Online pharmacy startup Medlife co-founder, Tushar Kumar opines, “Over a time frame, I realised that the healthcare gadget in India is extraordinarily chaotic. People don’t understand where to visit find the proper specialist, find all of their prescribed drug treatments or even find a suitable laboratory for his or her assessments. Sometimes, they must journey to distinctive locations to avail those services. I agree with that if someone is sick and is already aggravating with the disorder itself, there ought to be no need for them to stress any similarly in getting remedy.”
For Tushar, the cause to create Medlife in which human beings ought to benefit get entry to to a couple of healthcare offerings got here from a private experience in which he had to walk up to 40 miles from his home to purchase medicines for his mother and father.
After realising the potential of technology intervention within the healthcare domain and the experience he won whilst dwelling overseas, Tushar who comes from a family of pharma marketers and became in brief concerned within the family-run Alkem Laboratories, teamed up with Prashant Singh to release Medlife in November 2014. The startup embarked on the adventure with an preliminary funding of $15 Mn, later acquired a investment of $30 Mn from family capital and promoters.
The concept changed into easy: meeting the inadequacies inside the healthcare delivery machine thru technological interventions. The epharmacy startup pursuits at presenting a platform which would enable a patron to gain access to healthcare offerings at all levels, starting from having all their hospital visits and prescriptions recorded and stored to buy drug treatments on-line and getting them added to their doorstep to e-session with docs and scheduling diagnostic tests, thereby making it a one-prevent platform for healthcare needs.
After being operational for almost 4 years, the startup is now processing over eight,000 deliveries a day (inclusive of private-label merchandise) that amount to $four.6 Mn (INR 30 Cr) a month and expects 15-20% enterprise growth month-on-month. The organisation in addition plans to shut the cutting-edge monetary year with a sales of $64.7 Mn (INR 425 Cr) and is targeting $138 Mn (INR 900 Cr) by using the quit of 2018-19.
Medlife: The What, The Why And The How
Medlife started out inside the e-pharmacy space following an stock-led version and supporting doctors digitally manage and store affected person statistics. However, it step by step diverse to on-line health practitioner consultations, wellness merchandise and laboratory services.
The startup now has a unmarried purchaser-dealing with mobile app to get entry to its primary offerings: it gives doctors the capacity to create and save patient statistics on line via the app.
However, with time, it diversified to provide:
Online health practitioner consultations
Today, Medlife has a customer base of over 500K in India. The hastily converting consumer behaviour toward Internet services in India is contributing to the boost that healthtech startups within the healthcare device and specially e-pharmacy based startups like Medlife are experiencing.
Why? Read this.
The worldwide e-pharmacy marketplace, led by North America and Europe, was about $29.3 Bn in 2014 and has been predicted to develop at a CAGR of 17.7% to reach a valuation of $128 Bn by means of 2023. This is a treasure trove that healthtech startups in India can capitalise on.
Secondly, in keeping with a file posted through FICCI, e-pharmacy structures are predicted to account for five-15% of the total pharma sales in India, which might be largely performed by means of enhancing adherence and get entry to to the drugs for a large section of the underserved population. Moreover, the document additionally states that the healthcare enterprise in India is at an inflection point proper now and is poised to grow as much as $280 Bn by using 2020, that's 10 instances the growth considering 2005.
In recognition of the growth potentialities and the challenges that mar the healthcare enterprise in India, what Medlife is doing is to hold affordability, spread focus and make health offerings available.
Recently, the startup also released its accepted pills in step with the Government of India’s efforts to encourage the use of low-cost ordinary pills, instead of steeply-priced brand-named options.
What gives Medlife the brink for this cash-run? It’s range of deliveries.
While Medlife is largely a web pharmacy turning in healthcare solution which includes drugs shipping and diagnostic services, it additionally affords a complete health package deal by means of integrating various other aspects of healthcare onto its platform thereby presenting an entire healthcare ecosystem to the client for well timed diagnosis and powerful remedy.
The app is easy to use and clients don’t need to move out of doors the platform for medical help unlike diverse different merchandise available inside the marketplace. At the moment, Medlife has over 1,2 hundred medical doctor clinics on the platform operating for the ecommerce healthcare business within the fitness sector.
Tusher elaborates, “As we wanted to construct a coins producing platform first, we forayed into the e-pharmacy space to get the ball rolling. The e-pharmacy brings in maximum of our sales proper now. We very own our stock after which promote the same to the customers who order from our e-pharmacy. Presently, we have our registered pharmacies in 20+ towns. In addition, we also generate revenue thru pattern collections within the diagnostics area.”
