"I don’t have a specific story or any pain point that I encountered which I tried to solve, however, to me taking up challenges is the exciting part. We always wanted to build something that helped people make more 'informed' decisions," says Satish K. Cheekala, Co-Founder of Doctors' Circle. It had started as a 'patient engagement platform,' which pivoted into a platform where users can get answers to all their health-related queries in the form of videos from doctors.
While a techie, Satish always had an entrepreneurial drive. He had initially started Doctor's Circle with a college friend in 2012 who moved out due to personal emergencies. After working on the product for a few months, Satish began scouting for someone who believed in his idea to help consumers make more ‘informed’ decisions on all their healthcare needs.
Team building and pivot
In 2013, he met an entrepreneur and a doctor husband–wife duo – Shekhar Gupta and Sreya Gupta. "They were also excited with the idea and believed in the vision and joined Doctors’ Circle as co-founders forming a perfect mix of a doctor, an entrepreneur, and a techie,” adds Satish.
In 2014, Satish's friend from college, Manu joined the team. He now heads marketing and branding. Shekhar’s friend, Irfan, with 12 years of pharma experience also joined hands; he now heads the doctor sales. In 2015, Abhinaw and Hasa came along heading product, creative and production, respectively.
For the next one year, they researched and brainstormed at length of the needs of the market. In the process, they happened to meet several doctors in Bengaluru. This time the team began as a patient engagement platform. In August 2014, the team found their eureka moment in the way of providing health answers in video form.
Workings of Doctors' Circle
Satish says that when an individual hunts for health-related queries online, they get all possible information from different kinds of sources. "In most cases these details are neither informative nor credible. Moreover, they aren't even relevant to the region. Our idea was to address this problem of dearth of credible information," adds Dr Sreya.
Satish adds that they believed that video is the future and answers in the form of a video from doctors are easy to comprehend or understand. He adds that they're authentic compared with text-based answers, where no one is sure of the source. "On our platform,3, you will get video answers from best doctors for free within 48 hours," says Satish.
The platform also prepares a feed and sends daily notifications based on user’s interests. One can browse the entire FAQ catalogue and discover everything about health.
Growth and funding
Satish says their vision is to change the way the world access health information, and healthcare eventually. He adds that they aim to become the number one trusted consumer health brand, touching millions of lives every day.
Doctor's circle had over 10,000 doctors on the platform and have answered over 2000 video queries. Growing at 40 per cent MoM, the team claims to acquire over 500 users everyday. They add that their FAQs segment has had over one million views and approximately two videos are being watched every minute."We’ve 150 paying customers, which includes three hospital chains of Bengaluru. Our revenues are growing 35 per cent MoM," adds Satish.
The team raised a seed round from friends and family in April 2015 and are in advanced level talks with investors to raise a pre-series A round. Doctors' Circle has won and been shortlisted in several startup awards like Weekend Ventures Startup Launchpad, Red Herring Top 100 Global Award, Red Herring Top 100 Asia Award, Red Herring Top 100 Global Award, and Startup Masterclass Shark Tank.
In six to nine months, the team believes they will be the number one consumer health brand in Bengaluru. "We want to be the go to app to find everything about health. We’re everyone’s health companion," adds Satish.
Competition and market space
The estimated healthcare expenditure in India in 2013 was USD 96.3 billion, which constituted almost five per cent of the GDP. With a growth rate of approximately 12 per cent, this number is expected to cross USD 195 billion in the next three years.
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