How MIT ’s mentorship helped craft a 14-year old’s life-saving invention for stampede problem in Kumbha Mela ’15


Meet Nilay Kulkarni, Nashik’s wonder kid: self-taught programmer and student entrepreneur at 17!

“It was the first time a real-time technological solution that we built during Kumbhathon was used to measure crowd flow in Kumbh Mela. Ashioto counted 500 thousand people in 18 hours and impacted crowd routing decisions during the event.”

— Nilay Kulkarni, student, Founder and CTO, Ashioto Analytics

Sparks flew between Prof. Ramesh Raskar, the visionary behind Emerging Worlds, MIT and Sunil Khandbahale (MIT Sloan Fellow) when they met as INK fellows and discussed the possibility of bringing together and co-locating students, local governing bodies, collaborators and investors in dealing with the pop-up city which was about to engulf Nashik in 2015. Kumbhathon, a series of innovation challenges hosted by the MIT Media lab in collaboration with local corporate and governing bodies of Nashik, India was born out of this interaction and provided a platform for Nilay to find his calling as an innovator and entrepreneur.

Nilay Kulkarni, at the age of 14, was spotted for his stellar problem solving skills at a screening for MIT’s buildathon at Purushottam high School. He was being mentored to beat the massive challenges of Kumbha Mela to be held in Nashik in 2015, by way of MIT Emerging World initiative Kumbhathon — a series of 2-year technical hackathons. Little did he know that this would become a life-altering event.

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