From 29th till 31st of August, FTR4H will present selected digital health startups from Asia at the Medical Fair Asia in Singapore. One of it is Medikabazaar from India. We sat down with its CEO Vivek Tiwari for an interview.
PS: Save the date for his talk “How AI & ML help build efficiency in healthcare procurement” at 3:30 pm on August 29th
FTR4H: Vivek, what are you doing at Medikabazaar?
Vivek “Medikabazaar is India’s largest B2B online medical supply platform enabling hospitals and other medical establishments to search and order quality medical equipment and supplies. The medical supply chain in India is highly fragmented at the moment. I myself had experienced this during my earlier assignment of setting up and managing multi-location tertiary care clinics in tier 2 and 3 cities in India. These cities and remote locations in India struggle to get quality and timely medical supplies because conventional distribution networks do not have presence in such places.
It is a well-known fact that medical supplies constitute the second biggest cost in a hospital’s total cost of operations (TCO). Medikabazaar is currently working on a proprietary tool named VIZI that uses AI to help hospitals reduce the total cost of operations thereby contributing to making healthcare more affordable. By using VIZI and online procurement, medical establishments can reduce their TCO by about 25% and therefore contribute to making healthcare more affordable and accessible in developing countries like India.”
FTR4H: You have been an activist for digital health in Asia for a quite a while. What are the latest trends in eHealth in Asia?
Vivek: “The biggest need in Asia is healthcare accessibility and affordability. Patients don’t have access to quality healthcare products, uniform pricing, and services. The doctor-patientratio is also poor. Remote locations lack basic healthcare facilities. Similarly, those who have already set up healthcare facilities in such locations, face challenges in procuring advanced medical technology, products, and their deliveries. Thus, failing to provide service to the patients. Many trends pick this up: The latest consumer trends in eHealth in Asia are virtual consultations electronic health records, telemedicine, online pharmacy, lab tests at home, home health care, fitness apps and wearable devices to monitor lifestyle. Primarily all are consumer centric and focusing on serving the consumer at his doorstep. Healthcare providers are also adopting Internet for enhancing the productivity of their processes and clinical outcome.”
FTR4H: You are a young startup yourself. What have been the biggest hurdles in your journey from a bootstrapped company to India’s largest B2B marketplace for medical devices?
Vivek: “Indian e-commerce space is still in its nascent stage. While the B2C models have gained popularity in recent years, B2B markets still remain fairly untouched. We at Medikabazaar aim to disrupt the B2B space. Adoption of the online platform by business buyers posed many challenges to us. We had to do massive ground activation to explain the concept to the customer. We had to make similar efforts to get manufacturers and sellers on board as the concept was entirely new to them.
Another major challenge was faced when we scaled from one location to setting up operations and fulfillment centers across multiple locations in India. From centralized operations, we moved to decentralized operations. New team members from various backgrounds joined in all these locations. Soon we realized that the uniformity in execution was missing. We had to bring in the standard operating procedures to streamline our business processes and bring in a seamless experience for the customer.”
FTR4H: What challenges do digital healthcare companies face while scaling up in Asia – be it from India to Singapore or from Germany to Asia?
Vivek: “The first and foremost challenges are
a) limited funding and
b) talented team.
With limited funds and resources, a better strategy is to focus on the domestic market. Since technology businesses do not have entry barriers, by the time a startup gears up to make an entry into a new market, many competitors already exist. Therefore, strategy and timing are really critical for the international launch and go-to-market. Another challenge for scaling up internationally lies in finding the right talent who can work with an entrepreneurship zeal to replicate and adapt the same model for the new market.”
FTR4H: What can other entrepreneurs learn from your startup journey?
Vivek: “Planning, hard work,and team spirit are three mantras that every entrepreneur should have. I too followed this. Nothing can work without a detailed plan, sharing the vision with the team and micro-management in the initial years. The reason is that the team and every process is new and both need to undergo a journey to get streamlined. Unless and until an entrepreneur is involved at the ground level, they will not understand execution challenges.
Do not get discouraged by initial feeble customer response. If your concept truly fills a gap in the market, it will work. Team up with people whom you can rely upon. Those who will not be a deadweight but a lifeboat for your company. The most important thing in an organization is creating a positive work environment and sometimes throwing a pizza party goes a long way for the employees.”
FTR4H: What are you looking forward to in Singapore?
