As a first year, starting your own company is no easy feat. Majoring in Cognitive Science, with an emphasis in machine learning, Anand is eager to make the Internet more accessible to all, creating a software that will utilize machine learning techniques to analyze a website for ease of use and accessibility issues.
She hopes that her concept for Aethella.ai will bring more attention towards the lack of accessibility many softwares today have and improve the standard for usability across the board, focusing currently on conducting interviews with those with disabilities to better understand the scope of accessibility.
Read more on HerStory and journey in the Incubator track, a yearlong program designed to help early-stage student founders assess and validate their business venture and develop their minimal viable product.
What excites you about your work?
My partner and I are trying to create software that can analyze websites and pick out aspects of design that may cause accessibility issues. It's a really untapped field - there are not many startups that are dedicated solely to software dedicated to improving accessibility in design. I really want to help a demographic that is frequently ignored.
We will use an AI algorithm to train the websites that have good designs vs bad design, creating software that will take information and redesign and layout aspects of the website.
How did you first get involved with The Basement & the UC San Diego entrepreneurial community?
Both of my parents are software engineers, though I never considered doing anything entrepreneurial. My father always said that the best job is to work for yourself. I had never seriously considered it, especially with very little coding experience and almost no business experience. It was just an idea.
I was looking for resources and the Blackstone Launchpad was the perfect fit for me. The program is fantastic! Even though I'm nowhere close to building the product, I’ve learned so much, particularly through customer discovery interviews, The Basement really helped me ground myself and take it step by step with a clear timeline. I wouldn't know where to go without this resource.
What campus resources have helped you throughout your student entrepreneurial journey?
I really think UC San Diego as a campus is filled with so many people in the innovation space. I can have a conversation with a friend or classmate and I am constantly learning from them. The campus is extremely collaborative - a spark to start your own startup. It’s also how I found my partner Emily Jin, who was in one of my classes and shared the same passion for accessibility.
How do you balance being a full-time student while also running a startup?
Do things that don’t feel like a chore. Building a startup is something I truly wanted to do, not just to boost my resume. I take classes that truly interest me. It comes naturally because I genuinely enjoy them. I don't want to give up anything. Everything you do in life should bring value to your life.
Being part of the first class of Seventh College is really exciting. I've always been the person to try new things...I wanted to be part of the first group of people to shake this college and make a mark. Climate change is extremely important to me so it was a perfect fit.
What role have mentors played in your success/journey?
The Basement team has been so important to me. I’m always asking them questions about my direction, steps, and path. They are the ones that put me on a track. They give me advice, they help ground me. I’m really lucky that my entire family has a wide range of professions - including an uncle who is an entrepreneur. I'm surrounded by so many people that support what I am doing.
What advice would you give to another UC San Diego student thinking about starting a company?
I think a big thing that stops a lot of people is the idea that starting a company is unreachable. That isn't true. Even if you don't know what you are doing, if you have an idea and drive that is enough. You can find the people and resources to fill in the gaps. Use your resources on campus! Take it one step at a time if you have an idea. It is doable.