Initiative Education

Transformative tool: how can revolutionise academic writing

Most of us have gone through the frustrating experience of formatting a document either for a project report, thesis, or proposal. Especially frustrating is when you need to add obscure formulas, equations, and symbols. Things get messier when it is a group effort, and your team ends up losing a large chunk of work accidentally, or it turns out that more than one member has worked on the same section.

Saikiran Chandha experienced something similar when he was working on his term thesis at VIT University, Vellore, in 2014. This motivated him to do something about it. He says, “Our university sent us a guidelines document on how the thesis should be formatted. I spent many hours formatting it and finally submitted my thesis. The same process was repeated after a few months when I was submitting to a journal.”

He continues, “I got frustrated with the entire process and reached out to my peers and friends in the U.S. Everyone had the same problem. People were complaining, but no one had a solution. Moreover, we were collaborating by emailing Microsoft Word documents back and forth with endless “Track Changes” and “Comments” layered on top of each other.” Realising that there should be a better way to write research papers and collaborate on documents, he quit his full-time job and set out to build his idea.

At AngelHack Bangalore, a hackathon, he and a friend built the first prototype of They went on to win AngelHack Global Demo Day at San Francisco. “That was the turning point,” Saikiran recalls. “ transformed from a side project to a company.” He was then chosen to attend Stanford University’s Ignite, an innovation programme, in 2015. Through this experience, he met his co-founder, Shanu, who had previously been part of Ignite, and had graduated from IIT Kharagpur in 2013.

Entrepreneurship was a natural fit for Shanu. “I have always had a knack for trying and figuring out new things. Experimentation is challenging but fun. When Saikiran pitched the idea of, I could relate to the problem that it was solving. I thought, here is an opportunity to build something useful for researchers.”

Initially, there were some stumbling blocks. “We made bad hiring decisions in the beginning. This delayed the beta launch and created a huge tech debt,” says Saikiran.

Doubling down

They doubled down on hiring efforts and started work afresh in August 2015, with Saikiran as CEO and Shanu as CTO. “We have learnt a lot during the process, and this experience helped us to set a plan and process in place, which enabled us to attract top talent. Without the right talent, company is bound to fail,” admits Saikiran.

Shanu adds, “Lately, most people starting up are first-time founders who lack experience. There are lot of unknown areas in your business that you won’t have the answer to such as ‘will customers use your product?’, ‘how profitable will your business be?’, and so on. At early stages, there is no reliable answer to this. The daily struggle is to continue being resilient and figure out answers to these questions.” is now a company of 10, including designers and engineers. Shanu and Saikiran speak admiringly of the experience and skillsets each one brings to the team.

So, what does do? Saikiran explains, “ is an authoring and collaboration platform for researchers. It provides an editor built for research writing that automates formatting, simplifies collaboration and version control, and does instant publishing in multiple formats.

Publishers then receive structured metadata from the platform. Anyone who is involved in an academic ecosystem and writes documents (such as research or journals papers, technical documentation, teaching material, white papers and so on) can use our product to improve their productivity and workflow.” recently closed another round of funding and have plans to set up an entity in the US. They are currently based out of Bengaluru. Find out more at . You can also get in touch with the co-founders by e-mail ( , or on Twitter (@saikiranchandha).

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2022 5:30:03 am |