the time. And this didn’t really fit. So I was looking at what would make a difference. And this is sort of recurring theme in my life. And one of my seniors had actually done this trip called bike aid the year before, and she told me about it that she loves cycling, I love cycling. And so it just was a natural fit. And you know, you’re cycling about 80-90 kilometers, about 80-90 miles per day. And across beautiful countryside going from San Francisco to DC. You just learn a lot. You know, you have a lot of time to yourself. You’re on the saddle, you’re meeting wonderful people. You’re seeing beautiful scenery, you have friends, make good friendships with the people you’re riding with. It’s a wonderful time. Yeah, I mean, it sounds so fun, actually just saw that I had a great pair of legs at the end.

Madhav SBSS 3:26
You mentioned there was a lot of lessons, any particular lessons that come to your mind in that journey.

Srikanth 3:31
There is one key experience that still shapes me today. And it was when I was cycling across the California to Nevada border coming down the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And we had really worked hard in the Sierra Nevada, as you know, the mountains of California are very beautiful. And we got to see lovely waterfalls and snows and all sorts of wildlife. And then you cross over into the more dry arid parts of Nevada. And on the cycle. We’re going literally straight downhill, sometimes for miles and miles altogether. And it was one of these long downhill descents that it really just hit me. You know, what I want to do in life is to serve other people. I want to make the world a better place. It’s not that I’m going to save the world. It’s not like that. Not some kind of Messiah complex. But I understood that, you know, gosh, what brings me happiness? is making other people happy. Not not a no. In the sense of trying to please others. It’s not like that. But more the sense that man, you know, when you feed a hungry person when you make a sick person Well again, when you make a child laugh, wow, that’s something that’s so precious. And that’s what I learned from that trip. That’s what I took away from that trip and it still stays with me even today.

Madhav SBSS 4:46
When you were like 18 at the time.

Srikanth 4:49
Yeah, I was just 18 was a kid.

Madhav SBSS 4:55
Like, at 18 you were What? What kind of background you had before that I’m surprised that you had a thought of serving others.

And, yeah, but what sort of ways I know.

Srikanth 5:12
You know, my family and I, we moved from India to the United States when I was age five, this was in the mid 1970s. In fact, the very first movie we saw in the United States was Star Wars, the, you know, the first one that came out. And we were at a time where the American Indian culture was not so established in the US like it is today. And so my parents, my father was a doctor, he was working his way through the medical profession getting himself established. They were trying to figure out how to blend the Indian culture that they grew up with, with the American culture that we were introduced to, and they did a good job. I mean, they really did a good job. And it’s really thanks to my parents, I think that a lot of these values came to me. Along with that, I would say my teachers, you know, growing up in rural Kentucky, a place where there is a lot of poverty, even today, many decades later,

I saw the value of education, I saw the value of healthcare, I saw the value of, of bringing resources to people where they may not have had it, I saw it firsthand because I saw poverty every day growing up in those lovely mountains. But I also saw the beauty of nature.

And those things stay with you, you know, when you see it at a young age, they stay with us. When I yeah, when I went to Stanford, I had all these amazing resources my classmates were, some of them were Olympic champions. My junior was Tiger Woods. You know, we used to joke with him about golf. And you know, one time one of my friends that, you know, how did you get a ticket to the Masters? You know, for spring break? We were all talking about what we were going to do during spring break that dude, how did you get a ticket to the Masters in his reply was, dude, I’m playing in the masters.

So we grew up with superstars like that, and it rubs off. And, and I had already done very well academically. But this really set the stage for growth trajectory, that it’s been there. I think my whole life, we’re always trying to exceed always trying to be better every day. And those lessons of have stayed with me throughout. Yeah, yeah. Having accessible, I guess, role models of some sort, or peer group. I think, exactly. great teachers and great peers that made the difference youth transforms you with, right. And when you’re around such people, it makes all the difference

Madhav SBSS 7:43
Srikanth we won’t probably have a lot of time to dig into your professional career as a doctor. But maybe for part two, I wanted to ask you about a quote you shared. You can fact check me on this because not everything on the internet is true. You’re quoted as saying the major cause of all illness is a diseased mind. What did you mean by that?

Srikanth 8:07
Yes, exactly. Exactly. You know, when I would go into the intensive care unit CCU, and with my junior residents, the or the cardiology fellows who I was training, the classic cases, you have a young guy, let’s say in his 30s, or early 40s, smoker who comes in with a heart attack, no other risk factors for heart disease, no diabetes, no high blood pressure, no family history, none of those things, his weight is fine. And the reason for the heart attack, the most common risk factor in these settings is smoking tobacco use. And I would tell them, I would tell my residents, I said, you’re going to counsel him about tobacco cessation, right? And they say Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. We’ve asked a counselor to come. We’ve also spoken to him to stop smoking. We’ve also written it in his discharge summary. I said, Well, that’s very good. What’s the reoccurrence rate of tobacco after a heart attack? And they said so Sir, it’s 50% of smokers will resume smoking within one year, after a heart attack. I said,

Well, doesn’t sound like your work is very successful. What’s the real cause of smoking? And they say, Well, you know, they sort of mumbled a few different answers, maybe exposure, maybe easy accessibility, maybe bad images in the media and so forth. I said, No, I said, all those may contribute.

But the real cause of smoking is a lack of self love. And they just sort of laughed, they said, How can that be a medical reason for smoking use?

I said, just ask the patient, ask the patient does he love themselves? Does he love himself? So one of the doctors did, and you know the patient’s response? He’s the patient said, Sir, how can I love myself? I’m not a good person.

