“In healthcare, trust is the most important criteria. For regular check-ups or in case of common ailments such as cough and cold etc, proximity is the key and almost 73% of people prefer to go to the nearest doctor. But for major procedures people prefer to go to hospitals and doctors based on recommendation by friends and family or through their own research,” observes Ravi Shankar Mishra, Founder of Medinfi Healthcare. Through a web and mobile app, the startup makes it easier for people to discover and book appointments with doctors and hospitals of their choice.
Idea to execution
Ravi started and registered Medinfi in July 2014, backed with insights from one-and-a-half years of prior market research, and realized the need for trusted ‘content’ based platform for Indian healthcare services. He is a graduate from Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi, and did his post-graduation from XLRI, Jamshedpur. He went on to start his career at Tata Administrative Services (TAS), and was involved in launching three new businesses within the Tata Group as well.
He has a team of 20 and initially found it difficult to convince them and early investors about the need for a pure-play content platform for healthcare. A few months ago, they launched their app on the Google Play Store with verified content on more than 5000 doctors and hospitals in Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai.
The mobile app is targeted at finding the nearest doctors and hospitals for every-day check-ups. Through GPS, the app detects the user’s location and displays the nearest doctors and hospitals. Apart from general physicians, users can locate specialist doctors by searching for affected body part (e.g. heart) or affected patients (e.g. kids, adults). Users can also search for doctors and hospitals by names, doctor profiles and the hospitals where they consult.
The web platform, on the other hand, has been designed keeping in mind the other use case for searching for doctors and hospitals in case of more serious ailments. Ravi found that the form factor of the mobile may not be best suited for entering or reading a lot of text.
After the soft launch, Medinfi focused on marketing through both online and offline channels. While they utilized social media for online promotions, they tied up with local pharmacies for offline promotions. Ravi adds,
Pharmacies typically use recycled brown paper bags to pack medicines and give it to patients. We saw a marketing opportunity there and provided better quality bags with our branding on them, which the pharmacies’ were happy to use.
Medinfi does not earn commission from doctors or hospitals through appointment bookings or other services. Ravi says, “We plan to monetize in multiple ways, one is banner advertisements from allied health care services companies, health and fitness groups, hyper local ads as we know the location of the user, and relevant banner ads. On the enterprise side, we will offer analytics to health insurance and midsized corporates.”
For Medinfi’s content acquisition, Ravi was able to utilize the learnings from his previous role as Head, Retailer Marketing, Junglee.com (Amazon), where he set up and led the teams to acquire verified content for over one lakh retail stores in India.
He has been involved in launching a few other ventures in the past, including Jabong.com, where he joined the pre-launch team and helped in setting up multiple categories. He also lead Jabong’s marketing efforts in growing the business into Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities before he joined Amazon. Regarding the competition, he says,
I don’t look at the booking platforms as competition. In healthcare, trust is the key and anyone having revenue tie ups with service providers like doctors or hospitals may not have the same authority, as their platform could be biased. This is true for every industry. On the global scale, I consider WebMD and Healthgrade as competitors.
The healthcare sector has seen a lot of activity in the recent past. Recently, Ahmedabad-based La Renon Healthcare secured funding of Rs 100 crore from Sequoia Capital, Practo, backed by Sequoia Capital and Matrix Partners, is looking to hire 1000 employees in 2015, and Meena Ganesh and Krishnan Ganesh’s home healthcare company Portea Medical raised funding from Qualcomm last year. Then, there are more recent players in this segment like PlexusMD, a Naukri.com for doctors, Delhi-based HelpMeDoc, which brings doctors, labs and patients under one roof, an end-to-end healthcare solution provider Zywie and Hyderabad-based eKincare which was funded by Bitchemy Ventures and Adroitent.
Medinfi is in active discussion with many early stage funds, and plans to raise a round of funding in the next two to three months. They had earlier raised funds from friends and family and angel investors. They aim to reach out to a million active users and 20 Indian cities by the end of this year and plan to launch on iOS in the next three months.
Their website will also feature discussion forums for different ailments. While their current focus is India, their future roadmap includes ‘Medinfi premium’ where they will cater to high net worth individuals (HNIs) who are looking to opt for the best medical care in the world for different ailments and procedures.