Tech30 healthtech platform PregBuddy aims to provide round-the-clock personalised care to expectant mothers by connecting them to health experts and doctors
Bringing a child into the world is no mean task. It is a daunting, new experience for the expectant mother and each trimester comes with its own set of challenges, fears and questions. When Sivareena Sarika’s cousin suffered a miscarriage in the fourth month of her pregnancy, she took stock of the lack of information and support that expectant mothers have during this life-changing period. So she got together with Subhadeep Mondal, her buddy from IIT Kharagpur, to create a platform that lets expectant moms connect with and dispel each other’s doubts and also get expert advice on various issues related to pregnancy.
YourStory’s 2018 Tech 30 startup PregBuddy, based in Bengaluru, provides personalised care to women, via health experts and doctors, from the preconception stage to the early years of motherhood. PregBuddy is an enterprise SaaS platform offering an AI-enabled care continuum platform for hospitals and doctors. They have industry and healthcare experts on their advisory board who constantly work with them to enhance their algorithms.
The startup’s goal is to help urban expectant mothers remain connected with their doctors and seek personal care and knowledge that would help them make informed decisions for themselves and their child.
So the duo first started out by creating a WhatsApp group in late 2016 with over 200 expectant mothers who joined within a month and a half. Functioning as a peer-to-peer platform initially, PregBuddy enabled mommies-to-be to share their experiences with each other. The WhatsApp group gave the founders a peek at some typical, and some curious, questions they had.
"We used to read the messages and be surprised by the kind of doubts expectant mothers had. One of them wanted to know if it’s okay to eat biryani or take a flight while expecting," quips Sivareena.
While putting in the hours at their full-time jobs - Subhadeep was Product and Growth Lead at SignEasy, while Sivareena was a process manager at Furlenco--the duo started doing plenty of research, since neither had experienced parenthood first hand.
"After office, we used to go to hospitals at night and talk to expectant mothers waiting for their appointment with gynaecologists, and then connected them on our WhatsApp group. At the end of the five months, the group was clocking over a lakh conversations a month and we understood the needs of expectant mothers today," Subhadeep recalls.
The founders then launched PregBuddy - an Android-based mobile application, early January last year as a peer-to-peer reassurance platform for expectant mothers.
The platform connected users in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi - based on their trimester, location, medical conditions, language and pregnancy conditions.
While the platform helped these moms-to-be seek support from each other, they also shared their medical reports. The founders eventually figured out that beyond emotional support, expectant mothers also sought medical assistance and that was when they decided to make doctors and caregivers available on PregBuddy as well. The founders then pivoted from a peer-to-peer platform to a B2B product bringing users, caregivers and hospital management onto one platform with a smart algorithm.
But how does it operate? PregBuddy partners with hospitals. Doctors and hospital management recommend moms-to-be to sign up with PregBuddy. When they start using the platform to track their data points and consume content, the data gets instantly synced with doctors and hospitals. So it also stores all the patient data in one place. It is free for the users, who get personalised care plans for nine months. PregBuddy uses artificial intelligence (AI) to notify the doctor about alarming symptoms if any. Their algorithm is fed by constant data points that inform doctors about moms who require immediate help. The company keeps a mine of previously acquired data.
Pregbuddy, thus, allows doctors to be accessible to their patients round the clock and the platform also makes the patient pipeline accessible to the doctors, all the while ensuring privacy.
“PregBuddy has helped me throughout my pregnancy by connecting me with other moms and to stay connected with my own doctor. I could ask all my doubts and stay tension-free,” says a mother who used PregBuddy during her pregnancy.
PregBuddy has a core tea of five. Their mentor pool includes Jayant Kadambi, ex-Chairman and founder of YuMe and Dr Nitiraj Gandhi, HIMSS board member and ex-Columbia Asia.
It’s all about the numbers, baby
PregBuddy was bootstrapped with Rs 10 lakh, and the startup claims to not have spent more than Rs 35,000 on its marketing efforts.
"PregBuddy has grown with word of mouth," says Subhadeep. The founders refused to share the licensing fees but they charge hospitals on a per-user basis, this being their revenue model.
The founders claim that they have 75,000 expectant mothers using the platform, including both individual and hospital patients. Every day, at least 100 mothers deliver their babies after using PregBuddy, across India, they add.
The company raised an undisclosed amount in seed round funding from Indian Angel Network this April. Ranjan Anandan, IAN member and MD at Google India, Madhusudhan Kannan, Chief Business Officer at Uber India and Emerging Markets, Jayant Kadambi and Puneet Gupta, COO (News Business) of Times Internet Ltd., also participated in the round.
Nurturing an important segment
According to the founder, Subhodeep, in India alone, over 33 million women get pregnant every year, of which eight million pregnancies end in miscarriage. Care, therefore, during the whole term is crucial.
Care delivery process in India has seen drastic transformation with the doctor-patient experience held paramount in decision making at present. Care experience plays a vital role in bringing the stakeholders -- pregnant women, doctors and the hospitals together and millions of dollars are spent on quality, experience and accessible service by hospitals.
With its smart platform, PregBuddy aims to transform the care delivery process for maternal healthcare in India.
PregBuddy’s B2B platform is presently operational in Bengaluru and Hyderabad, and the startup has so far tied up with three notable hospital chains in the country.
The company is now looking for partners who would help them expand to Tier-I and II cities. Presently available in Hindi and English only, the founders plan to make the platform available in more vernacular languages as well. They also plan to improve upon their technology.