And you see the way that it works out right? A simple habit, a simple belief becomes a habit. It and that habit leads to a disease. And that’s where our mindset, our thoughts, our beliefs, the images that we create, are creating our reality every single day. Most of us just ignore it. And we just go on living life the way that we think it should. But we never really stopped to think, what are we thinking? What are we feeling? Can we filter out the nonstop talk that goes on in our mind that we may have picked up from any number of sources. And when we filter that out, and when we replace it with thoughts of love, of peace of beauty? Well, guess what, that’s what you create in your life. And that’s what I have learned through through medicine. And that’s what I try to teach to the residents at a very basic level,

Madhav SBSS 10:43
I have to geek out on this a little bit more, is it really possible to fix

Srikanth 10:46
this, fix this belief that you have, we cannot change other people. We can’t no matter how hard we try, we cannot change other people. We can inspire people though. And so that’s what I would do. You know, I had one guy, I’ll tell you, he came to me in the outpatient department and clinic, he was his skin was great. He was one of these guys, where we see them as a cardiologist. And we know that he had heart failure, his heart was very weak, it wasn’t pumping. Well. And I, when the cardiologist sees someone like this, we know that they have a few months left to live, and his condition was beyond repair. So I gave him my usual spiel, take these medicines, eat less salt, drink less water, not more than one and a half liter per day, etc. The usual things do so much exercise.

But then I gave him my my inner spiel about how we’re creating our experiences all the time through our thoughts, our images and our beliefs. And then he went away, and I went on to the next patient.

A year later, someone taps me in the waiting area of the old PD in the clinic and says, Doc, remember me? And there is this same guy, healthy, pink looking. And his heart function is more than doubled from where it was last year. I said, How did this happened? He said, Doc, I followed everything you told me to, instead of just including working on loving myself. And you know, because of that self love, he was compliant with his medicines. He was following his diet restrictions. He took all these exercises seriously. But it changed the inner mindset, the inner, probably that higher part of himself that allowed him to recover, which probably would not have been possible.

Madhav SBSS 12:32
Otherwise, does the belief come first or the habit comes first.

Srikanth 12:37
The belief always comes first, the thoughts, the images, the beliefs that we have. This is what creates our experiences on an everyday basis. But most of us think it comes the other way. But that’s just foolishness. You really have to dig deeper. It’s our thoughts, our beliefs, our images. And so that’s why, you know, for the transition from, let’s say medicine to green technology was was not easy, but it was easier. Because I knew the you know, I had the positive mindset to to make it work.

Madhav SBSS 13:09
Yeah, actually, that’s a nice segway to switching gears a little bit into you made a gutsy move from the United States to India, leaving behind prestidge and comfort and a big paycheck. How did you arrive at a decision that doesn’t sound very easy to do, and you dropped everything and just moved?

Srikanth 13:29
Yes. So going back to my long downhill cycle, right from the age of 18. I knew that what I wanted to do was to serve society. And the work that I did at the Cleveland Clinic was just awesome. Not only you know, was the patient care, a whole stratosphere above any of the other institutions I had seen or been to before. We had tremendous opportunities there. I was working with the likes of GE Healthcare, Siemens, St. Jude’s, Boston Scientific, all the big healthcare companies were developing new technologies. Some of the products that I worked on are now in use in hundreds of 1000s of patients across the world on a yearly basis. And I really learned a lot about how to do high end research about high end biomedical engineering research. But I knew all along that what I wanted to do was to serve the people who are most in need, you know, the technology that I was creating was beyond the reach of the average person in say, developing countries. And that was what spurred me on to come back to India and I came back because I wanted to serve the country. But I wanted to be in a place where I didn’t have to do it with my hands tied behind my back. And really one of the best charity hospitals probably in the world is the three synthasite Institute of Higher Medical Sciences. They have two flagship hospitals in in South India, and they’re equipped with the latest and best technologies, that people they are great, the philosophy is wonderful, it really jives with what I was doing, wanted to do and it was

A great place to come in and settle down. And that’s where I saw cardiology from a totally different perspective. Because, you know, in the US, we grew up a little bit sheltered. But when I came to India, you know, as a doctor, we read about all these strange diseases that you see only in textbooks, but there, I saw it all. It was right in front of me, and I couldn’t believe it. I mean, really, you know, my clinical skills just shot up like anything. I mean, I was already a good doctor, but really became a superb physician, just from that exposure.

Madhav SBSS 15:32
Did you have any FUD factor at all, in this move to a new? Well, it’s not completely new place or country, but it still haven’t lived in India for a while at the time? Did you have fear or uncertainty or doubt?

Srikanth 15:47
You know, what was different is that in the US, it’s a very flat management system, right? You know, you go and call your chief of cardiology, by his first name, et cetera, et cetera, in India, in all hospitals, it’s a very hierarchical system. And that’s just the culture. And that took some time to get used to, you know, one of the things that we have to realize is that when you have an A player, you know, as someone who’s a superstar achiever, you just leave them alone, you know, they want to do what they want to do, because they do it well. And that’s part of what made them so capable. And, you know, it was strange to be in a system where, or a culture rather, and not just that hospital, but every hospital where it was such a hierarchy. And that took some time to get used to because I was used to doing what I wanted to do. But which was always aligned with the best interest of the institution. And of course, the patients that we were serving. That took some time. I think the other thing that really surprised me was my first week, you know, in the US, we have this saying, for Indians who just arrived from India into America for the first time they’re called fo B’s, which means Fresh Off the Boat. Yeah, so I was an fob, but the other way, coming from America to India, and I still remember my first week I saw this young guy, he was hardly 28 years old, he was just shoe cobbler on the street. You know, those people, if you’ve been to India, they, they have this little stall on the side of the road, and they repair sandals and footwear and stuff. And they hardly make about 300 rupees a day, that’s like six or $7 or something. And this guy had a big heart attack. And he was brought to our hospital. And there was no way that he could pay for an expensive angioplasty operation on his own. But we did his angioplasty operation for free, and he ended up walking out of the hospital. And it was such a wonderful experience. But I also thought, Well, the reason he had his heart attack was because he was exposed to air pollution all day long. He was working on the street, breathing in vehicle fumes day after day. So I was like, Oh, well, this is you know, what I had read about, you know, when the World Health Organization talks about, so many millions of people,

