Success comes to those who know their goals clearly, who are persistent in their efforts and are adamant to achieve it! Thomas Alva Edison for instance is said to have successfully made light bulb in 1,000th attempt. He said, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps”.
Stephen Hawking needs no introduction. He was one of the most celebrated scientists of contemporary times. You would’ve also known about his disability – motor neuron disease (MND). Did you know, MND was detected in Stephen Hawking in the year 1963 when he was just 21? Doctors had told him that he would live only two years. But he went on to live more 55 years and died last year in 2018. He accomplished so many research activities and propounded several theories. Why did he achieve so much? He fought against his disability, he simply didn’t give up!
In an era, where the youth gets disappointed quickly rather than fighting with the obstacles and hardships, we find very examples of youth who have toiled literally in every phase of their life and at last achieved monumental success. Time and again, there is need to study and revive about these inspirational heroes. If you think, inspirations are found only at international or national level, that’s incorrect. This is where Vyapaarjagat comes into picture. We try to showcase stories of inspirational individual and businesses from somewhere local, which you can easily connect with.
Today, we bring before you one such story which is awe-inspiring of Mr. Raghavendra Srinivasan and his startup – Sympill.
GOOD EDUCATION AND EASY JOB: THE REALITY CHECK
Mr. Raghavendra was a good student, who believed completing education would land a job easily. But due to recession, he was unable to pursue a job, in the field he had studied and loved. But he was determined that, he will pursue a career only in life-science either core or in services, and joined healthcare and hospital industry.
He grew year on year in both knowledge and position within the hospital industry. His time in Narayana Health and the exposure he received, gave him the insights in understanding healthcare challenges both from a patient perspective and care delivery perspective.
STARTUP: THE IDEA
Mr. Raghavendra says, “I always believed that actions are important than ideas. Seeing innovation happening in food industry and e-commerce industry, I felt that no one is taking up solving challenges in healthcare with the perspective of the patient. Lots of startups are either doing something big like using AI and predictions, or something irrelevant to the patient. There were very few companies that were using technology to solve real-time patient problems. One such problem is in pharmacy sector”.
Mr. Raghavendra had worked in Supply Chain Management (SCM) for hospitals. He says, “I have seen first-hand how patients suffer and what challenges hospitals face in delivering better service. I decided then, that I should be the one to take action rather than waiting for someone who does know healthcare to solve this issue”.
STARTING A STARTUP BUT NO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE
The goal when Mr. Raghavendra quit was quite simple – to solve the problems involving pharmacy, and how that can be resolved using minimum technological solution possible. But he was a from non-tech background. Moreover, he had never even heard of startup or the ecosystem.
“I needed exposure and understanding. So I ventured into health-tech startups and joined them to understand if someone is solving the problem, I am looking to solve,” he says.
According to Mr. Raghavendra, the main problem lies with what current companies are doing and how they are doing it. He spent close to 18 months with startups at various stages, from ideation to operations, to understand and refine his idea, understand the challenges. His key takeaways from this were – “anyone can develop an app or a website; telling customers that you exist, and building a brand from ground up is the most difficult part. Founders need to spend a lot of time to understand the delivery of the solution”.
Mr. Raghavendra says that there was no eureka moment. Working in startups gave him insight that in UX, how a single button can be important in design.
“The amount of time and money spent to create a user experience that forced the customer to use a solution that he didn’t had intention in the first place, astonished me”, Mr. Raghavendra says.
He knew that if he could take those insights and spent 10% of the money and energy on improving patient experience in a hospital, it would have a groundbreaking difference in their lives. That’s how SYMPILL was born!
SYMPILL: THE RESCUER
Sympill is a location based platform that connects patients to pharmacies at the source of prescription. It eliminates waiting time without additional cost to hospitals and patients. It improves patient’s experience in the healthcare value chain. The platform provides meaningful Supply Chain Management Business Intelligence (SCM BI) to the hospitals to improve their inventory management practices and increase pharmacy sales. Sympill helps patients who need medicines instantly during their time of need.
