How this AI startup went from being a lawyer services network to an end-to-end healthtech platform
While online doctor consultation isn’t new, and many platforms are already offering it, Chander Verma still found them to be lacking. It was while trying to book a doctor’s appointment online that he decided to found Plunes, a Gurugram-based startup.
Founded in 2018, it is a platform that not only assists users in securing appointments and online consultations but also curates professionals and prices of different procedures, tests, and medicines. Plunes acts as an assistant to the user helping them to auto-schedule appointments.
Plunes claims to have over 2,500 healthcare professionals, 200 clinics, and over 60,000 users since inception.
But Plunes did not always have this strategy in mind. In fact, it began with a model for a completely different problem. As Founder of Phoenix Mail Services, a logistics company, Chander was facing several legal problems, which made him realise there wasn’t any credible platform that provided authentic solutions.
“The platforms that were available would be mere mediators and charge between Rs 5,000 and Rs 50,000 for a half-hour consultation. Appalled at the state of affairs and finding it time-consuming to Google for answers, I decided to devise a solution on my own. Meeting a few lawyers further made me reach a conclusion that the legal delivery services were highly unorganised,” says Chander.
Plunes began as a utility network/aggregator of lawyers and doctors. However, when Chander saw that the pain of getting an appointment was great, the platform from early this year began to focus on the healthcare space.
Plunes now has been positioned as an easy-to-use, AI-driven healthcare platform. The user has to type in the procedure name or specify the tests that they want to avail. Plunes then negotiates with multiple professionals in real time to provide the best price solutions for your procedure.
Along with the provision for automated appointments and payments, reports can be shared using PLOCKR, an intelligent cloud-based EMR solution that comes with unlimited cloud storage.
“We are in the process of revamping our product portfolio. Unlike other platforms, we do not charge professionals for registrations or any other services. However, a small amount is charged upon the successful completion of a transaction. From the date of inception till date, we have achieved a gross merchandise value (GMV) of Rs 36 lakh,” says Chander.
The challenge in the early days included making people aware of the benefits of the platform and helping them gain access to state-of-the-art medical services that matched their budgets.
“Though we did try digital marketing in the early days of inception, we realised that it was not getting us the desired results. It became evident that if we were to grow quickly and gain market share, innovation was the way forward,” says Chander.
Today, Plunes is a team of 20 people.
Online doctor consultation isn’t a new phenomenon, with Sequoia-backed startups Practo and 1Mg, as well as Healthians focusing on the space.
Speaking of their differentiator, Chander says Plunes operates across the spectrum of healthcare delivery services, rather than catering to specific scattered segments. “We not only help in facilitating appointments and consultation through an online format but also curate professionals and prices for medical procedures and diagnostic tests in real time,” he adds.
The PLOCKER platform focuses on facilitating cross-functional integration for electronic medical records (EMRs). Chander adds that they are working on simplifying the process of matching users with curated professionals and get competitive rates for medical procedures and diagnostics.
“A technology-based interface is a key feature of this model and is important for reducing operating costs of clinics by around 40 percent per annum for professionals,” says Chander.
The team recently raised an angel funding of $120,000. The funds raised will be used to gain extensive outreach in the Delhi and NCR market.
Speaking of their future plans, Chander says, “We are currently operational in Gurugram. As part of our early expansion strategy, we will be penetrating the Delhi-NCR region. At a later stage, we plan to make inroads in the top three metros of the country. Eventually, we have plans to expand our footprint to other cities in India as well.”
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)