now 7 million people a year are dying from air pollution, I was like, go, this is one of the lucky ones who who made it. I was feeling proud of myself, obviously, that we had saved them. But then a week later, actually, even a few days later, another young fellow this time, 32 years of age, a taxi driver comes in. And he also had a heart attack from the same thing, exposure to air pollution note, none other usual risk factors, no smoking, etc. We did his angioplasty operation, and he died right in front of me. And that really hit me hard.

Of course, I had to go and explain to the family that, you know, we tried our best, but unfortunately, we couldn’t save him and know, this is something that no physician likes to do. But we all unfortunately have that responsibility. And it started this journey of looking at well shoot, you know, there’s only so many angioplasties that we can do per day, right? I mean, we can kill ourselves and see so many patients per day, it’s still a drop in the ocean, because these environmental factors and other factors, whether it’s nutrition, or pollution, or whatever, are literally wrecking havoc and actually can be fixed. The problem is that air pollution is not so easily fixed. And that’s started me on a mission of looking at, well, what kind of technology solutions can we provide to bring cleaner air to large groups of people beyond just the usual have the filters that are only useful for indoor spaces. And that’s how the background for the data grid started.

Madhav SBSS 19:23
Just to wrap up on the idea of sort of listening to your inner self, I guess, when you made the move, and it’s, I’m sure many of your colleagues or friends or family might have had other opinions on, you know, such a big Oh, yes. And how do you how do you develop that conviction in your own ideas and sort of tune out the external noise? Sure, sure.

Srikanth 19:48
So this happened to me twice, right the first time when I moved from the US to India, to work at a charitable hospital. And the second time when I moved out of Cardiology to join to begin my own story, So I’ve gone through this two times. And, you know, I think it starts with that conviction, that feeling of what you’re doing is is right for you, and is right for your family. And it’s right for society for the bigger picture. And I think that when those three things clicked together, it made sense. I remember having a conversation when I was still in Cleveland, some of the doctors, one of the doctors was telling me said, you know, how are you going to work there, you’re used to all this high end technology, and how are you going to adjust? Being in a third world country? You know, I explained to him how we had all the latest, you know, technology, the same equipment that we had, they have, et cetera, et cetera. And a year or two later, he called me saying, you know, I’ve heard about the amazing work you guys are doing there. I also heard about the amazing clinical experience that that the trainees received there. I said, Can we send our Cleveland Clinic fellows to you for training for a rotation of one or two months? I said, Sure. So thing, you know, they come around, they see the way my parents when they’re from the US, they are sorry, still living in the US. And when they came from the US to visit us in Bangalore, they also had those same doubts that once they came to this at this hospital, they saw the incredible ambience, they saw the happiness of the patients and the people working there, the healthcare workers there, that that did it for them. And they were convinced that this is the right, right way. So again, it starts from what’s right for you what’s right for your family, and what’s right for society.

Madhav SBSS 21:35
You heard mentioned, happiness in people’s faces a couple of times already. And I’m curious like, is that one of the motivations that provides the drive for you like, right? I mean, it is really, when you look at it in one angle, it’s like you’re impacting one person or a handful of people, but not necessarily scaling it to millions or billions. But there is something in it, I think I’m hearing from you, for that

Srikanth 22:09
one person, you may help just one person. But for that one person, it makes all the difference. You know, I’ve so many times I’ve had patients come back for their follow up visits after surgery or treatment or whatever in the ask, you know, let’s say it’s a mother of a young child, and we’ve operated on the child. And the mother asked questions about diet, and can they play and all those things, and I tell them, ma’am, your son or daughter is now completely normal, they can have a normal life. And the shock of this when they see this, you know, the happiness that they see that I see on their face. that’s priceless. You know, that’s just that is real beauty. You know, that is real beauty, actually. And now with our green technology company, we use the same philosophy see when I was at satisfy hospital is about serving the patients. Now, as a business owner, as a small business owner, with a startup, a green tech company, it’s about serving our customers. But when I was in health care, the most beautiful moments were when our patients would come to us and say as they were leaving, God bless you, and God bless your family, they would say this. And what I tell our employees is that we should bring such clean air to billions of people that they say to you, God bless everyone that they Vicar we can breathe clean air again. And that’s, that’s really, you know, that’s earning, that’s an income. That is the odd measure.

Madhav SBSS 23:39
Wonderful. That’s actually a beautiful segue into the second segment of our conversation, which is debit card, which is your current startup, and can you describe to a six year old? What is it that you do at baby?

