After 2 failed businesses, how this Lucknow entrepreneur bounced back to start a profitable healthcare services company
A failed restaurant business and a cash-strapped ad business did not dampen Prasoon Pal’s entrepreneurial spirit. Today, he is running healthcare solutions company Taskar Group successfully.
When Lucknow-based Prasoon Pal worked in the hotel industry, he always knew he wanted to start his own restaurant. But the Rs 4.23 lakh crore foodservice industry in India has always been competitive and challenging.
When Prasoon finally quit his job and started his own restaurant in Lucknow, he experienced these challenges for himself. “I struggled to understand the local market and the mindset of my customers. Running into heavy losses, I shut the restaurant,” he says.
But this setback did not dampen Prasoon’s entrepreneurial spirit.
“I learnt a lot of lessons from the failure of the restaurant. A lot of them were about advertising and marketing a brand well,” he explains.
These lessons inspired him to start Ofo World in 2016, an ad company to help MSMEs with offline and online ad solutions.
Ofo World was launched despite Prasoon’s cash crunch. However, the entrepreneur ran into losses once again and had to temporarily suspended Ofo World’s operations.
Once again, he refused to give up and decided to start up in healthcare solutions. In 2017, he started Taskar Group, driven by his desire to tap into the growing healthcare market.
As they say, third time’s a charm! Taskar Group found success in executing turnkey projects for hospitals, medical colleges, diagnostic centres, etc. These are healthcare projects constructed by Taskar and then sold to buyers as a completed product.
Success with turnkey projects catapulted Prasoon into a cash-surplus state where the company was making more than Rs 2 crore a year. At this stage, he could afford to resume the Ofo World Operations. And that’s what he did.
Today, Ofo World is back on track, providing jewellers, beauty parlours, restaurants, clinics, hospitals, retail stores, clothing stores, and other businesses with ad solutions. Prasoon says individuals, as well as organisations, can use the ad platform.
“Ofo World targets all MSMEs in India. Everyone needs advertising and marketing. So we provide space on the Ofo World platform for MSMEs to promote their products,” he says.
It also taps into Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to boost its clients’ engagement. “Further, we also manage client relations, such as handling their data, sending bulk messages, etc,” Prasoon says, adding, “Ofo World is also into ads on newspaper, radio, cinema, and hoardings.”
Earnings from the 22-member Taskar Group are invested in the 45-member Ofo World to keep it running.
This money comes from various Taskar services such as healthcare consulting for hospitals and medical institutes, the supply of surgical and medical equipment, blood bank setup and licensing, outsourcing pharmacies and labs, and more.
Taskar also claims that it has successfully completed over 130 architecture projects for hospitals, medical colleges, etc.
Some of these are hospital projects in Ranchi, Allahabad, Lucknow, and other towns in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Challenges and the road ahead
“Despite this success, Taskar is facing challenges with sourcing quality manpower since it’s a consultancy company. The rest is manageable. To solve the manpower challenge, we directly approach independent healthcare professionals with projects they can do for us before converting them into full-time employees,” Prasoon explains.
But Prasoon’s entrepreneurial journey doesn’t end here. In 2019, he ventured into healthcare education by setting up The Paramedical and Healthcare Council of India (TPHCI). The council is essentially a franchisee paramedical institute offering courses in nursing, pharma, biomedical, Ayurveda, and more.
The entrepreneur feels healthcare is a vast industry. He says he has major competition only when it comes to medical equipment.
“We don’t face much competition in executing turnkey projects, such as architectural and construction tasks. Others may want to imitate us, but it is a challenging industry and it might dissuade them,” he adds.
Prasoon remains satisfied with Taskar’s performance for the moment, but feels there is still a lot more opportunity in the world of medical education.
“I have a mindset of wanting to start more businesses and explore new opportunities. I already have reliable teams who can lead the companies I start,” he says, adding, “This way, I can hand my companies over and continue my entrepreneurial journey.”