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Game changers: Women in innovation — Joyeeta Das

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As part of our 'Game changers' series we meet Joyeeta Das, who was selected for 2 Innovate UK entrepreneur missions to the US. She is founder and CEO of Gyana, a startup that uses big data and social media trends in the form of a recently launched, enhanced search tool.

Joyeeta Das is an inspiring game changer. She’s an Innovate UK women in innovation campaign ambassador, mentor to young female entrepreneurs, and founder and CEO of data visualisation startup Gyana.

Gyana is an enhanced search tool that allows people to find information based on the emotional ‘vibe’ of a location as well as aggregating a huge variety of data about from a multitude of sources.

It makes big data easier to understand and supplements this by analysing social media trends in order to interpret the overall mood of a location — through sentiment analysis. These moods are presented as colour-coded heatspots on a 3D map, for example:

  • blue representing people who are bored
  • red for anger
  • yellow for happiness
  • green for excitement
Game changers: Women in innovation — Joyeeta Das Gyana, Phone Map
Map showing sentiment measured via social media on phones

From India to Cisco to CEO — setting up an NGO on the way

Before founding Gyana — which means ‘true knowledge’ in Sanskrit — Joyeeta trained as an engineer in India, worked for Cisco and set up AnahataLife, an NGO think-tank that unites artists and scientists to create empowerment in crisis situations, before completing an MBA at the University of Oxford. It’s been quite the journey to success.

Gyana is initially being made available to government and professional service companies, such as property developers and estate agencies, for whom location-based data is highly valuable.

For example, if a new gym opens in an area, Gyana can analyse social media trends to understand its effects on overall fitness and happiness.

Gyana draws on a huge amount of data, so it’s not just an app.

Joyeeta had to think creatively to build a simple and easy to use search tool, and she drew upon her hardware experience to create a plug-and-play solution that will suit tablets or 50” standalone touchscreens.

Game changers: Women in innovation — Joyeeta Das
Game changers: Women in innovation — Joyeeta Das

Finding emotional intelligence in big data

Gyana product in action
Gyana product in action

Joyeeta got the idea for Gyana while managing the VIEW startup incubator programme at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. She had looked at satellite images of the earth and realised that although she could see different places on the map, there was no emotional attachment to them. She believed that people searching for information on an area wanted to also understand its ‘vibe’:

  • What photos were people posting about the area?
  • Are there places to eat, drink and meet others?
  • Where can they sleep or go for a run?
  • How crowded is it?
  • Is it a happy crowd or a sad crowd?

Making tough decisions was all part of the journey

Working with co-founders Andrew Li and David Kell, who she met at Oxford, Joyeeta set about creating Gyana to answer these questions.

Joyeeta always challenges you with the impossible and that’s great because you learn a lot about yourself. She motivates us with the opportunity to change the world: she’s the one who brought us together, keeps us together, leads us and guides us. Andrew Li, COO and co-founder, Gyana

Joyeeta’s belief in Gyana is unwavering and her enthusiasm for tech is infectious, inspiring those around her to think creatively to solve problems. She and her team worked tirelessly on developing Gyana but they hit a crisis when they lost a potential investor. It was a difficult time and Joyeeta had to make a tough decision: the team needed to work without pay, while Joyeeta searched for new investors.

Fortunately, her tenacity worked and they secured seed funding in January 2015, followed by additional funding of £1.5 million in November 2015.

By January 2016 this hard work paid off with Joyeeta expanding her business to employ 15 staff. Her dedication was rewarded when the final product launched in July 2016.

She works incredibly hard. Every hour for Joyeeta is 6 hours for everyone else because of the intensity at which she works. And her vision is so huge, and she believes in it so resolutely, that I trust in it and it keeps me going every day. David Kell, CTO and co-founder, Gyana

Networking her way from engineer to entrepreneur

Joyeeta’s ‘go-getter‘ attitude has helped her to make connections and forge partnerships that have helped her in setting up Gyana. Although she’s definitely a woman of the tech age, she believes strongly in learning by doing and the power of face-to-face connections.

She says that this networking was the key to securing funding. Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to get out there and find investors who share your vision and spend time meeting and getting to know them.

It also helps to have your own finances, as knocking on doors to find money can take time away from running your business. But Joyeeta cautions against having too much finance:

If you have a safety net you’ll never work hard enough — you’ve got to be hungry and crazy for success. Joyeeta Das, founder and CEO of Gyana

Competition: apply for infocus funding award

As one of Innovate UK’s ‘infocus: women in innovation campaign ambassadors’, Joyeeta Das regularly offers help and mentoring support to aspiring female entrepreneurs.

To inspire others like Joyeeta, Innovate UK is offering up to £200,000 and a package of tailored support to businesswomen who have exciting ideas and the potential to become leaders in innovation and deliver significant economic growth.

Each of the 12 finalists will receive a package of support tailored to their needs, and 4 winners will each receive £50,000 to support their innovation project or activities.

This is the first women-only Innovate UK competition and is part of our ‘infocus’ initiative to encourage diversity in innovation.

The awards are open to any woman in the UK working in business innovation in any of Innovate UK’s 4 sectors. You can register for the infocus funding award up until 12 noon on 24 August 2016.

  • You can follow Joyeeta on Twitter: @Joyeetaaa
  • Follow Joyeeta's company, Gyana on Twitter: @gyaanaa
  • For more information on Gyana, visit their website

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