Srikanth 23:59
Sure, sure. So what we do is we bring clean air over large areas. And we’ve been doing this for about 1213 years now. The company has been in place for about three years, and we have about 4050 installations across India. India, unfortunately, is the most polluted country in the world. And we do very well. We’re able to clean up large areas by a very simple technology. Basically applying small electrical charges through antennas to provide pulsed radio energy, which allows pollution to be cleared at a much more rapid rate. What happens in nature, suppose you don’t dust your desk for a few days, you don’t wash your car for a week, you’ll see a layer of dust on top right? Yeah, that’s just the normal collision of dust particles together and then they settle out. That’s how nature cleans up most of the pollution in the atmosphere, at least most of the dust. What we’re seeing is visible dust, but there’s also a lot of microscopic pollutants that also settle down What we do is we just speed up that process using pulsed radio energy. And these particles have charged sights on them plus and negative charges. And when they’re exposed to certain types of pulsed radio energy, we use Wi Fi, only the same kind of Wi Fi that comes from your router at home. They just speed up how quickly they move, and they collide a little bit faster, and they settle down a little bit faster. But it’s only works on microscopic particles. So you don’t get a layer of dust whenever our systems are in place. And we link these together, just like imagine, you know, when you’re an airport, or a big hotel or something, we link these together in a network to be able to cover large areas, our biggest installation is about 750 acres

Madhav SBSS 25:45
of massive. Actually, when I moved from, when we moved as a family from Boston to India, one of the stark differences I used to notice was that I would clean the desk or the TV screen or the laptop screen. And then within an hour or two, it’s all back to dust. And I had never done that. Even the car for example, like you mentioned, how clean the car and wash it with water and whatnot. And within a day, it’s all back to normal, like fully covered with dust

Srikanth 26:17
are part of that is geographical countries in South Asia have soil characteristics that causes salt, the soil top layer to be dispersed very easily. And when the wind blows, and that creates these dust particles that we then see in these areas. So it’s common. That’s just nature, there’s really nothing we could do about it. But then what’s happening is that rapid urbanization and industrialization, increasing population, and so forth, is accelerating the amount of dust particles, what we call pollutants into the atmosphere. And that, of course, affects everybody,

So it’s not just the developed countries think about what happened across the western United States, in during the storms, right, when the rash fires, sorry, the wildfires last year, right, large areas go extending all the way to New York on the other side, were affected by poor air quality. So it’s a worldwide phenomenon, unfortunately.

I think nine out of 10 people across the world according to the World Health Organization, and breathe air that is not fit for breathing.

Madhav SBSS 27:19
Got it. Yep. And is the product that you talked about? You said that sort of takes away that dust?

Srikanth 27:30
Well, what we do again, is we’re accelerating what is happening naturally, so we don’t have a purifier. We don’t use fans, the units look like big Wi Fi routers. Earlier, we had our antennas on top of the box, the cabinet. But then when we did some installations in Varanasi Varanasi is a famous temple town, in India, the monkeys there are really aggressive. And we figured out that they’re just going to pull the antennas, right off boxes. So now everything is contained inside this card at the product development, so to speak, thanks to these monkeys. But yeah, their boxes, the size of microwave ovens are bigger depending on whether they’re for indoor or outdoor use. And they just send out pulsed radio energy again, just like Wi Fi, but in a way that doesn’t interfere with your home Wi Fi or office Wi Fi signals. And because the energy is so weak, it’s only able to affect the microscopic stuff. So you don’t see dust on the ground. If the dust will settle to the ground, the Pm 10pm 2.5, which are types of microscopic air pollutants will settle down to the ground, but they’re in such low concentrations that they don’t accumulate to a significant amount.

Madhav SBSS 28:46
Got it? Is the day because the product of your inner voice or is it a customer

Srikanth 28:54
voice? You know, I’d like to think it was inspired by those two patients of mine and really indebted to them. But what I find, you know, people ask me, how did you innovate this? And how did you come up with this idea? Because people have in the startup space, we’re always talking about innovation whenever that’s it’s what we do. We make new things that are going to disrupt the world that are going to reinvent the world. And what I realized that if we’re going to reinvent the world, then we have to reinvent ourselves first. And for me that comes from inside, not from outside. And so yes, that inspiration did come from inside from the inner voice. And so that’s made it a bit challenging because we actually did. We actually started with the almost the finished product. Of course there are a lot of successes and failures along the way. But we started with that product and then we had to work backwards to figure out how does it work. And now, fortunately, we have really awesome people working with us. We’re hiring a bunch of PhDs. We’re doing a great project with the Institute of Technology in Kanpur wouldn’t be India’s one of India’s most prestigious academic institutions. And we have a lot of work on this. But it did start from that insight and in what I tell people is that innovation is actually something that comes from within, when we are quiet, when we are silent inside, that gives us the space to connect with that higher part of ourselves.

You can call it higher self, the higher soul, the higher consciousness, whatever you want, it doesn’t matter. Take it as far as you want. But when we’re silent inside, we’re able to access that better part of ourselves. And I think I believe that’s where those answers come from.

And I really feel that the answer to every problem, every difficulty, every challenge that we’re facing, whether it’s in society or personal lies, is found inside. It’s found there. And that’s where you’ll get those answers not outside, not through technology, not through apps, but it’s found inside.

Madhav SBSS 31:05
Oh, how do you reinvent yourself? Because you said, to invent something outside, you have to first invent something inside? I guess, in some sense. Yes. What in particular that you had to reinvent in within yourself? Do you have anything specific to share?

