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Pranjali Awasthi speaking at Miami Tech Week

Teen Tech Prodigy Launches $19 Million AI Start-Up While I’m Still Buried in University Debt

I’m not jealous (I am), but when you hear about a kid founding an AI startup worth USD$12 million (AU$19 million), it’s hard not to feel a twinge of envy. Yet, glancing at my Myspace page, it becomes abundantly clear that a future in the tech realm was never for me. And while 16-year-old Pranjali Awasthi is too young to remember the glory days of Tom’s OG social media platform, she certainly wouldn’t struggle to customise her profile like I did.

In fact, the high school prodigy is on a mission to revolutionise search engines with her artificial intelligence technology. While interning as a data assistant at Florida Internal University during the pandemic, Awasthi found it frustrating to find what she was looking for via search engines. Wondering if there was a solution to the problem, the teen went on to found Delv.AI – which uses machine learning to extract data.

Let me explain in layman’s terms how it works below.

Snapshot of how Delv.AI works | Image: Delv.AI

Essentially, you can pull up a report online and utilise this AI technology to ask questions, receiving instant answers instead of sifting through numerous pages. You can imagine the time saved, the frustration avoided, and the precision of seeking information. With this innovative approach, the days of laboriously searching through documents are long gone. It’s a game-changer in the realm of data analysis and has piqued the interest of big players in the industry.

A year after coming up with her idea, she would meet investors from Backend Capital who were keen to help expand the project. For a small piece in the future company, Awasthi was given the opportunity to attend their 12-week HFO residency program. The beta for Delv.AI was eventually launched on Product Hunt, a platform for people to share software for free and quickly became the number three product of the day.

Pranjali Awasthi
16-year-old Delv.AI founder Pranjali Awasthi | Image: Pranjali Awasthi

Explaining the concept to Insider, Awasthi notes “As more content gets uploaded online, it’s getting harder for people to find the right information, especially when that information is very specific. Delv.AI helps researchers leverage AI to find exactly the information they’re looking for.”

After presenting at an investor-focused demo day in late 2021, she would receive her first investment through On Deck and Village Global. Raising over USD$450,000 in total from a combination of funds and angels, Delv.AI is currently valued at USD$12 million and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

However, Awasthi’s success has forced her to make a tough decision with her studies. After completing her high school education online earlier this year, the prodigy plans to put college in the ‘maybe someday’ category while she focuses on growing her business.

“I have a lot of responsibility on my plate and passion for what I’m building,” she told the publication. “I might consider college down the line to learn business skills like law and psychology, where the in-person format of college could be beneficial.”

As someone who is still paying off university debt, I think she’s made the right decision.