‘SuVitas is doing well and is progressing to achieve breakeven in < 12 months’

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Updated: February 08, 2016 6:15 PM

The 58-bed startup transition care facility called Suvitas.com in Hyderabad offers a stroke programme for neurology, orthopaedic, oncology and cardiology patients in need of specialised rehabilitation support. Raelene Kambli interacts with Bipin Pendyala, Founder and MD, SuVitas to understand his business model and strategy for sustainability

The 58-bed startup transition care facility called Suvitas.com in Hyderabad offers a stroke programme for neurology, orthopaedic, oncology and cardiology patients in need of specialised rehabilitation support. Raelene Kambli interacts with Bipin Pendyala, Founder and MD, SuVitas to understand his business model and strategy for sustainability

Tell us about your start-up SuVitas. What does your business comprise?

201602ehm05Bipin Pendyala

SuVitas is India’s first transition care company dedicated to provide accelerated and effective post- hospitalisation care with patient significance. We serve patients recovering from neuro/ neuro surgery, major road accidents, orthopaedic, cardiac surgery and early stage oncology health incidents.

  • Need: When individuals are recovering from neuro surgery, neurology problem, spinalcord surgery, major road accidents, hip replacement/ fracture, etc., the recovery period after hospital discharge is long drawn and requires intense medical care along with specialist equipment. The family too is devastated and not equipped to deal with the recovery process
  • Strategy: SuVitas blue ocean strategy is protocol oriented personalised care plan, homelike relaxing environment, empathetic approach, and collaborative care from physicians, therapists (physio, occupation, speech, respiratory), nursing, dieticians and emotional counsellors. Patients are called ‘residents’ as they stay for a period of two to 16 weeks at SuVitas, as required for their recovery
  • Therapy services: Physiotherapy, occupation therapy, speech therapy, cognitive therapy, respiratory therapy (BiPAP, CPAP management)
  • Nursing services: Tracheotomy, Ryles tube/ PEG tube feeding, catheter management, oxygen requirement, vitals monitoring and medication, wound care and positioning, bladder and bowel care as well as personal grooming
  • Nutrition services: Advice and counselling, personalised diet delivery
  • Awareness/ education and engagement services: Education to resident/ family member about the health incident, current and future requirements; education on necessary lifestyle changes, meditation, music and art therapy, festival and birthday celebrations for residents

How old is your business?

We launched our services in late May 2015, hence eight months old now.

How did you start your business and how did you manage to scale it?

We are familiar with the maturity of post-hospitalisation transition care segment in the US and UK. We have also witnessed first hand challenges of recovery for the individual and supporting family when one goes through a major health incident. Further, given the growing healthcare investment scenario in India and the changing dynamics of society in the metro’s made us believe that our plan to start a transition care business in India is very viable and also that the time is appropriate.

Over the past eight months we have moved from concept stage to serving 100 residents (patients are called residents at SuVitas as spend long time with us while recouping). We are now operating at 60 per cent occupancy within our 50-bed capacity. We have built the business based on trusted relationship with physicians/ surgeons and marketing efforts and media. Scaling up business will be a result of building strong brand recall in the general population as well sustaining the trusted relationship with physician/ surgeon community in the locations we operate.

Are there any entry barriers that you face? If yes, how did you overcome it?

SuVitas is the first transition care company in India and hence is the category pioneer. The initial challenges were evangelising and concept selling. Awareness and education of general population at large is a huge task for a start-up and requires tremendous efforts. For this,we leverage print and television media extensively to spread the awareness among general population.

What are the other challenges you faced?

As transition care is a novel concept in our country, we had to hire the right people and more importantly ensure proper orientation of the team members for delivering services.

Tell us about your investors? Are they VCs, angel investors, crowd funded or anything else?

We have not yet raised external funding. SuVitas is bootstrapped by the three promoters. We will now look to raise funds for expansion.

What is your opinion on choosing the VCs over angel or crowd funding? Which medium gives a better deal?

VCs vs angel funding is largely a derivative of the size of investment required. Angel funding is usually in the range of $20,000 to $500,000 whereas VC funding is typically upwards of $1000000. Approaching angel funding is relatively simpler as there are about 10 angel networks in the country and since each network is a large group of individuals from diverse background, there is likely to be interest for almost all sectors. Approaching VCs require additional homework to identify the funds that are investing in the specific sector and understanding the fund’s investment philosophy and then seeking an opportunity to pitch.

What is the current size of your business? How much money have you raised so far?

Currently, we are doing a run rate of Rs four crore and progressing towards target of Rs six crore by the end of this FY. We have not raised any external funding till now but will be looking forward to doing so for our growth in the coming months. Our plan is to expand to 2000-bed capacity across the country in the coming four to five years.

Most start-ups in India are only meeting top lines. How would you differentiate your start-up from the rest?

In the early stage, every start-up struggles with topline and bottomline projections and meeting the same. It is natural for a start-up to focus more on topline during the early stages to gain momentum and then seek profitability.

Typically healthcare delivery organisations take 18-24 months to get to breakeven. SuVitas is doing well and is progressing to achieve breakeven in < 12 months.

What is your plan for sustainability?

Business sustainability is not a critical challenge as the demand for transition care while dormant is very large. We estimate the potential size to be approximately $ four billion given the consistent increase in medical tourism, stroke and cardiac problems in the current population demographics.

With regard to environmental sustainability, our business has very little carbon footprint.

Are you equipped for an uncertainty in the business environment?

As a young startup it is important for us to be prepared for and plan for uncertainty. Promoter team is well experienced and are certain of weathering any challenges that come along.

What are your expectations from the new start-up policy by the government?

It is very encouraging to see the initiatives of the current government and the PM. One initiative that will further enhance entrepreneurial ecosystem (in addition to the current proposals) is to give tax exemption when promoters invest into starting a new company. Instead of investing post-tax money if promoters are given the option to invest pre-tax money (essentially tax exemption/ break), it will further improve the money flow into startups and encourage individuals to become entrepreneurs. It is also important to give tax exemptions to capital gains from own startup similar to capital gains from listed companies/ MFs.

raelene.kambli@expressindia.com

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