Srikanth 31:21
So you know, when we were coming up with the pure skies, technology, we were looking at a lot of different technologies that were available. When we started this project in 2008. We looked at heppa filters or metallic filters, we look at ionization type devices. And eventually, you know, pure skies work similar to ionization, which has been around for decades, in a type of air pollution control equipment called electrostatic precipitators. Or ESP. S, every heavy industry uses them. And we sort of do the same thing, but with a totally different approach. So what we were doing is basically saying, well, this is their This is their This is the current technology, how could we make it better? Right? Can we make an incremental difference? That’s what we were looking at. But then what we realize is that all of these were very limited. The current approaches to improving air quality and getting rid of pollution were very limited, because they all covered just a small area. But how do we make something that will affect hundreds of 1000s? if not millions of people in a beneficial way, while being safe and economical. At the same time? That was the question we had. And so we went through a lot of iterations. And it required a lot of patience. It required this feeling that it’s okay to fail. And this was a big difficulty I had, you know, because as a cardiologist, if you fail on a patient, man, that’s, there’s no tolerance for failure. And actually, in medicine, really, you don’t have that tolerance for failure. But when it comes to inventing something new, we had to actually bring that out of myself, which I never had before. I was used to getting things right the first time I was used to doing things superbly with excellence. And now here I was having to be patient and try things and know that nine out of 10 times it might not work. And that was a new learning for me that I had to had to really I’m still learning it actually.

Madhav SBSS 33:17
So that that’s a beautiful way to say it. Like you have to first invent or reinvent yourself, before you can invent something outside. I that’s a wonderful perspective. So you had this brilliant idea based on your experience doing this on a daily basis. But then, how did you act on this brilliant idea what happened next? What was your minimum viable product? Like, right, right?

Srikanth 33:42
Yes, you know, we’re in cardiology, we use ultrasound, we call it echocardiography of the heart, and we you use ultrasound energy, the same ultrasound energy that we use when we do scans of pregnant women to check the baby’s health. And when we send that energy continuously, we create one effect. When we send it in pulsed manner, we create another effect. Well, in addition to cardiac ultrasound, or Echo, I was also doing cardiac MRI scans of the heart and MRI scans is just pulsed radio waves. It’s just pulse radio energy, and you have an antenna, which transmits that radio energy into the body. And then it receives the signals that come back as well. So it’s a transmitting and receiving antenna. And when we pulse that radio energy in different ways, we can create different effects. It occurred to me that you know what, radio energy is really about the only thing that can act at a distance, right? See, if you look at the whole planet, there are only a couple of forces that are actually active right you have gravity, you have electromagnetic energy, you have electrostatic energy and a few others. And electromagnetic magnetic energy is the one that can work at a distance. And this is what I was looking for. I wanted to be able to improve air quality over distance. And that’s how I came upon the idea. What if we post these radio waves, because Anyway, these are all charged particles, we can take advantage of their charge, and then make them do what we want. And that’s that’s how the inspiration came. It’s easy to say it took years of effort to bring that into a form that was reliable, that was easily reproducible, that would work in different environments, and so forth. But we were fortunate, I think, just as much as the person, you know, the team that I had built up with me that people who helped me were important, as well, as was the environment I was working at satisfy hospitals and non commercial charitable hospitals. So I didn’t have the pressures to go out and say, see lots of patients and earn revenue for the hospital and so forth. That wasn’t there. As long as I was taking care of that patients and providing them with world class quality care, that was always the first priority. And we were encouraged to do research, as long as it would benefit society, that was the T criterion. And so I had the space I had the ability I had the time. And pretty soon I had the funding, I got research funding for the Ministry of Environment, and forest, and other organizations. And then fast forward 10 years, when I saw that this technology was benefiting people not only in terms of cleaning up the air for 10 kilometers around the hospital. But also when our system was on, there was a measurable reduction in the number of people who lived within that area benefited by our technology with cleaner air, people who are coming to the hospital with heart attacks, with strokes with asthma exacerbations, they all came down by as much as a third. And that was when it struck me, man. I caught myself all day, just trying to prevent a fraction of this, or I can put these systems up and literally benefit millions of people every single day. And that’s when the thick Earth was born.

Madhav SBSS 36:55
you’d mentioned something that sort of has been popularized by Elon Musk and others, actually a couple of things. One is around first principles, thinking, obviously, you saw a bunch of solutions, but you were not happy with it. So you had to reinvent and think, completely out of the box. wanted to touch on that and see if you had anything specific that you want to share around first principles thinking. And the second thing was around failures and how you’re not really used to that as a cardiologist operated by someone who wants to experiment on me.

Unknown Speaker 37:26
Yes, exactly.

Madhav SBSS 37:27
But I recall Jeff Bezos talking about if you want to fail, Amazon is the best company to come work for, like that failure and learning culture. Yes, yeah. Those two aspects, could you share a little bit more around like first principles thinking and experimentation and failure as part of Right, right.

Srikanth 37:46
So my inspiration in this was actually Thomas Edison. Right? He, although he’s widely credited with creating the first light bulb, it was actually the form of wire that he created, that was so successful. And when he had done this, so many hundreds of times, people asked him how it was. And he said, Well, what I learned was some 200 odd ways of how not to create the incandescent bulb. And that was what sort of kept me going, I said, I know that I can see the result, I could actually see visualize the end result in my, you know, inner self, I could actually I knew it was there. And it was just a matter of time. And what happened is, you I think, the problem with first principle thinking is it’s coming from the mind. And the mind, as you know, is actually a monkey mind. It doesn’t sit still. And so when you talk about first principle, thinking, you’re actually limiting yourself to what the mind can do. But when you can act from that higher part of yourself, then there is no limits to what you can create, really, there’s no limits, you know, we have taken our technology, for example, and we have adapted it, adapted it to water purification, not in not for drinking water, but rather for lakes and rivers. And in not just the developing world, but around the world. Our water bodies are suffering from tremendous pollution. And we have shown that with this technology, we’re able to bring down certain types of pollutants, organic pollutants, by anywhere from 50 to 70%, in freshwater bodies themselves, not just in the lab, but actually in real life studies. That’s huge. You know, that’s tremendous. And, you know, the pandemic has pushed the the launch of that product back a little bit, but that’s okay. But that kind of, I wouldn’t call it first principles thinking I would call it that inner self approach that higher self approach and I think that’s much more powerful. The moment you limit yourself to the level of the mind, you are being, you’re going to be taken controller by the monkey mind. Marine and that’s a mad monkey. It’s a mad monkey. Don’t let it take control of you. Go back into silence. Go back. into that inner peace that that, you know, what I tell my students is the only time we have is right now. There’s no past and there’s no future, it’s just this immediate moment and said in this immediate moment, sacrifice every thought, every impulse and every desire, just get rid of it. So you can stay in this now, moment. And when you do that, that’s when the real solutions will present themselves to you.

