[Startup Bharat] Dawaa Dost aims to address healthcare problems and reduce expenditure on medicines by 50-80 pc
Amit Choudhary, Yash Harlalka, and Anirudh Batwara closely worked with several NGO’s that were contributing to healthcare services in the country. While working with them, they realised that more than one billion Indians have multiple healthcare challenges.
However, the larger issues faced by people were lack of access to good quality and affordable medicines, lack of awareness around the medicines, and issues related to medicine non-adherence.
Speaking to YourStory, Amit says, “We realised the scale of these issues and how there is no Indian enterprise that is solving these problems all at once. While there are global players that might be addressing these issues individually, we are trying to address these challenges with our digital platform.”
This motivated them to startin 2018. The Jaipur-based startup is an omni-channel pharmacy retail chain for generic medicines. It enables consumers save 50 - 80 percent on high quality and branded medicines.
“We retail all kinds of medicines, generic and otherwise. We have partnerships with all the leading pharma companies. We don’t manufacture medicines, but we are an omni-channel retail chain,” says Amit.
Amit Choudhary, CEO and Co-founder, Dawaa Dost
Building solutions for Bharat
Dawaa Dost aims to change the consumer healthcare journey of Indians through its innovative, deep tech-based, large-scale, and affordable solutions.
The platform aims to solve problems related to accessibility of high-quality medicines, affordability of medicines, awareness about the medicines through its short format video platform - Medwiki, and adherence to medicines through a dedicated mobile application - Karma Dost.
Amit says, “Our promise to customers is that for every prescription within India, we want to save more than 50 percent of the prescription value for the entire life. We have 70,000+ medicines where customers can save more than 50 percent of their medicine bills. We also want to build a lifetime commitment with our customers. So, we are working aggressively towards the customer’s needs.”
Citing examples of how it is bringing down the pricing, Amit says, “On an average, hypertension medicine - Amlodipine - costs Rs 4/ tablet, which is being sold on Dawaa Dost for Re 1 per tablet. This is from a fairly renowned medicine brand that is being sold by us. Similarly, Metformin for type 2 diabetics is being sold at Re 1 on the platform.”
Dawaa Dost, physical store
“We promise to be that virtuous ecosystem where customers can avail quality medicines with a commitment to make savings of up to 80 percent on the entire Rx for life,” states Amit.
Further, Dawaa Dost’s short format video platform Medwiki, launched in October 2021, answers the most basic questions regarding medicines in simple regional language for people.
“Medwiki has over 7 lakh videos in over six Indian languages. With Medwiki, we aim to drive awareness and education around the medicines Indians’ consume at the click of a button. Medwiki is trusted by over 25 million Indians today,” mentions Amit.
The platform also created medicine adherence app Karma Dost in July 2021, which helps patients take their medicine on time as prescribed by the doctor. The app works through conversational AI in the backend, which calls people to remind them to take medicine.
Reaching consumers in Bharat
In addition to close to over 60 stores in 10 cities across India, we have also pioneered a partnership with Kiranas in Tier II, III cities to distribute affordable medicines directly to the customers by building a unique Kirana tech platform.
The startup claims to have the largest number of go-to market touch points in the country. It has close to over 66 physical stores in 10 different cities of India.
“We were also the first to sell medicines at railway stations, metro stations, and bus stands, and we're very proud to take ownership of Bharat,” states Amit.
Users can also go to the app or can visit the Dawaa Dost website and transact. On top of these, it is also building an assisted selling platform.
“I wanted to reach a billion Indians, and the only way to do that is to tap into an existing resource network, which is Kirana stores. There are around 15-18 million kiranas in India, covering every nook and corner of the country. So, we built a tech stack which allows us to sell medicines via kirana stores.”
Currently, the platform has partnered with over 2,500 stores in Tier II, III cities who are already working with them.
“We have partnerships with over 2,500 Kirana stores across the country, for which we follow an affiliate marketing model. At every touch point, we have a QR code to be scanned by the customer, and it helps customers choose from over 70,000+ medicines that we offer, and upload prescriptions, wherever necessary. Post that, we enable doorstep delivery for these orders via our online delivery model/dark stores,” says Amit.
The founding team
Anirudh and Amit met through common friends and knew each other for four years before starting Dawaa Dost.
Anirudh is a tech architect and a SaaS enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in building and shaping products from scratch. A serial entrepreneur, he has previously led small and medium sized teams to achieve success and growth. He also helped with addressing the tech part of Dawaa Dost and came on board as a full time co-founder in 2021, leading the company both as the CTO and CPO.
Yash saw the pain of improper healthcare at a very close level as he lost his parents to simple medical conditions. This drove him to do something in the healthcare sector. As the COO, Yash leads all the execution work on ground at Dawaa Dost.
Amit is a CA by education, and has had a successful career in finance. He worked with companies like P&G, JP Morgan, and Snapdeal before taking the entrepreneurial plunge finally with Dawaa Dost.
With offices across Jaipur, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru, the startup has a team of over 250 employees.
The market and business model
According to the Indian Economic Survey 2021, India’s domestic pharmaceutical market is estimated to be $42 billion in 2021 and likely to reach $65 billion by 2024 and further expand to reach ~$120-130 billion by 2030.
The B2C startup is generating revenue by selling medicines at affordable prices to its customers via Dawaa Dost’s omni channel platform.
“We currently make money by selling medicines at affordable prices. Based on the DRHP filings by India’s largest pharmacy, we make superior margins than everyone else currently in India - both online and offline. We bring more transparency to the customers in terms of the right price,” claims Amit.
“As for Medwiki and KarmaDost, we are currently focused on building the community. The monetisation will follow,” states Amit.
Without disclosing the revenue numbers, the startup claims to be serving 50 million Indians monthly at present, and aims to reach 200 million Indians monthly by the end of December 2022.
The startup is backed by marquee angel investors like Kunal Shah (Cred), Arun Srinivas (Facebook, Ola), Kanika Kalra (McKinsey & Company), Saurabh Garg & Amit Agarwal (No Broker), AN Seshadri (Nalanda Capital), Amit Lodha (Fidelity International), Pankaj Khusrani (Elastic, Google), Ashish Goel (Urban Ladder), SGAN (Thakral Group of companies), Karthik Rajeshwaran (Flipkart), Suresh Mahadevan (Sure Cash), Amrish Rau (Pine Labs), Shankar Narayan (The Carlyle Group, Sanaka), Samardeep Subandh (Bajaj, D Mart), and Govind Rajan (Cue Math, Unilever).
Dawaa Dosts said it recently became the first private company in India to raise funds from Grameen Impact, an “Impact focused NBFC” promoted by Grameen Capital, for the social impact it is creating by contributing to the UN’s SDG-3 targets.
Speaking of competition, Amit says, “We are currently the only player in India offering a full stack solution. While other players might be solving problems with respect to affordability, availability, access, and adherence, individually, we are the only one solving them with under one digital platform i.e., Dawaa Dost.”