With PE, VC and Government backers behind it, MediAngels wants to build an online hospital
Dr Debraj Shome and Dr. Arbinder Singal are specialist doctors and good friends. Back in 2009, Shome’s father developed a terminal stage of lung cancer and most doctors didn’t give him more than 6 months. But via his network, Shome was able to get opinions from the best of doctors globally and the medication enabled his father to survive for more than 3 years. This incident made him and Singal think about the problem that exists in the industry and thought of starting a platform that would allow anyone to take second opinions from the best of doctors. Thus was sown the first seed for MediAngels.
Funding of a paper plan
Putting structure to the idea, the duo started talking about the venture in their network. "Nobody thought Amazon would be bigger than Walmart back in the 90's. We realized this potential for healthcare and ventured ahead with e-healthcare," says Shome. about the model. They wanted to bring a hospital online and found the initial backer in HDFC's PE arm. The company raised a seed round of INR 2.5 crores and started building on that paper plan. The founding team's domain expertise and their vision is what brought in this initial investor confidence.
The supply side in terms of the platform was never going to be a problem with the network of the core team. MediAngels has over 300 specialists from 15 countries covering over 93 specialities. The idea is to give access to these high quality doctors to everyone. Shome says, "India needs more doctors, equitably distributed all over the country. Things have not changed much from the time I completed my MBBS. Technology as a mechanism to make doctors more easily accessible and available all over the country is important.”
And MediAngles is more than a second opinion website- they're involved in the complete chain and are capable of letting a user do everything from booking a bloodtest, getting the results home delivered, consulting with the doctor online and then getting the medicines at the doorstep again.
MediAngels is a 15 member team at the moment and started out with promoting the portal via the various digital channels. The reception was there but they soon started running into challenges:
- Educating the user is one of the biggest problem. Similar to early days of eCommerce, MediAngels has challenges with respect to building confidence in a user that the portal is legitimate and they can trust a doctor without actually meeting him or her for real.
- Getting funding was another challenge after the initial positive indication. The company saw some dark days before rising up again.
MediAngels has facilitated 14,000 transaction till date and was also able to raise two follow up rounds to increase their runway and come back rejuvenated. MediAngels is currently working on a complete overhaul of the web portal and is strengthening its technical team.
Most recently, the firm raised INR 6 crores in a round funded by two diverse parties - Ventureast Tenet Fund and the Technology Development Board, Government of India. “The MediAngels investment shows the interest of both private funding institutions and the Government of India, in the broad spectre of healthcare becoming more easily available, accessible and affordable, in India and globally. Doctors & physical hospitals cant reach everywhere, even in the next 100 years, but the internet & technology most certainly will, hence the use of technology in healthcare delivery will increase exponentially, going forwards," says Dr. Shome.
MediAngles doesn't rank very high on traffic (Alexa puts them at an India rank of 60,000) and they also have competition from other players. But Shome is confident about picking up momentum and getting on the growth front quickly. Apart from the B2C angle, MediAngels is also working with health insurance companies and hospitals to offer them services so that operations and surgeries are not carried out when not necessary. The company is at a crucial juncture and we'll have an eye out on their progress.