Madhav SBSS 40:29
Very interesting perspective on listening to that inner self or inner voice. And you recommend something around, just be silent. Like, yes, what kind of practice? Like, do you have a practice that helps you like if I’m, I mean, I’m XYZ, and I’m where I am, I’m always constantly looking for the next shiny object or whatever and constantly distracted, just like you said, Mad Mad monkey. How does one go from that mad monkey state to actually listening? And keeping silent and listening to this higher voice and be actually convinced that this is this is the voice I should be listening to not these market research reports or these reports or TechCrunch articles like Right, right. Right.

Srikanth 41:20
You know, that’s? That’s a good question. I think it takes constant effort, it takes constant refinement. Because while our minds are very powerful, our intelligence is tremendous human intelligence is tremendous human ability and potential is unparalleled. We’ve created more technology and so many amazing solutions in the last few decades that we’ve had in the last few millennia. But there is that inner part of ourselves, which we have been we’ve tapped into, gives us real power.

I mean, if you look at the great athletes, very no first principles thinking there, many of them were able to go into that silent part of themselves, that higher part of themselves, you’ll see all of them have these routines and rituals that they do was just help to train them better. S

o that they can perform better athletes do this, great scientists do this great musicians do it. We all do it unconsciously, when we want to. The practice really assists to do it all the time. Right. And when that happens, then you’ll just get bombarded with new ideas, new insights, new evolutions. I think touching on the second part of your question is how do you fail and fail joyfully? As opposed to, you know, one of the things that we do at David Earth is, we try very hard not to point fingers, that others, you know, if there’s something wrong, instead of pointing a finger, let’s fix it and make it better. That takes a shift in mindset. If we fail, then we applaud those failures, because we’ve tried. But you know, we’ve learned from those failures, and I tell you, the next generation technology of our pure skies systems are so awesome. I mean, the way they work this is because we have failed so many, many times. But we’ve also been able to apply that in to make our technology so much better. And it comes from that constant failure, success, re learning, improving, and getting back up each time you fail.

Madhav SBSS 43:17
How can you have failures? I wanted to ask you a question later, but I’ll ask now, like, is there because so far, I’ve all I’ve heard is hunky dory. Everything is going great. But I cannot imagine that’s the case. Is there a dark moment or things that really made you reaping? God doubt yourself?

Srikanth 43:40
Yeah, to do you know, doing this kind of Yeah, definitely. Many, many times actually. See, when you form a startup, it is not for the faint of heart. You will suffer ignominy for some time people that you know will wonder why did you leave your well paying job to join a company where you’re not even getting paid for so many months, or you’re getting paid very little peanuts compared to what you were before. There’s a loss of prestige, there’s a loss of status, there’s a loss of salary and financial benefits. I was lucky because I had a very supportive family. Although they did also doubt at times, but very much they were very, very supportive. And that helped tremendously. But you have to be prepared for those dark moments you have to be prepared for man, is it really worth it? You’re working like like cats and dogs to get your company going.

There will always be doubters, there will always be naysayers, and we have to learn to take those doubts and negative comments and turn it into something positive because what we do is we actually look at how we can make our product stronger. How can we improve ourselves? How can we take that negative feedback and actually use it to improve make ourselves better.

We don’t expect our company or ourselves to be perfect, but we can become better. And we can become better every day. And so if you’re thinking of joining a startup after listening to me, just wait. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Madhav SBSS 45:21
Yep, absolutely. It’s, it’s a long and could be a pretty tiring or tedious in terms of. But but it’s Yeah, does your Do you have a practice for like, meditation practice or something that helps you?

Srikanth 45:37
During I do for many years I’ve been practicing meditation, I was lucky that my grandfather was a yogi, of sorts. I mean, he was a very accomplished in meditation. And so when I was around 18 1718, actually started learning meditation from him. And that helped me to excel not just in my personal life and personality, but also academically, you know, I’ve found that when the shoot, if the mind is so quiet, well, I can read my books and pick up the material and half the time, then my classmates did. So I did really well academically, whether it was at Stanford, or whether it was as medical school or residency training or cardiology fellowship training, I did really well. And it wasn’t because I was smart. I mean, there are many, many students and classmates who are way smarter than me. But it’s just that my mind was quiet. And when it was quiet, it was just able to absorb and understand and retain so much more. So these kinds of inner practices are very valuable. But perhaps because the world today has such an external focus, perhaps we’ve forgotten the value of these more internal processes

Madhav SBSS 46:49
is the meditation of a particular type, like if you don’t mind sharing, like how much time you spend on it. When do you do it? What do you do? Is it like a chanting a mantra?

