In technology, where innovation emerges at every corner, few stories capture the imagination as vividly as that of Pranjali Awasthi.
In 2022, this 16-year-old entrepreneur, originating from the academic backdrop of India, introduced the world to her brainchild, Delv.AI. Fast forward to just a year later, and this startup holds a notable position with a valuation of Rs 100 crore (about $12 million).
Beyond the numbers and accolades, Awasthi’s journey underscores the intricate weave of education, cultural influences, and personal drive. Her trajectory, a blend of her Indian educational roots and her exposure to global tech ecosystems, offers an insight into the factors that mold young tech visionaries of this era.
The formative years: India to Florida
Awasthi’s early exposure to technology in India was influenced by her engineer father’s dedication to computer science education. By the tender age of seven, she had plunged into coding, indicative of her aptitude and the foundational role of her initial schooling. She tells Business Insider:
“My dad is an engineer who believes computer science is a course that should be taught alongside other core programs in schools.”
“His passion and values encouraged me to get into coding when I was seven,” she added.
The educational canvas broadened for Awasthi when, at age 11, her family’s move to Florida opened doors to specialized computer science courses and rigorous math programs.
Blending institutional knowledge with personal initiative
Beyond the confines of structured courses, Awasthi demonstrated her zeal by interning at Florida International University’s research labs at a mere 13 years of age. She said,
“As a research intern, I was hyper-aware of how hard it was getting to find exactly what you needed on search engines.”
This hands-on experience allegedly enabled her to delve deeper into the nuances of machine learning. Her learning journey, a harmonious amalgamation of self-directed pursuits and structured training from both Indian and American educational frameworks, became instrumental in honing her technological prowess.
Awasthi noted that her experiences as an intern, combined with the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT-3 beta, inspired her to think about using AI to streamline the data extraction process.
Delv.AI’s conception and global vision
What started as an idea during her internship days began to take shape as Awasthi’s determination grew. “Delv.AI wasn’t a fully formed idea yet, but I knew I wanted to start a company using machine learning to extract data and eliminate data silos,” she shared.
Her ambition found wings at the Miami Hack Week, where she connected with the founders of a startup accelerator, Backend Capital. She accepted their invitation into a 12-week cohort and launched Delv.AI’s beta on Product Hunt, gaining significant traction.
While rooted in her Indian heritage, Awasthi’s vision for Delv.AI was always global. She envisaged a platform where researchers across the world could leverage AI to pinpoint the exact information they sought, breaking down the barriers that traditional search engines posed.
Education, values, and future pathways
Awasthi’s story transcends her achievements, offering a panoramic view of India’s evolving educational ethos. While India prides itself on academic traditions, Awasthi’s trajectory showcases a delicate balance between these traditions and the entrepreneurial aspirations of the country’s youth.
“My parents are Indian, so academics are a priority for them,” Awasthi reflected, acknowledging the challenges her decisions posed to traditional expectations. Yet, with her achievements and vision, she embodies education’s transformative potential and relentless ambition.