Practo, the Bengaluru headquartered online healthcare platform, has seen very rapid growth over the last eight years with presence in 35 Indian cities. It has even forayed overseas into countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines. Backed by marquee investors such as Sequoia, Matrix Partners and Tencent and having raised around $120 million, Practo aims to expand into 100 cities in India and grow as a global digital healthcare company, says Shashank N D, founder and CEO, in an interview with P P Thimmaya. Excerpts:
How has been the journey of Practo in the last eight years?
We are both a disrupter and enabler. The whole way we are disrupting is by aggregating multiple use cases for a consumer in the whole healthcare chain – which starts essentially from search and goes all the way to eventual treatments. We have partnered with enterprises, hospitals, doctors, clinics, diagnostic centres, fitness centres, pharmacies and consumers. This aggregation can bring a 10x leap. We provide the software, hardware, marketing solutions to hospitals. We are making it easier for hospitals to adopt technology. For consumers it is easy as everything is there on an app. We are innovating out of India and now we have taken this platform to countries like Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia.
What has been the response from the consumers?
We solve six problems. Search, booking appointments, consultation online, ordering medicines, health fitness content online and digital health records. What we find is that all age groups need something of this, but consumers in the age group 20-40, is where we see the most traction. This segment is more aware of their health needs. They also want to do it digitally and in comfort. However, we get response from all the age groups.
What are Practo’s expansion plans, considering that you are in 35 Indian cities?
We are making a concerted effort to reach out to enterprises and want to take Practo to 100 cities this year. We are optimising to build a larger network which will give scale and make us a serious long-term player.
What are the revenue streams of Practo?
We have a software as a service (SaaS) solution, healthcare hardware devices and ads on our network. Our model is an integrated health solution and will target every segment of the industry. For the first few years our focus was largely on smaller health centres but now we are more focused on hospitals. Our acquisitions of Qikwell and Insta (healthcare tech firms) were primarily targeted at the hospital space. In 2017, our revenue will be equal from both clinics & nursing homes and large hospitals. There is one more area which will start kicking in is the area of consumer transaction. We have done some amount of beta testing on ordering of medicines. In a year or two, we will be looking at enterprises as there is a lot of work to be done with corporates, insurance firms and pharma companies.
Why is Practo expanding overseas?
We want to be the healthcare platform for the country but we also want to be a global company. We believe that Practo is building something innovative and it will be proven if it is able to scale beyond a single country. The countries we are going into have also characteristics similar to India and returns will come in the next five years. When one is offering a service across countries, the platform becomes powerful. As a network driven consumer product, our ability to leverage multiple countries is very high.
Will Practo look at raising more funds?
Good companies do not need too much capital to win. It can give you a headstart, but it is your core innovation which has to work. We are focused on having enough revenue channels and scale to grow without external capital. We will grow with our internal accruals, that is our plan and it is a sign of a healthy company. We will not need any fund raise but if there is good investor, we will look into it. Our aim is to build a sustainable long term business.