Vivek: “Apart from India, we are expanding our operations in neighboring countries, Middle East and Africa. Being the largest hub of Asia, Singapore attracts many visitors and manufacturers in the expo. We plan to network with the manufacturers and international buyers to share our concept and opportunities.”
As part of our FTR4H Conference we will also host an Open Mic Session. Apply till March 8th online here and use your time to shine! You will need a maximum of 10 min to fill out our questionnaire!
We will give up to 10 healthcare startups in attendance at SXSW the chance to present their startups on stage! 1 min elevator pitch, 2-3 min grillling from the audience and some of our speakers! Don’t be shy. Walk-ins welcome!
This session is in collaboration with DataNatives!
For the first time, FTR4H is curating a conference at SXSW. In 2018 we have 23 amazing speakers from 10 countries providing up to 300 minutes of healthcare innovation on stage at the Discovery Stage, Exhibit Hall 2.
Get a sneak-preview of our program! Here some highlights!
10:30 am: Let’s get started! Learn more about our worldwide FTR4H Community.
While SXSW draws many innovators into town for a short period of time, Austin and neighboring Houston are worth a trip for any healthcare expert. They are two of the most important healthcare markets of the US with leading universities, research facilities, corporations as well as private and public hospitals. Over 200 life science companies in the region, and a workforce of nearly 12,300 are focused on the highest growth segments and research areas in the industry, including the specialties of biologics, medical devices, diagnostics, pharmaceutical, contract research, and others. More than 3,700 companies with 93,800 workers make the State of Texas one of the leading biotech states in the country!
We lead the WAY!
In collaboration with SXSW, we decided to offer curated tours for startups, corporate innovators, healthcare specialists as well as researchers to explore business opportunities in Texas. In four days and small groups we will:
Meet up to 10 selected digital health influencers in two of America’ss most relevant healthcare hubs: Houston & Austin
Explore options to participate in the rapid growth of the digital health market in the US.
Scout technology and collaboration partners
Get connected by local experts with influencers such as Hospitals, Government Officials, Research Experts, Startups, Investors, Mentors and Accelerators focussing on Healthcare Tech.
Attend one of the world’s biggest innovation Festivals with 70,000+ attendees – SXSW!
To execute the tour, we partnered with some of the most active innovation and healthcare organisations in Texas such as:
Our tours cost range between USD 3,150 and USD 3,500 and include 1 Ticket to SXSW Interactive worth USD 1,125 (March 9th – March 15th), a curated 3 Day Tour in Houston and Austin with a minimum of meeting with 8 influencers, 4* Hotel Accommodation in Houston and a welcome dinner, pick-up and drop-off at the airport as well as transfer from Houston, and bike rentals in Austin. Accommodation in Austin can be provided upon request. Flights and visa are not included.
Register here or send us an email to Maren.Lesche@startupchallenges.eu!
Showcase your product at our FTR4H Space at SXSW! Our exhibitor packages range from $10,000 to $20,000 and include SXSW Interactive tickets worth $1125, an option to present on our FTR4H stage which will be featured in the official SXSWprogram, logo placement as well as access to our international Digital Health community! Here all opportunities in detail:
Exhibit: 2 kiosks, 4 expo only passes
2 passes SXSW interactive (worth ca. $2250)
Stage content: Short Pitch on Sunday (5 min), featured in the official SXSW program
Logo placement on all materials/media (pre and onsite) and stage on Sunday and on any delegation materials (audience: mind. 25,000)
Up to 4 event passes for FTR4H events at Medical Fair India, Asia, China
Exhibit: 2 kiosks, 6 expo only passes
4 passes SXSW interactive (worth ca. $4500)
Stage content: featured speaker on Sunday (20 min), featured in the official SXSW program
Logo placement on all materials/media and stage on Sunday and on any delegation materials (audience: mind. 50,000)
Sponsor recognition for Meet & Greet at FTR4H stand
Up to 6 event passes for FTR4H events at Medical Fair India, Asia, China
Feature on the Medicine Today on Digital Health Podcast
Exhibit: 3 kiosks, 10 expo only passes
5 passes SXSW interactive (worth ca. $5525)
Stage content: Featured Speaker (30 min/45 min), featured in the official SXSW program
Prominent Logo placement on all materials/media and stage on Sunday and on any delegation materials (audience: mind. 70,000)
Sponsor recognition for hosted dinner during event
Up to 3 curated meetings in Houston and at SXSW
Inclusion in future MEDICA newsletter (approx. 40,000 subscribers)
Up to 10 event passes for FTR4H events at Medical Fair India, Asia, China
Special endorsement on Social Media in FTR4H Channels with eHealth audience (up to 10,000 impressions)
Reach out to our Expo Space Expert Tom Mitchell at email@example.com for your own individual deal!
