This startup feature interview is on Welcome Cure, a disease treatment and health maintenance portal founded by Dr. Jawahar Shah, a renowned Homeopathic Physician and Punit Desai. The inputs for this article were provided by Punit Desai.
A brief history on the startup launch
Welcome Cure had a Beta launch on November 9th 2014, amidst the gracious presence of the former President of India – Smt. Pratibha Patil Ji. In the first one year of our operations, most of our efforts were concentrated in strengthening our infrastructure, creating strong collaborations and tie-ups which was essential to scale the business exponentially. We launched our full-fledged commercial operations a year later, in December 2015.
The company has been founded by Dr. Jawahar Shah, a Homeopathic Physician practicing for over 30 years and Punit Desai. I always help connecting health with technology. Today the core team comprises of our Chief Technical Officer, Alfred D’souza; Rajesh Bhaskaran – our Support & Logistics Head; and our Sales & Customer Service GM – Jasmine D’Silva, and my wife Nidhi Desai and I who are the promoters of the company.
Dr. Shah, a Homeopath by training, was Member of Education Committee of the Central Council of Homeopathy, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India for 8 years. He has also been the Director of Research at the Dr. Subodh Mehta Medical Centre, Mumbai since 1980 and presently, is Director of the Child Guidance Clinic as well. He has cured many patients purely with the classical homeopathic practice. He specializes in Bronchial Asthma, Behavioral and Psychiatric problems of children and management of cancer patients. He has played a major part in the development of the future of Homeopathy in various capacities.
Punit Desai (Co-Founder & CEO): Punit has pursued his Bachelor of Commerce from Mumbai University and his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from one of the most reputed business schools of the southern hemisphere – Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia. Originally hailing from a business family, his business experience and involvement has been very active and instrumental in research & study, market & industry network, micro & macro business execution, fund raising, government liasoning and complete management of enterprises at the start-up, growth phase and established levels. He has business experience, investments and capabilities in solar power, home-shopping, e-commerce, films, media & entertainment, education and information technology sectors. At Welcome Cure, he looks into the financial and operational verticals along with marketing.
What does the company do; what is the product/technology?
Welcome Cure is a unique disease treatment and health maintenance portal born out of the desire to treat individuals holistically, regardless of their location. This vision, combined with the modern principles of Homeopathy and global expertise, makes us a one-stop solution for disease treatment, prevention, and wholesome health. We believe that at the end of the day, a healthy person is a happy person.
As a result of our busy lives, visiting a doctor’s clinic, waiting in the queue to meet him, and then elaborating on our health issues seems improbable most of the times today because of the time-crunch. Moreover, it is generally a long drawn, tedious process. Welcome Cure eliminates these very issues and brings the doctor and patient together just like in a one-on-one meeting. The portal is supported by the world’s largest homeopathic database of cured cases and patient management systems.
The platform is built on .Net Technology (pronounced dot net). It enables patients to consult with doctors seamlessly via various communication touch-points like live chat, video chat, telephone, and email. It helps them store their electronic records in a safe and secure manner for free. The platform also provides patients with interactive tools on their respective dashboards of the portal to manage, track and monitor their health in the most efficient and simple manner.
How much are the products/services priced at? How has the response been so far?
On our website, you will find robust all-inclusive health plans ranging 5 tenures – 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months and 24 months, in four different currencies namely INR, Pounds, Euro, and USD. Our patients take up a particular healthcare plan depending upon the time frame for treatment that we suggest to them. Once the patient takes up a health plan, we get paid completely in advance. In India, we charge patients Rs. 3500 for 3 months, Rs 6000 for 6 months, Rs 8,500 for 9 months, Rs. 10,000 for a year, Rs 16,000 for 24 months.
As far as the response is concerned, it has been nothing short of overwhelming. The last quarter of 2015-2016 has seen equal number of patients visit the portal than the total of the first 3 quarters of the same financial year. In the new financial year, the first month of April has already managed to rope in equal number of patients that it had in the last quarter (Jan’16-Mar’16)
What is your reach in Asia and other parts of the world?
Over 14% of the portal’s patients are from other parts of the world. After USA, the 2nd most popular market for the service is the APAC region with many patients from Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, China, Bangladesh etc.
What is the business/revenue model of the company?
We follow a subscription based revenue model, which is paid by the patients in advance at the time of choosing a particular health plan. Our expert doctors are on a revenue share model with us. As far as our costs are concerned, our main costs comprise of medicines and logistical costs (delivery of medicines to the doorstep), which are only incurred after a patient comes on to health plan.
What other streams of revenue do you foresee? What are the future plans for your company?
You will hear some announcements soon on some exciting and multiple revenue streams the company has been lately working on.
What are your achievements so far?
If I had to list them down:
- On-boarding the best homeopaths from across the globe and being fortunate to have access to 9 prominent advisory board members helping in multiple aspects of the business
- Securing a Pre- Series round of equity funding from one of the largest media conglomerates of the country
- Growing the patient base exponentially month on month
Your thoughts on biotech and healthcare startups in India/Asia, in general?
I personally feel that there is great energy, vibe, scope and potential amongst the start-ups in the health tech space. Some of the ideas and business models are innovative and highly disruptive, resulting in concepts that are bringing ease to the lives of people to a great extent. The way health care is delivered, received and perceived has changed substantially. I’m keenly awaiting a wearable technology start-up very soon which may sound superficial but a reality not too far from now.
To give our own example, Welcome Cure is disruptive, in the sense that we are in the alternative medicine space. The world at large wants to migrate to safe, natural, side-effect and chemical free options. We have been the first mover in this space, within the global organized market.
Your advice for biotech/healthcare startups? How as your startup journey been as a founder?
My suggestion would be to solve a real problem in the simplest of ways. Be focused, persistent and aware of the ground realities. Passion and Commitment will surely make you reach your goal sooner or later.
The journey has been super fun and exciting. The most exciting part has been the learning, as a result of all the road blocks encountered. Most rewarding has been the thrill and skill experienced in moving forward.