When the first season of ‘Satyamev Jayate’ was launched, it had the country talking about unspoken issues faced by people around us. Be it casteism, healthcare, Khap Panchayat or the stigma of bearing a girl child, every issue was raised.
Madhu Gupta was one of millions who watched Satyamave Jayate and was shocked to find out how almost no doctor prescribes cheaper generic medicines. The cost of these medicines is close to 40 to 60 per cent of branded medicines. They also have the same compositions and effects as their branded counterparts.
Madhu decided to take responsibility to change things. She started discussing the prospects of starting up to provide generic medicine to people. Madhu teamed up with her husband Pankaj, and both of them started Mera Medicare.com- an e-commerce portal for generic medicines.
Prior to starting Mera Medicare, Madhu was an associate consultant at Oracle India Pvt Ltd for two years, while Pankaj worked with Veeco instruments in various capacities. Both are based out of the US, but the fact that they were away from India did not deter them to startup.
At present, they have close to 5000 registered patients and more than 250 pharmacies in their network. After deliberating and researching various aspects of running an e-commerce business in the pharmaceutical industry, Madhu and Pankaj finally started up in July 2014. For every medicine, customers can buy either branded or generic versions. While branded medicines cost more, generic medicines are cheap in comparison with the same benefits. The company has its presence in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon and Bangalore.
Talking about funds, Pankaj says, "So far, we’ve been bootstrapping to run and expand our business. We believe that personal funds will be sufficient to expand Mera Medicare in at least 10 cities. For expanding more and adding more business segments, we`ll definitely need funds. In the last six months, we’ve received offers from three good investors, but we politely declined them. We plan to re-engage with them at the right time."
The company works as a marketplace connecting buyers and sellers in the healthcare industry. The founders are based out of the US, while the team is set up in India. At present, the team coordinates through Skype. Mera Medicare has four full-time members on board and a team of over forty interns working from different locations. The company works on a subscription model for regular patients and healthcare professionals, while others can purchase medicines online -just like any e-commerce site- with a delivery time of around 2-4 hours.
Talking about their future plans Pankaj says, "Overall, we want to be the Flipkart of healthcare sector. We would like to expand in 25 major cities of India in the next two years. We plan to be operational in six more cities in India, which are tentatively Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Surat, Chennai and Jaipur. "
While e-commerce is on the rise, healthcare commerce still has a long way to go, and the market is ripe for more players. At present, we have companies like HealthKart, Medidart and Medist working on this front, too. But considering the population and the market, we still have a lot of opportunities in this sector.