After the successful launch of our digital health think tank FTR4H (Future For Health) we will be back at SXSW in 2018! As an official partner we will rock our FTR4H Conference Stage, coordinate an FTR4H expo spaceand explore business opportunities in the vibrant healthcare hubs Houston and Austin with special delegationsfor startups, corporates and investors!
SXSW we are coming!
SXSW is fun, SXSW is inspiration and SXSW is THE place to be in March! SXSWeek® spans 10 days and nights from March 9 –18 in 2018. It includes several festivals, e.g. SXSW Interactive, the SXSW Gaming Conference as well as a Music and Film Festival. In 2017, direct participation in SXSWeek totaled approximately 421,900! With more than 100 talks on Healthcare alone, SXSW is also an important source of inspiration for the worldwide healthcare community. However, the sheer size of the event as well as the intense program makes it hard to focus and talk business – something our FTR4H team experienced last year!
Based on our experience from running conferences and trade fairs such as MEDICA in Duesseldorf, we decided to partner up with the amazing crew behind SXSW to highlight Digital Health at SXSW!
FTR4H at SXSW: Expo, Conference and Delegations
There are many ways to join us at SXSW!
Showcase your product at our FTR4H Space at SXSW! Our exhibitor packages are customised and include SXSW Interactive tickets worth $1125, an option to present on our FTR4H stage which will be featured in the official SXSW program, logo placement as well as access to our international Digital Health community!
Tell your Healthcare Story on our FTR4H Discovery Stage on March 11! 75,000 attendees explored the SXSW exhibition in 2017, where our stage will be located.
Explore Business Opportunities during our FTR4H Innovation Tours in Houston and Austin. Meet MedTech experts, investors, researchers and startups.
Interested? Do not procrastinate Get inspired by the creative crowd at SXSW in Austin AND explore business opportunities with us in one of the most important healthcare hubs in the USA!
… or why applying for startup competitions like MEDICA App Competition makes sense….A guest post by our Community Advisor Maren Lesche
Yes, you can plan. Yes, you can overthink. And yes, you can also embrace the opportunities that are served to you unexpectedly.
What made you interested in ehealth, people keep asking me? With a communications background, the highly regulated and very special digital health sector does not seem the first choice. My answer: unexpected opportunities pulled me in!
In 2014, I met the team of VoiceItt at a startup competition powered by Deutsche Telekom. In Krakow, Poland, we talked about crowdfunding, pitching and hurdles that a young company offering a voice-pattern recognition software for people with disability faced when entering new markets. Social entrepreneurship? A high-tech solution for people with impairment? A small team with limited funding working on a very techy product? I was hooked immediately!
What started as a small favor to present VoiceItt in Berlin, lead me to WebSummit in Dublin and Slush in Helsinki. One of my unexpected “tour stops” brought me to Düsseldorf – a very short trip! Little did I know that the “small event” at Düsseldorf will open up the world of healthcare to me: MEDICA is one of the largest and most prestigious healthcare and medtech trade fairs in the world. As a small event inside MEDICA, the Medica App Competition – MAC for short– was reaching out to very specific startups. Due to MEDICA’s close ties to the Israeli startup ecosystem, VoiceItt saw the startup competition and applied. After making the finals, the ball was in my court again: “Could you present us on stage? Nothing major! One day only” – less than 24h of networking, pitching on stage and reconnecting with old friends.
Ten awesome startups pitched two years ago. A hard battle – that VoiceItt won! Our prize: an IPad and a ticket to Mobile World Congress. Barcelona, we are coming! So one pitching event opened the doors to another stage! Selling the iPad provided the necessary travel money. A few weeks before Mobile World Congress, by accident again, I saw another event in Barcelona: A TechCrunch Meetup for startups! Anybody interested in presenting? All in? Right! I guess my communications background came in handy here: writing nice applications is as important as presenting on stage later. So yes, I used my trade to push VoiceItt to success!
I still remember this event! As one of the last startups to pitch, I had to balance on a broken wooden crate: no slides, not timer, just me and my faulty equilibrium. But yet, I could not have been that bad, since winning this small event secured VoiceItt tickets to the prestigious TechCrunch Disrupt in New York City. Again – nothing I had planned, totally unexpected!
