I met two healthcare startup founders at Surge 2016 Bengaluru India. The event was organized by the Irish web summit team led by Paddy Cosgrave. Over 5000 people from seventy countries attended this two day event held on February 23rd and 24th.
Dr Antriksh Patel a homeopathic doctor has started a venture – Arkai Healthcare (www.arkaihealthcare.com).
Dr Maulik Darji, another Gujarati MBBS doctor has conceptualized another healthcare service providing platform. He has named his company after the Hindu event Kumbh (Healthkumbh).
Kumbh is a river bathing festival held every twelve years on the banks of the River- Ganges in the Northern Indian town – Hardwar. To the festival descend tens of millions of Hindus. They come with faith in their hearts and belief that a dip in the waters of the Holy River will wash their sins away.
There were other startups focusing on the healthcare sector that attended the event. However I could find time to interview two – Arkai Healthcare and Healthkumbh.
Arkai Health Care is using a web application to service healthcare need of users of Gujarat State. The service is proposed to be extended to other regions too within India and internationally.
The app is available for download on both android and ios platforms. Patel’s initial intention was to build an app that can provide help to people in a health emergency. Simply put Arkai Health Care could be described as an online health emergency 911 platform.
At the backend is a network of hospitals, clinics, ambulance providers, doctors and paramedics that respond to a notified emergency.
An emergency event notified on the platform automatically triggers the nearest health facility. This heads up gives the facility lead time to prepare. By default, information gets relayed to a facility nearest to the location of the emergency event.
However a user can pre register his preference for a hospital or facility of choice. The notification then gets diverted to that specified location.
Users need to pre register on the platform to avail the service. Registration is free for both users and service providers. Patel showed me the backend of the system. A user, to register, fills in personal information that becomes available to the emergency service provider electronically when notified.
3055 hospitals and 40 clinics have registered themselves on the platform. Nearly all of these are located in Baroda city, Gujarat state, India. The venture is based out of this city. The platform though is geography agnostic.
Users can prepay and book health checks, procedures and other health related services on the platform too. Patel explained that this facility will be tested on Canada based Gujarati expatriates with kin living in India. He has a sister living in that country who is engaged in promoting the concept locally.
The service package includes arrangements for patient transport. Patel has tied up for the purpose with taxi aggregator Uber and ambulance providers. People carrying health insurance can also be serviced on the platform.
The health facility pays a commission to Arkai healthcare against a service provided to a user. Patel’s venture is thus far self-funded. Patel was scouting around for collaboration and investors during the Surge 2016 event. Patel exuded confidence and energy and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is able to secure funding soon.
It is not just patients who seek good doctors; doctors too seek more patients. Doctors like other professionals want to enhance their brand and reputation for quality. Healthkumbh is a platform for doctors. They register voluntarily on the platform, post case studies and give health tips. This gives them visibility before prospective patients and prestige among their peers.
Healthkumbh platform has attracted interest from local doctors from within the state of Gujarat where the venture is based. These include cardiologists, dentists, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, orthopedics, diabetologists, obstetricians, ophthalmologists. Maulik claims that the platform has already uploaded 2000 papers submitted by doctors.
Hospital chains having a local presence are also showing interest in Healthkumbh. Columbia Asia a multi specialty hospital with branches across India and multiple East Asian countries have signed onto the platform. The program looks to have received local intellectual thumbs up.
The registration service is free for doctors. Healthkumbh revenue model too is based on commission against business secured. The commission will come from the registered doctor receiving business through the platform.
Platform building and sales cost has been largely self-funded by the Founder. A local High Network Individual enthused by the venture has pitched in with some funds.
Both Arkai Health Care and Healthkumbh platforms are built on open source technology and are examples of frugal engineering. Revenue inflows are yet to come in. Unlike Silicon Valley were funders pitch in at the concept stage, Asian fund houses like to wait and assure themselves on the ability of the Founders to generate revenues.
While both the ventures do address a market need, execution, ability to generate revenues and scale up will be some of the challenges that these startups will have to overcome to woo investors. Market depth of the concepts will also need to be demonstrated.
Collaborating with institutions to access technical, business and quality management skills may require to be brought in to build scalable models. The market in India for healthcare services is substantial. Once execution capability by Arkai Health Care and Healthkumbh has been demonstrated, investors should step in.