Along with Medlife, other e-pharmacy startups also are reaching out to the exponential growth. India has around masses of e-pharm startups in India which consist of the likes of 1mg, PharmEasy, Myra, Practo, and many others.
With regards to the Indian healthtech marketplace, NASSCOM has some exciting findings:
The possibility: The Indian healthcare IT marketplace is well worth $1 Bn (2014) and is pegged to grow at 1.5X via 2020. Healthcare software market comprises of handiest 9% of the entire healthcare IT marketplace inside the country.
Startup Hub: Over 60% of healthtech-focussed startups integrated considering the fact that 2010.
Key Segments: Mobile apps, healthcare systems and well being analytics have gained maximum interests from the buyers.
And in terms of investment, as per Inc42 DataLabs, the healthtech area had witnessed over 111 offers in 2017, making it the second one most funded section of 2017. Not simply in terms of the range of deals, healthtech startups raised over $333 Mn in investment in 2017, that is 3 instances the amount they raised in 2016.
In mild of the increase curve in the region, no longer simplest is there a large competition among epharmacy startups, however additionally digital pharmacies are posing a grave risk to the non-digital ones.
Online pharmacies are not handiest catering to a larger consumer base due to the era leverage that offers less complicated get entry to to the offerings but they're additionally rolling out reductions and coupons to draw and develop the patron base.
Online Pharmacy Trampling Challenges
Just like any other tech startup, Medlife first of all confronted the hassle of encouraging customers to undertake its platform. “The customers were skeptical and weren’t very forthcoming. But over time, due to our offerings and dedication, customers began trusting the company and the brand. Now we've customers of 60 or 80 years of age, who've come to love Medlife.”
Another assignment was to win the primary few customers, mainly doctors, due to the fact there has been skepticism approximately the safety of patient information and using technical gadgets in preferred.
The company had also faced challenges with putting in the delivery of drug treatments within the prison framework however ultimately completed compliance with all legal guidelines and policies.
“Additionally we saw that a positive section of the target audience changed into no longer comfy putting orders on line. To resolve this, we launched name-to-order for them to simplify their revel in with us,” Tushar speaks retrospectively.
But authorities tasks also are attempting to mitigate the triumphing challenges.
Last year, due to the boom in e-pharmacy, the government issued a draft of the Drugs (Sale and Distribution) Rules 2017, aiming at getting rid of ambiguity on regulations to facilitate income of medicine on-line.
According to the draft rules, which got here out in March this yr, no person can function an e-pharmacy with out registering with the Central Licensing Authority and the supply of medicine through an e-pharmacy may be regulated.
Walking The Last Mile
Going ahead, Medlife has plans to release approximately 30 standard tablets and forty OTC products via the subsequent economic year. With a planned internal investment of $30 Mn to scale up operations, the agency expects to earn a sales of $138 Mn-$153 Mn (INR 900 Cr-1,000 Cr) by means of the financial yr 2019.
Medlife will manufacture typical merchandise via Alkem Laboratories and Tulip Lab, and goals to open its first store in Mumbai. Eventually, the company will both eye wholesale drug providers within the south or goal cities like Chennai, Bengaluru, New Delhi and Kolkata.
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“We may also be launching our first ever diagnostic lab in Bengaluru to attain out to the loads in Tier I/II cities in India, with the direct and clear-cut approach of offering without problems handy splendid diagnostics offerings at less costly costs,” Tushar confirms.
The boom proven by means of Medlife and such online pharmacy startups is a clean testimony to India’s indulgence in digitised services.
Accenture evaluation found out that digitisation will be fueling nearly one-0.33 of the growth and an predicted 40% of the profitability inside the pharmaceutical market by 2020. For agencies which are in part digitised, their fashions can drive progressed profitability through as a lot as 27%.
The Indian pharmaceutical enterprise is at an interesting juncture today. Digitising pharmacy and other healthcare services is boosting the healthcare enterprise because of the broader reach of era in distinctive geographical locations in India.
Companies have started exploring and deploying cloud-based totally platforms, mobile applications and superior information analytics equipment to build leaner and greater digitised healthcare enterprises. It can be said with conviction that this market is set to develop further as India’s on-line presence will increase. With over 460 Mn Internet users, India is the second largest on line marketplace, ranked handiest at the back of China. By 2021, there may be approximately 635.8 Mn Internet users in India.
With this type of promising future for digitised healthcare in India and internationally, on line pharmacy startups like Medlife will attempt to capitalise on the opportunities that the digitised enterprise holds. Considering the encouragement that e-pharmacy is receiving, startups may have a lot to gain from this wave.