Losing her father and all her family’s money pushed this woman to fix the broken medical system

Bengaluru-based startup Clinikk has raised a million dollars and provides an offering that brings together primary healthcare and financial risk protection.

Bhavjot Kaur grew up in a small town in Assam called Nagaon where she could see up close the fractured medical system. “When my dad was diagnosed with diabetes he did not have access to the right care for proactive intervention and as a result he developed renal failure. The doctors there initially could not even diagnose it; they thought it was a brain haemorrhage. We had to run from pillar to post,” remembers Bhavjot.

The family flew down to Chennai as Bhavjot’s father needed a renal transplant. Unfortunately, the transplant could not happen in time and she lost her father. In the eight months they spent in Chennai, the family lost all their savings and had to sell off their ancestral gold as they did not have medical insurance.

The pain of losing her father stayed on with Bhavjot even as she graduated from IIT Roorkee and went on to work for Shell as a geoscientist. Although she had a “great job”, travelling the world, she kept thinking about what she could do in the area of healthcare, so that others did not have to undergo the pain and grief her family experienced.

“Had my dad got proper primary healthcare, we would have still had him with us and we wouldn't have had to go through financial devastation. That prompted me to think about what I could do in healthcare. I quit my job in 2016 to start Clinikk as a home healthcare company,” says Bhavjot.

Clinikk Co-founder Bhavjot Kaur

Of failure and the second coming

The first version of the Bengaluru startup failed to take off, with Bhavjot and her co-founder, Dr Suraj Baliga, losing the Rs 45 lakh they had invested. 

Clinikk had initially set out to create a platform where doctors could manage postoperative care seamlessly, ensuring nothing fell through the cracks between the surgery and the next follow-up visit to the doctor. “We realised other home healthcare startups like Bengaluru-based Portea were doing a much better job and we also realised the real need lay elsewhere. Thus, we decided to pivot in 2018,” says Suraj, who is an orthopedic surgeon.

With the pivot, the duo decided to address two main pain points - primary healthcare and financial risk protection- marrying the two as part of their new offering. They raised Rs 60 lakh from friends and family for Clinikk’s second coming. Within a year they raised $1 million from external investors such as Times Internet, WEH Ventures, Rajan Anandan and Ajay Prabhu of Quest Global.

Suraj explains the target group for the new model: “The solution we have built is trying to address the unmet need of the masses, especially in the middle of the pyramid. People who are mostly self-employed, like Ola drivers, delivery partners for Dunzo, riders for Shadowfax, and kirana shop owners. All the healthcare products that are out in the market are catering to the top of the pyramid.”

So, what exactly does Clinikk do?

Clinikk is a business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) platform with partners such as Uber, Ola, Dunzo, Swiggy, Shadowfax, and Betterplace. It works on a subscription model where subscribers pay a monthly fee starting from Rs 50 going up to Rs 500 for their primary healthcare needs and medical insurance. Up to six members in a family are covered under the subscription and they can get in touch with a doctor for primary healthcare needs at any given point in time. In case hospitalisation is required, the subscriber is directed to the nearest network hospital.

The tele-consultations are available in 11 languages and 24/7 via the platform’s app, website, and phone. The platform also provides e-health profile, insurance claim support, and discounted medicine delivery and lab testing.

The Bengaluru startup provides cashless hospitalisation benefits in more than 5,500 empanelled hospitals across the country covering more than 16,000 pincodes. “On the insurance front we are working with marquee names in the industry such as Religare, Aditya Birla, and Magma,” adds Suraj.

Clinikk currently has 2.5 lakh active subscribers on its platform and it has already broken even at a unit level, which means that it makes more in revenue than what the subscriptions cost the company. On when the company hopes to break even, Bhavjot says, “At a company level, currently our focus remains on product building and growth. We don’t want to obsess about breaking even right now.”  

As far as competition is concerned, the duo says that there is no other platform that is offering a platform that brings together primary healthcare with financial risk protection.

The primary healthcare market in India is worth $40 billion and what is alarming is the fact that more than 57 percent doctors in India practising allopathic medicine are quacks (according to a WHO report), meaning they do not have any medical qualifications. There is clearly a big opportunity to tap into and a massive problem to solve for Clinikk.

The dynamic duo

Bhavjot and Suraj had met in Bengaluru in 2014 during the general election campaign. She was managing a candidate from Bengaluru South, while Suraj was working for a candidate from Bengaluru Central. While discussing policy and various issues, the two connected over their shared interest in healthcare and the idea of Clinikk was born.

Clinikk co-founders Bhavjot Kaur and Dr Suraj Baliga met in 2014 during the general election campaign.

While Bhavjot’s previous stint was that of a geoscientist, Suraj worked as an orthopedic surgeon.

Speaking of the motivation behind the shift, Suraj says, “As a doctor I was touching maybe 30-40 families a day; today, with our platform, we are touching 2.5 lakh people. By 2020, we plan to touch one million lives.”

The duo declines sharing topline and bottomline figures but say that they have been witnessing “healthy growth” in revenues. 

Clinikk currently has 35 full-time employees and also works with contractors. It has a full-fledged medical team that includes senior doctors, along with teams for technology, design, product, sales, marketing, and operations.

(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)


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