After working in the healthcare and business management sector for several years, IIT-Delhi batchmates Prashant Tandon and Sameer Maheshwari got together in 2010 to discuss what would be the beginning of a new era for Indian healthcare. They met over a cup of coffee and drew the blueprint of India’s first comprehensive generic drug search engine—Healthkart.
Having recently launched an application of the website for Android and iPhone users, they are all set to scale a new height in e-commerce for healthcare. Tandon says, “Now consumers can find out all about what medicines to take, their correct dosage and even compare drugs by prices whenever they want.”
A graduate from Stanford Business School, and having previously worked for companies like McKinsey & Co and MapMyIndia, Tandon brought healthcare, operations and start-up expertise to the venture. While Maheshwari, a graduate of Harvard Business School, got financial and technology domain expertise on board from working as informational technology consultant with UBS Investment Bank, Deloitte Consulting and MicroStrategy. Their chemistry is evident and their expertise in the subject makes them a strong contender in the e-healthcare market.
Maheshwari says, “With a thesis that healthcare technology in India was a space that was bound to grow rapidly, we came back with a business model in 2010 focused on creating a network of doctors through a technology platform.” Tandon adds, “During this phase, while working in the Indian health sector we learnt that a huge pain point and real opportunity was in the Direct-to-Consumer space, where there was a huge need and demand for authentic products across the country.”
After quitting their cushioned corporate lives, Tandon and Maheshwari financed the venture on their own. With $8.5 million that has been invested thus far, the two expect the venture to breakeven in the next three years. “Seed capital of $1 million was invested by Sequoia Capital and Kae Capital in April 2011. Additional capital of $7.5 million was invested in December 2011 by Omidyar Network and existing investors—Sequoia Capital and Kae Capital. Having grown at 20 per cent month over month since the launch, we expect strong growth in years to come,” says Maheshwari.
Their journey so far has not been short of its share of challenges. Tandon explains, “In the initial phase, the challenge was to set infrastructure properly, hire good people and convince vendors to work with us. Also, it is very hard initially to commit to long term leases or contracts—so finding scalable solutions was a challenge.” Leaving comfortable corporate lives was a risk, but the excitement of building an organisation from scratch kept them going. “We have worked hard to do a good job at it,” quips Maheshwari.
Sitting together in their swanky Gurgaon office, Tandon and Maheshwari are the picture perfect ‘it’ entrepreneurs.
With the vision to be recognised as a go-to destination for authentic healthcare supplies in India, these Net-Generation entrepreneurs are ready to face all the challenges to contribute to a healthy India.