This woman entrepreneur aims to make medical devices affordable and accessible to all
Neha Mittal lost her father early in her life when she was just three years old. As a single parent, her mother made sure never to compromise on Neha’s education and yet the first of many lessons Neha learnt from her mother was that regarding financial independence.
Now an entrepreneur in the healthtech industry, Neha aims to make medical devices affordable in the India market through her startup. Prior to this, she was an economics and english teacher for eight years, academic writer, and a corporate trainer before donning the entrepreneurial hat in 2015.
“My CV looks complicated to some people but I don't mind that because all this work has shaped me as a person and entrepreneur today,” she tells HerStory.
Operational a little before OneAbove was formally registered in 2018, Neha says the startup’s presence was confined only to nearby areas of Ludhiana, Punjab, where it was headquartered.
When COVID-19 pandemic broke out in early 2020, it dawned on Neha that the startup could play an important role in meeting the demands for COVID-19 essential devices like thermometers and oximeters, among others.
With a renewed focus on affordability, OneAbove Healthcare offers around 12 products, including blood glucose monitoring system, sugar strips, lancing device, digital thermometers, oximeters, blood pressure monitors, nebulisers, among others - all priced between Rs 100 and Rs 1,000.
“During the pandemic, we were supplying to different hospitals and doctors across India but realised that many people were either short of funds or unaware of differences in quality,” Neha tells HerStory.
Operating on a B2B2B model, the startup caters to pharma traders, wholesalers, and dealers, who then supply to pharmacies, chemist shops, and online marketplaces. It now caters to over 300 clients across India, including Oceanic Healthcare in Coimbatore, Nice Pharmaceuticals in Indore, Heal & Cure in Kerala, Kalyan Healthcare in Saharanpur, and Jagat Pharmacy in Chhattisgarh, among others.
The startup manufactures 50 percent of its products at its own manufacturing facility in Punjab, while the remaining half are imported from countries like Taiwan and China.
Navigating the market and challenges
Started with an initial investment of Rs 1 crore, OneAbove Healthcare broke even during the pandemic. It also achieved a monthly growth rate of 8 to 10 percent. The bootstrapped startup is playing in what appears to be a promising medical devices market in India.
In an effort to boost the medical devices sector in India, the government announced incentivisation plans of at least Rs 3,420 crore for manufacturers for a five-year period from May 2020.
While COVID essentials took precedence earlier in the year, its current product range includes household essentials and healthcare commercial products as well.
Moving ahead, the startup will focus on increasing its clientele and partners to reach more customers across towns, villages, and cities of India.
India ranked among the top 20 markets for medical devices valued at $11 billion in 2020, and is expected to reach$ 65 billion by 2024, according to India Brand Equity Foundation. Although a large market, it is dominated by large multinationals like Johnson & Johnson and Siemens. There are also made-in-India brands like Allied Medical Limited, Paramount Surgimed, and Bioline India.
The challenge for OneAbove Healthcare remains beating competitive pricing while maintaining the quality. “Working in this sector, one must also be available round the clock, always maintain stock and inventory,” she adds.
A serial entrepreneur, Neha advises, “Women and working women have managed to shake off age-old patriarchal society norms. One must be self-sufficient and independent with persistent efforts to overcome any hardships.”