Amit Agrawal's father suffers from chronic lung disease. The 75-year-old has to be taken for a medical checkup every week in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. But routine visits were turning out to be “mental harassment“ for the 34-year-old techie. In spite of having an appointment, Agrawal would on most occasions have to wait for hours at the clinic with his ailing father as the doctor was rarely punctual.
In that experience lies the genesis of Agrawal's five-month-young online healthcare startup. Ineeddoctor, which connects patients with doctors, was started by Agrawal along with his friends Abhishek Tiwari and Akansh Goyal in January this year in Raipur.
In less than half a year, the venture managed to rope in 55 doctors and 80 health partners, including diagnostic centres; and Agrawal claims they're already in the black.“It's not big money but we are making a profit,“ he says, declining to disclose numbers.
Agrawal and Tiwari worked in Infosys for nine years. Though both were located in dif ferent geographies -Agrawal in the US and Tiwari in Australia -they were in the same training batch and were room mates in Bengaluru and Hy derabad before their foreign stints. Goyal, meanwhile, was in Raipur working for TCS. In 2011, when Agrawal decided to come back to India to take care of his father, Tiwari too made up his mind to shift to his hometown in Raipur and start up. “We met Akansh in Raipur and set up an IT services company in 2011. And early this year we rolled out ineeddoctor,“ says Agrawal.
The reasons for choosing Raipur were obvious: optimisation of costs, a virgin market, an opportunity to stay with the family and a chance to make most of the experience gained through their IT venture in four years.
Ineeddoctor makes money from health partners and affiliates, by charging for premium listings and advertisements on its apps and website and by selling customer relationship management (CRM) software to doctors.
While the going has been smooth so far, the startup is gearing up to negotiate sharp curves on its growth path. Unconducive government policies like no tax benefits, lack of access to funding options and creaking infrastructure are some of the issues to contend with. “One of the investors told me: jab tak Raipur main rahoge, invest nahin karunga [As long as you are in Raipur, I won't invest],“ says Agrawal.
However, he doesn't regret the decision. “I envy startups in top metros who have all the luxuries of the world, especial ly easy access to funding, but I don't regret settling down in Raipur.“
Over the next few months, he plans to open offices in met ros, primarily to be in touch with investors and recruit for the sales team. In Raipur, more and more citizens may be ready to say I need (a) doctor, but Agrawal also realises that he needs an investor.