Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Hunny Bhagchandani: Future-forward thinking

The founder of Torchit started the company to create innovations that will help elevate the lives of people with disabilities

Divya J Shekhar
Published: Mar 1, 2024 01:12:14 PM IST
Updated: Mar 1, 2024 02:23:06 PM IST

Hunny Bhagchandani: Future-forward thinking Image: Mexy Xavier; Directed By: Kapil Kashyap Outfit: Nm Design Studio; Styled By: Zainab Shakir; Assistant Stylists: Mannat Bhalla, Samridh Gupta

Hunny Bhagchandani | 28
Founder, Torchit

Hunny Bhagchandani started Torchit with a simple idea: To create innovations that will help persons with disabilities. About 150 million people in India suffer from some form of disability, he says, adding that “accessibility is not a special privilege but a basic right”, and it is important to design devices that are within reach for people from all walks of life.  

Seven years ago, the Ahmedabad resident launched his first product Saarthi, a device to help blind or visually impaired people detect obstacles in their way. Other products include Jyoti AI (artificial intelligence) glasses, which features an optical character recognition system that supports multiple languages. A visually impaired person wearing this smart glass, for instance, can hold up a newspaper, and the glass will transcribe the text into audio for them to hear. Or while the person is walking on the street, this glass can also describe events, people or obstacles on the way. Another product is the VOIS smart gloves that enable hearing and speech impaired people to communicate without the need to use sign language.  

Bhagchandani has so far sold his innovations to over 150,000 people. Torchit, which has an investment of $600,000 with a blend of grants and impact venture capital investments, clocked a revenue of $710,000 in FY23. It has partnered with over 300 non-profits, 70 corporates, and organisations like World Bank, MIT and Tata Trusts, apart from working with Gujarat government and the Government of India.

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Bhagchandani has his eyes set on creating opportunities for the business to scale, while also helping other ventures in this space. In June 2022, he launched Enablemart, an online marketplace for assisted mobility solutions. So far, he says, they have over 500 products by close to 100 companies, out of which 30 are young startups. They have also opened offline centres in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi.

Hunny Bhagchandani: Future-forward thinking

Pranav Vempati, who co-founded the startup Makers Hive to develop affordable prosthetic arms for amputees, says Bhagchandani provides assistive mobility products at one-fifth or one-sixth of what they cost in the West. “He has found an interesting business model where he is also tying up with NGOs and working with governments,” he says. “Be it prosthetics or assistive technologies, there is no standardised way to sell them in India, with the required quality assurance. So, while it might take time to go mainstream, the online marketplace that he has built is much needed.”

(This story appears in the 23 February, 2024 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)