Step by step I worked my way deeper into the ehealth startup ecosystem, became a mentor at Startupbootcamp Digital Health, did research on wearables, learned about biotech and performance materials. The following year, I joined the MEDICA App Competition as a juror, soon after that, I became Community Advisor at the newly founded ehealth think tank FTR4H, short for Future4Health, powered by MEDICA. In March 2017, FTR4H officially launched at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Since then, FTR4H has been active in Delhi, India, and Suzhou, China.
Next stop? Düsseldorf! In November 2017, I am captain of the MEDICA App Competition Jury and will get a front-row seat during the pitching event happening on November. This year the contestants can win up to 2000 Euro and tickets to SXSW 2018 – so no detour via Barcelona and New York City for them!
And did I see that coming, when VoiceItt applied at MEDICA? No! But hey, you can plan. You can overthink. But you can never know where unexpected opportunities will lead to!
“Just creating an app does not mean you have a company. The key key question is: are you solving a problem?” These were the opening words of Pradeep K. Jaisingh, Founder of HealthStart India, at the VC Panel at #FTR4H program at MEDICAL FAIR India in New Delhi. Panel was organised by HealthStart. The main aim was to highlight VC perspective on the digital health startups scene in India.
As said by Mr. Jaisingh, the basic background of technology needs to be that it improves the outcome. A solution needs to solve a problem and be sustainable. From the macro perspective, potential for disruptive innovation in India is big, said Mr. Jaisingh. Especially in terms of diagnostics, treatment and management of chronic diseases.
The doctor’s expectations in the near future are high. Artificial intelligence can be utilized to effectively synthesize patient information before his visit in the hospital or a doctor’s office.
What do the doctors need?
Private Equity Professional Mayur Sirdesai, Director at Somerset Indus Capital Partners, warned, the key issue in digital health technology and innovation is probability of adoption. “When a doctor has a line of patients in the waiting room, he can’t be bothered by entering data in the computer,” he mentioned. The second challenge is payment for digital solutions. Revenue model of a startup is crucial to implementation of a solution in practice. In India, most payments are still out of pocket which might change with the development of the insurance market.
From the perspective of Shuchin Bajaj, Founder Director at Cygnus Medicare, a big potential in India is in putting more effort into medical education of other specialists and healthcare providers, apart from doctors. “We are to doctor-centric. I am a big fan of personalized medicine and “ayurveda” in that sense. These sciences look at the patient as an individual while medicine takes the patient as a dataset. Ayurveda does not treat the disease,” he said.
Needs and payments
Partha Dey, Healthcare Leader and SME at IBM India mentioned the need for more collaboration:“It is clear and we agree we need to walk together and collaborate. Technology can work as a platform and our idea is to use it to solve real life problems. We are working on longterm solutions. The first issue is always the business case. What do users need? What are they prepared to pay for? A lot of startups have ideas, but struggle with translation and implementation in practice.”
Vikram Gupta, Founder and Managing Partner at IvyCap Ventures Advisors described India as a unique market because of the payment system. “In the developed world insurance takes care of healthcare. Our environment drives behaviour. Hence healthcare consumption is different compared to the rest of the world. The opportunities here are of different nature than in other countries. One thing to look at is infrastructure. Ratio of hospitals does not match population needs.” Huge opportunities lay in financial assistance for healthcare, concluded Vikram Gupta.
FTR4H is in full preparations for MEDICAL FAIR INDIA 2017. Before arrival, we talked to Incubators, Companies, Start-ups, Experts… Here’s what you might find useful if you’re thinking about doing business in India.
1. Make good market research
India ranked at 130 out of 189 economies in 2015 according to the World bank. 4% of the GDP go to healthcare; around 60% of expenses for healthcare are out of pocket, according to OECD. Almost a third of the population is supposed to own a smartphone by 2019, claims GSMA report. All this goes in favour to digital health or at least mHealth solutions, but keep in mind plenty of good startups on the ground are busy tackling everyday issues.
The country is extensively working on using all the advantages of digital solutions to improve people’s lives and health. Heard of Aadhar? It’s unique-identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data such as eyes and finger prints. Nishal Arvind Singh, Founder NASS & Associates IPR Boutique law firm and Legal policy advisor to Honourable Health Minister Satyendra Jain of the Delhi Government explains the plan behind the project: “All payments will be linked with aadhar, to avoid duplicity, promote increase in online payments and disbursement to beneficiaries under many governmental schemes for education, pension etc. This will enable direct transactions into beneficiaries bank account, which will prevent corruption,” says Arvind, adding that in time, it will be connected with healthcare. The unique identification number of a person will prevent duplication and confusion in data management and insurance claimes with others with the same name.
