Portea Medical’s Meena Ganesh on building a healthtech startup in India

In this week’s 100X Entrepreneur Podcast, Meena Ganesh, Chairperson and Co-founder, Portea Medical, decodes what it takes to create a homegrown healthtech startup in India.
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Bengaluru-based healthtech startup Portea Medical, founded in 2013, employs over 4,000 people, doing more than 1.5 lakh home visits every month in 40+ Indian cities.  

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Portea helped about five lakh patients in Delhi, Mumbai, Faridabad, Gurugram, Chennai, Bengaluru, and all of Karnataka.   

In this week’s 100X Entrepreneur Podcast, Meena Ganesh, Chairperson and Co-founder, Portea Medical, decodes her entrepreneurial journey.

At the beginning of the millennium, Meena co-founded her first company Customer Asset but later sold it to ICICI Bank.

She also launched TutorVista, which got acquired by British publishing giant Pearson. Meena served as the CEO and Managing Director of Pearson India before she founded Portea Medical.

One of Fortune India’s ‘50 Most Powerful Women in Indian Business’ from 2015 to 2021, Meena says the healthcare sector piqued her interest.

“I looked at the healthcare space and examined the gaps. While facility-based care sees a lot of investment, and perhaps to some degree in the diagnostic space, the out-of-hospital healthcare does not receive much investment,” Meena says.

According to various studies, nearly 70% of patients’ healthcare needs are fulfilled outside of hospitals.

Moreover, while people had access to excellent hospital facilities for treatment, they faced a real challenge as they searched for home healthcare providers for managing daily post-operative care. 

Testing waters

Initially, Meena focused on putting together a proof of concept, trying out various models of both acquiring patients and manpower. 

“One thing was very clear from day one—this was going to be a large scalable business, something the country would need. And, there’s an opportunity to potentially create a pan-India brand,” she recalls.

Portea Medical’s team quickly realised that technology will be an important contributor and the foundation to building the business. 

At the end of 2013, the startup raised a Series A funding round to kickstart the business. “We started with one or two services in one location. We slowly understood the customers’ needs. Healthcare requires you to find ways to cooperate with the rest of the ecosystem. You cannot do it in isolation,” Meena shares.

Eventually, the Bengaluru-based startup understood the needs of hospitals and doctors, working in cooperation with them rather than becoming a competition.

Besides directly acquiring patients via digital marketing, Portea also tied up with some hospitals and doctors. The startup wanted to extend home care and treatment for patients. It also explored physiotherapy and doctors’ on-call services.

Fast forward to 2022, Portea is a full-service healthtech provider that offers primary care for chronic disease management, elder care, and post-operative care. Besides these services, it also provides medical equipment as needed by the patients. 

To know more, listen to the podcast here.

Notes:

02:04: What got Meena into entrepreneurship?

08:02: Brainstorming ideas while conceptualising Portea

12:46: Milestones—from raising Series A round to date

17:53: Meena’s thoughts on – “It’s difficult to create money from healthcare and healthtech startups”

22:37: How has the pricing model evolved at Portea?

24:06: Learnings from building in healthcare in India

27:14: How has she grown as a founder?

30:04: Meena’s fundraising journey at Portea

30:33: Balancing investor-founder relations during a startup’s journey

32:07: Managing her time between GrowthStory, Portea, and home.

Edited by Suman Singh

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