How AYUSH finds a place in pharmacy sector with 1mg’s acquisition of Homeobuy

4th Jul 2015
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Gurgaon-based e-pharmacy marketplace 1mg.com has entered the alternate medicine space (AYUSH) with the recent acquisition of Homeobuy.com for an undisclosed amount. Homeobuy is a web platform for homeopathy medicines. With this acquisition, 1mg will re-brand the website from Homeobuy.com to 1mgAyush.com and make homeopathic & ayurvedic medicines available to customers in the National Capital Region (NCR).

“Our platform stands for consumer health. There was a rise in demand for alternate forms of medicines among the consumers, and the company wanted to meet this need through a sophisticated platform. Homeobuy.com was one of the pioneers in this space. It had the largest selection of imported and Indian homeopathic and biochemical medicines. The platform appeared competent in terms of its catalogue and the features offered to its customers,” says Prashant Tandon, Founder, 1mg.com.

Prashant Tandon, Founder, 1mg.com
Prashant Tandon, Founder, 1mg.com

The exponentially growing size of the homeopathy market is piquing the interest of others in this segment. The growth of the homeopathy industry is remarkable in India. According to the Assocham report, the homeopathy industry in the country is worth Rs 3000 crore, and is growing at the annual rate of 30%. By 2017, the industry is expected to cross Rs 5500 crore in market size. According to the report, the country has around 10 crore homeopathy consumers, which is expected to cross 16 crore by 2017.

Explaining his interest in alternate medicine, Prashant says that Indian government is emphasizing on mainstreaming Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) and declared Rs 33,152 crore to promote these forms of treatment. It is quite evident that government’s mission AYUSH has growth potential.

1mg grows in power

Launched in 2013 as Healthkartplus, 1 mg has come a long way. It aims to be the one health app for all consumers in India. Now, the venture boasts of over two and a half million app downloads and over three million monthly visits. It claims to have grown by 600% over the last year in terms of app downloads and user engagement.

“We are the trusted destination for consumers. They come to our platform to find medicines, check for interactions, order diagnostic tests and medicines and also discover good doctors. With our database, we are known for our door-step medicine delivery in Delhi NCR and Bhubaneswar. We have also seen a really overwhelming response to our attempt to solve this problem,” says Prashant.

Building the venture

The venture was launched as a part of the Healthkart family. The seed money was used in setting up the technology and other resources to scale up the business. Now the venture is a separate entity.

Recently, it raised fresh funding of $6 million from the investors. Omidyar Network, Intel Capital, Sequoia Capital, Kae Capital and Deep Kalra, founder of MakeMyTrip.com, participated in the current round along with a few other quality investors.

Prescription medicine a real challenge

There are challenges with the e-pharmacy model, since it is not well understood. The laws date back to many decades back, and often there is confusion regarding interpretation. 1mg is working actively to explain its model and help regulators understand that the model is fully compliant.

Since the venture deals with prescription medicines, it is extremely cautious. It claims to build its partnerships with authentic and licensed diagnostic labs and pharmacies only. “We believe that the challenges have become our strength. We have been able to work in the most appropriate way in industry and have built a fundamentally robust business,” says Prashant.

Being pioneer gives an edge

So far, competition has been very moderate in the sector as not many big players exist in this particular space. There are many players who operate in individual segments; however, there is no comprehensive integrated platform at the moment.

“Consumer health is an unsolved area, and not many companies have been able to crack its problems. There are a few players addressing different parts of the value chain, and we feel it is great for the ecosystem. 1mg, formerly HealthkartPlus, was a new concept in India at the time of its launch; thus, we have been able to capture our market. We hope to see some more such good platforms for consumer benefit and together take this particular industry to a new level,” says Prashant.

Creating brand identity

The venture aims to be known as a trusted health partner to all consumers in India. Its web platform and app both aim to be the medium for easy access to healthcare in the country.

“Working towards creating a comprehensive platform for healthcare, we have launched two new ventures, the Medicine Reminder app (reminds you take medicines on time) and Dr. by 1mg (to help users find the best doctors around them and book appointments). We will constantly work towards innovating our existing products while also eyeing some innovative ideas in this space to help customers manage health effectively,” says Prashant. 

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