2. Do you have enough time for business here?
According to a World bank report from 2006, it takes 56 procedures and approximately four years for a simple commercial contract in India. As explained by Prabhu Guptara, a distinguished Professor of Global Business, Management & Public Policy at William Carey University, India, a Member of Boards of different companies in the UK, Germany and Switzerland, the problem is the bureaucratic system. It takes years for the legal claims to be processed, let alone enforced. It is a slow system, so brace yourself with energy and patience to conquer it.
3. Know that India has very good medical doctors
Top class. World renowned. There’s a reason medical tourism flourishes here. However, as Sachin Gaur warns, 80% of people live in rural areas and only 20% of facillites are there. There are different initiatives to improve access, such as the the mohalla (neighbourhood) clinics. As explained by the hindustantimes, they were started with the aim of taking diagnostics and treatment of simple ailments to people’s doorstep and reduce the footfall in tertiary care hospitals.
4. Can you make a subscription plan under a dollar a month?
India has 1.3 billion people, the majority is poor. “2/3 of the population can’t be your target market. 30% of the population lives on less than 2.5 dollars/day, another third 5 dollars/day. Which still leaves you with 400 million people you could address,” says Prabhu Guptara. However, given the number of people, if you can design a subscription model for around 20 cents, than you might address the poorer population, says Sachin Gaur, Director Operation at InnovatioCuris. Taking into account the volume you could reach, it can turn out to be a viable business model.
“If you can design a subscription model for around 20 cents, than you might address the poorer population,” says Sachin Gaur, Director of Operations at InnovatioCuris.
5. Ask, connect to people on the ground
Have you heard of HealthCode.io? It’s a platform for healthcare professionals where you can find people interested in co-creation, consulting, commercialisation, fundraising, mentoring, investing, validation. The app, as the founders claim, already has members from 52 countries, so you might find useful connections even outside India!
Be sure to check the two episodes of Medicine Today on Digital Health! Praphu Guptara speaks about differences in the healthcare systems in India, Switzerland or England. Sachin Gaur talks about the innovative solutions in India and problems of digital solutions and cyber security. You can find it on iTunes or Soundcloud.
There are currently more than 260,000 mHealth apps on the market, according to data from Research2guidance. Whereas this may be exciting news, the sheer number may also be overwhelming for patients and doctors. How can you know what is useful and what is not? One way hospitals are solving the app reliability challenge is by building in-house innovation incubators.
He are 5 reasons why in-house innovation incubators are good news.
1. Accelerating change
Innovation arms in hospitals are exciting because they help introduce novelties into the rigid healthcare systems.
2. Providing reliability
New solutions are designed by high profile specialists in hospitals. Consequently, solutions are tested inside the hospitals and perfected before they are put on the market.
“I would never give or prescribe medicine to any of my patients that has not been approved in some formal capacity. Why should I prescribe an app?” says gastroenterologist Ashish Atreja, MD, MPH. If you’re a startup, he might take a look at your solution. Why?
One of his jobs as the CTO of Sinai AppLab is onboarding new technologies built by startups outside Mount Sinai. After all, he emphasizes, “it’s impossible for one incubator to do and know everything.”
3. Ease of recommendation
It is easier for doctors to recommend in-house solutions, because they have better access and understanding of the innovation process and reliability of an app compared to the flood of other mhealth digital health offerings on the market.
As Ashish Atreja explains, Mount Sinai even build a platform which allows physicians to prescribe evidence based apps. “We curate the best apps based on the evidence, security and safety. There’s a whole team of people rating the best apps, looking at the published evidence and bringing them to the market place.”
4. Financial benefit
Innovation arms generate new revenue streams for hospitals.
5. Encouraging innovation
When a support environment for creativity is in place, doctors who want to innovate can test and develop their ideas. They also get all the entrepreneurial support in scaling and improving their ideas, so they can reach patients faster.
In 2012, Cleveland Clinic experts designed the Medical Innovation Playbook – a detailed report on the diverse and rapidly evolving technology commercialisation programs of the USA’s top medical centres. It includes an overview of nearly 10,000 invention disclosures, 6,400 patent applications and almost 2,000 issued patents.