Sympill – mobile app based platform, eliminates waiting time by connecting instantly with the hospital pharmacy. It provides a three step simple process for the patient –
SEARCH – ORDER – PICKUP
to purchase their medicines. Sympill provides actionable BI insights from transactions to hospitals to increase and optimize their inventory practices and sale.
Mr. Raghavendra says, “We target patients by associating with hospitals. Typically our channel would be through hospitals which have 50 beds and above; singular specialty hospitals, medium sized chain hospitals”.
SYMPILL: THE CHALLENGES
We plan to market our product through hospitals. Since there is waiting time for patients in hospitals before seeing a doctor, we would be capitalizing on it and do marketing through direct channels. We would also acquire customers through online and digital marketing channels.
Most challenging part was making an early pivot, to address operational challenges, right in the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) stage. We are launching our second MVP with the changes in the coming months.
“Though 100% prescriptions are coming from hospitals and clinics, only 40% is getting converted to sale in hospitals. Waiting time at the pharmacy for discovery and the whole process, poor inventory management, lack of supporting technology, and lack of discounts, hinder the conversion rate for hospitals”, says Mr. Raghavendra.
MORE ABOUT SYMPILL
From conceptualization to market, the whole process nearly took 9 months. During which, Mr. Raghavendra ran many trials, with around 1000 patients. He tried to understand their pain points even deeper and find a solution that is marketable and made business sense. He also improved the overall experience of the patient.
Sympill is currently working in Bangalore. Target areas are Tier 1, Tier 2 cities in India. Mr. Raghavendra has targets about expansion as under –
Next 2 years – 4 major cities, 4 million patients.
Next 5 years – all over India presence.
“We want to help patients cut down on unnecessary stress coming from poor experience management. And we want to help 2 million patients by the end 2020”, says Mr. Raghavendra.
Sympill has revenue generation through transactional commissions with hospitals. Also, hospitals have to pay for monthly subscriptions for the BI insights.
SYMPILL: COMPETITION vs COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
Sympill has competition from online Pharmacies like Netmeds, Medlife, 1mg, EMR/HIS companies which provides pharmacy POS software. But, Sympill has competitive advantage.
“We coexist with Hospitals, offline pharmacies and online pharmacies, creating a win-win situation; whereas the current startups have taken a competitive approach. Since sale happens in the physical stores, patients can buy cut medicines through our app which is not possible in current online platforms”, says Mr. Raghavendra.
DERBI FOUNDATION: THE INCUBATION CENTRE
Mr. Raghvendra says that, “Directly Derbi foundation has helped me to refine the business idea and interpret the findings of our product research. Being a first time founder, many of Derbi’s class room sessions better led me to understand my strengths and weaknesses. Derbi is also helping in connecting Sympill to the healthcare ecosystem and healthcare experts to guide us. Derbi’s Mentors have helped me in areas like legal documentation, fund raising, perfecting the pitch. Subject matter experts have helped me solve operational problems in the startup”.
THE LONG TERM GOAL
Never heard something like this till now in my life; Mr. Raghvendra wishes that –
“I want all my employees to startup on their own. They should have that entrepreneurial spirit. The ability to problem solve by nature”.
And about himself, he says-
“Next 10 to 25 years, I assume I have solved this problem, and would be working on the next big existing problem, that very few venture to solve”.
ADVICE TO YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS
“Young entrepreneurs who wants to solve problems that they have not faced first hand, or have not observed all stakeholders in the problem, must first spend enough time talking to people who have the problem to find a better solution. Many a time I see, young startups chasing behind a complicated way to solve a problem, rather than taking a simpler approach. Simple answer is always the best answer. ISRO is successful and widely appreciated by the world because, they found simpler solutions to complex problems and didn’t follow any other footsteps”.
“Self motivation is my way. I would give preference to listen to a failed entrepreneur’s story and understand why he failed than success stories. Anyone who provides insights from their failures is my idol” – Mr. Raghavendra (on what is biggest motivator)
“I would consider myself as someone who is trying to reach from zero to one, and I am just at zero now” – Mr. Raghavendra (on whether he is successful)
I think these two quotes sum ups everything. This story has literally put fire in my belly. Am getting up now and short listing a social problem in my region and try to bring a change. That will be my justice to this post!