Srikanth 47:00
Sure. So I do, I just become quiet, I become silent. And I focus on that larger part of the self that actually has no boundaries. It has no limits. It has no beginning. And it has no end. And that part is there within all of us, you just have to look inside of you and ask Where do I begin? And where do I end? What we like to think of as an iPhone like product, but in a simple box. And what we’re doing now is you’re making it much more aesthetic, and we’re also customizing it to different uses. You know, a lot of our customers are heavy industries, factories, and so forth. And they have specific requirements. Somebody wants the box to be entirely flameproof. Okay, fine, we do that and we get it certified. Somebody wants it to be resistant to sea salt spray, because they’re near the ocean. Okay, fine. We do that, and we get it certified accordingly. But what’s happening now, and again, this is where we look at that out of the box thinking that you mentioned, of course, the technology is going to become smaller and smaller. Of course, it’s going to become effective. Of course, the research papers will be published in peer reviewed scientific journals, of course, the patents will come out and the community will be built, all those will happen over time. But when we’re looking out of the box, we think, how can we get this to everybody? Okay, now, all of you listening to this, you have a mobile phone. And your mobile phone has a hotspot, which is actually just a Wi Fi antenna, maybe somewhat different from the type of antennas we use, but it’s still a Wi Fi antenna, and our pure skies, tech works on Wi Fi. And so our long term goal is what we call pure skies. 3.0 is to basically give you an app that you download from the store. And now you give it permission to use your phone’s hotspot and then it posts is that same Wi Fi energy, what we use in our bigger units, but from your phone. And so now you have an air purifier in your pocket that you can carry around with you go to school, you go to the gym, you go to office, the grocery store, you just leave it at home, and it just powers the challenge, of course is to make sure that it doesn’t drain all your battery, and so forth. And we’re working on that. But again, this is that out of the box type of thinking that we have to look at how can we make clean air available to everyone? Yes, we have to have on a society level, greater energy efficiency, a shift to more renewable energy. We have to have tried tighter emission norms, more stringent regulations are actually more implementation and enforcement of those regulations, including fines and penalties levied as appropriate. But at the same time, we need to make sure that we can do this in a way that reaches everybody. Everyone across the planet. And that’s our goal.

Madhav SBSS 49:49
We’re both your darkest moment in this journey with David Hart. Was there one and how did you cope with that like?

Srikanth 49:58
Sure, sure. I think our toughest moment in the company was when unfortunately, one of our employees died on the job during an accident due to an accident. And that was really hard. Obviously, as a company, we take care of employee safety and well being. And as a physician, you know, I’m pretty strict with even things like making sure that our employees who travel have been vaccinated against, you know, whatever infectious agents are out there. It’s not just say Coronavirus, which is, you know, not widely available yet in most countries. Although I’ve been vaccinated myself. There are other vaccines like flu and cholera and so forth that we do, we really take a lot of attention, whether it’s safety gear, safety equipment, despite all that there is an accident that caused this young man to lose his life. And that was hard. That’s hard, you lose someone who’s both an employee and a friend. And that took its toll I think on us. But having said that, we really, you know, I think that training as a physician kicked in, and that’s where you’re able to work in a crisis situation, completely at a very high level of work. But without getting bogged down by the emotional trauma of it all, it took time later to process it. But during that time, we swung into action we did whatever was necessary for him and the family. We did grief counseling for our team, as a group, we renamed our plant after the employee who had passed away, we did individual counseling sessions for anyone who requested it, we really did a lot of work to bring our team back together. And what we’re seeing now is a few months later, that our team is stronger than ever, you know, we are team is much stronger for the event. And of course, we won’t forget whatever what happened we won’t forget the family of that way.

They are family, we don’t even call our employees a team. We call our employees, our family. And we call them our Devic Earth family. When someone new joins, we say welcome to the Devic Earth family. And we really mean it.

And that was, that was something that no business experience can train you up for, perhaps my cardiology experience as a physician being able to function in high crisis situations came in handy at that time. Your specific

Madhav SBSS 52:13
meditation practice, if you don’t mind, share a little bit more around. How often do you practice when you practice and what you practice in that?

Srikanth 52:22
Sure, sure. Well, while I do sitting meditation practices twice a day, maybe overall, about an hour or an hour and a half or so what I do actually, is I make my meditation process the whole day. And what I had mentioned to you earlier is just live in the present moment. So what I will do is I will just focus on the present, whatever I’m doing right now, whether it’s my my work or being with family, or driving or whatever, and anything that’s not related to that. Even that impulse, even another desire, I will just sacrifice it, I will just get rid of it. So I’m just completely in that now moment. And you know, in the present moment, through so much power, there’s so much energy, I don’t get tired. After working 10 or 11 hours a day, I don’t feel fatigued.

Because I’m not using the ego, that monkey mind energy to do the work. I’m just staying in that now moment. And in that now moment, everything is there, in that silence is such a tremendous power. And all you have to do is just stay focus completely on what you’re doing now.

And whatever thought feeling impulse, desire comes up that’s unrelated to the task at hand. Just sacrifice it, just get rid of it, throw it in the imaginary fire or imaginary dustbin. I throw it into a volcano. That works for me, whatever it is, but we all do this, we all do this actually look at any great musician, athlete, surgeon, I’ll do this all the time pilot. It’s just that we have to be become more conscious of it and bring it into our regular lives instead of just those short, compact moments when we’re performing fine. Yeah, meditation and living in the now is 24 by

Madhav SBSS 54:09
seven. It’s 24 by seven very interesting. So you are saying that multitasking is a med sort of you have the Instagram updates and tweets and whatnot. And you feel like you’re checking your email and browsing at the same time and very feeling very productive, but it’s actually gas energy out of you.

Srikanth 54:27
Exactly. In fact, what I tell our employees it says don’t focus on dizziness. there’s a there’s a culture now of being busy. As long as you’re active, you’re doing Sunday says don’t focus on that. I said focus on outcomes, focus on results. I said don’t give me reasons, give me results. And that’s what I want to see from my employees and I teach them these things. I hope it it rubs off. But I want to move I want our team, our family members to move away from being busy to focusing on the results on the outcomes of what we’re Doing. And if you do that, even if you make mistakes, it works out just fine.

Madhav SBSS 55:06
How big is the family? Now?

Srikanth 55:09
Yeah, we’re about 21 people and we’re hiring. We’re looking for, you know, a level players who are smart and nice and easy to get along with and work hard. But for growing, we’ll probably be at around 50 or so by the end of this calendar year.

Madhav SBSS 55:25
What is the moonshot for Baby got to go to sleep tonight and wake up after four years? Maybe Kurt is super successful, what do you think that would look like?

Srikanth 55:34
Okay, well, part of our rnb is looking at renewable energy. And looking at energy storage devices that are cheap, that can be made without lithium or without higher, you know, costly, rare earth metals, and so forth. And so what we’re looking at is making these types of devices, cheap and easily available, so that we don’t have to have expensive ways of storing or transporting energy. And this is what we work on. This is what I work on every day, before I go to office, in my little lab at home. And what I want to do is to bring this available to the world so that everybody can benefit energy should be cheap, it should be plentiful, it should be green, and it should be easily pure curable and transportable

Madhav SBSS 56:21
and safe. You just touched on something that I just can’t ignore. I have read Paul Graham, one of the startup guys talk about maker schedule versus manager schedule, like you touched on you tinkering in your home lab, do you have a manager schedule versus a maker schedule.

Srikanth 56:42
So we do have certain activities, you know, as a as a CEO, we have objectives, we have our outcomes, we do aka okrs, from john Andy Grove, you know, of Intel, fame, and so forth. And we love those. The main thing is to delegate, right? To build the team to build the product. And to keep track of the big picture, while also paying attention to the details, the tiny details matter, right. And it’s those tiny details that can make or break a product, especially when it’s something like ours, which can often be an extreme or harsh environments. And so those details do matter. But as far as how I run my day, any time I’m getting stressed, anytime I’m getting tired, anytime I’m getting nervous, I immediately stop.

Because I know that I’m not living in the present moment, I’ve lost it, I’ve lost that connection to the present, I just stop what I’m doing. And immediately I focus on the task at hand. And I just just like that athlete, or a great musician or a great surgeon, I will just sacrifice every single desire, impulse and thought that is not related to that now moment. And then the fatigue and the stress goes away.

Madhav SBSS 57:56
So as an avid runner, what’s the best part of running for you?

Srikanth 58:00
The best part of running is running with my dogs can be especially when they see a cat or a squirrel.

Madhav SBSS 58:09
They go crazy. Yeah, yep. Do you have any book that you have cherished? learned a lot from or gifted to folks? You know, right

Srikanth 58:18
now I’m reading a book by john chambers, the former CEO of Cisco, called connected dots. And he’s like a fountain of wisdom. And I really resonate with a lot of what he says he’s a lot about, about being ready for what’s next. And that’s really what we’re doing at David currents. I really resonate with what john Jay

Madhav SBSS 58:41
says, super connecting the dots, no better person than john chambers. I had worked in networking industry in my first job for a while competing with Cisco. So I know. JOHN, Jim was quite well. What one piece of advice would you give your teenage self if you could, time travel?

Srikanth 59:03
Yeah, if I could go back, I would just say just love yourself. Just love yourself, you know, because then it gives you permission to make mistakes. It gives you permission to not be perfect. It gives you permission to try new things that maybe I wouldn’t have tried before maybe I would have kept up with my music or my art. You know, I still just love I would just say just love yourself, who according

Madhav SBSS 59:25
to you is the most successful person in the world,

Srikanth 59:28
the one with the least desires.

Madhav SBSS 59:30
And one truth you believe in that nobody else believes in

Srikanth 59:34
love is everything. Love is what matters. And if you have that love, then you really are the wealthiest person in the world.

Madhav SBSS 59:42
Imagine a full moon and everyone in the world can see whatever is on the moon. What would you write on it or put on it?

Srikanth 59:52
I would write three simple letters. I would write joy. Yes because we forgotten What it’s like to be joyous, we forgotten what it’s like, we get too serious in our lives. And when we get serious, we’re no longer living, we’re just merely existing.

So I would put joy because when we have that joy, you know, that joy that you just get out of bed and you’re so happy. You know, you just play with your dogs or laugh with your friends and family or you enjoy a good meal. It’s beyond that kind of physical thing. It’s just that joy that comes from the inside, and just fills everything that you do. That kind of joy.

Madhav SBSS 1:00:31
And the last question, if people want to connect with you, what’s the best way they can be?

Srikanth 1:00:36
Yeah, please reach out to me. My details are available on our website or LinkedIn. I don’t check Facebook, please. I’m sorry. I’m always available to help and I look forward to connecting with you.

Madhav SBSS 1:00:49
Awesome. I can’t stop asking. This question has been popping up several times in my mind, like I see your smiling, very anxious, like, where does that come from?

Srikanth 1:01:02
Can it comes back from that joy comes back from living in the present moment. Just being in that now. Because in that now there’s silence in that silence. There’s love in that love. Is everything.

Madhav SBSS 1:01:20
Beautiful. Is there anything else that we didn’t touch on that? some parting words?

Srikanth 1:01:25
I think Madhav You did great. I really enjoyed talking with you. And it was a lot of fun. And I really have enjoyed the opportunity. So thank you so much.

Madhav SBSS 1:01:34
Awesome. Srikanth it was such a joy chatting with you, and I wish you the best. Hopefully we’ll do a part two sometime. There’s so much to learn from you. And until then I wish you the best in making a dent in the universe.

Srikanth 1:01:48
Thank you

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