A lot of great articles are available on the impact of Covid-19 on SMBs, and its broader effect on the economy. I won’t bore you with the statistics. Instead, I’ll give you my account of working at a healthcare startup and share some of my learnings. It is hard for the layperson to understand the unpredictability faced by an entrepreneur during the last year and a half. However, it was a desire to help entrepreneurs overcome this unpredictability that prompted me to join PlexusMD — India’s leading knowledge platform for doctors.
The recent rise in digital adoption in India has paved the way for platform technologies to dominate the consumer internet economy. This movement, led largely by behemoth Jio Platforms, has opened a new avenue to engage users in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, previously cut off from the internet. The trends of social commerce, education technology, and financial services have built a large part of their success on the shoulders of this movement. Could platform technologies in healthcare be next?
To answer this question, I set out on my (virtual) journey with PlexusMD towards the end of 2020.
Here Are Some of The Lessons I’ve Collected So Far
1. In times of crisis, a mission-driven company prevails
The first thing that struck me upon joining PlexusMD was the unwavering focus on fulfilling the needs of the healthcare professionals on our platform. Everything else took a backseat. This included pausing non-essential notifications sent to doctors during peak caseloads to shift focus to the larger objective of training 68k+ frontline workers in Covid-19 best practices. Mission drives action, always.
2. Lead with an empathy-first mindset
In the attention economy of 2021, it is easy to succumb to the pressure of diluting the quality of your product to make a quick buck. With the tailwinds of digital adoption highlighted earlier, a lot of healthcare companies are vying for the undivided attention of doctors. However, the doctor is not satisfied with the constant-barrage approach embraced by healthcare companies in promoting their products. This simple insight dictated the monetisation strategy on our platform. Have your ears to the ground, it is invaluable.
3. Play the long game
In one of our recent calls, our founder highlighted the power of being resilient in the face of adversity. He alluded to Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena while discussing bootstrapping versus raising funds from external investors: a debate that has consumed the Indian startup ecosystem since inception (Most recently, think Zerodha vs. Cred).
While healthcare technology in India had taken a backseat pre-pandemic, this is not the case today. Investors have finally awoken to the importance of a burgeoning healthcare ecosystem, even if the horizon for their investment is on average larger than “hot” sectors such as Fintech or E-commerce. A hidden lesson here: Hang in there, your time in the sun will arrive. Till then, keep building.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt
Apart from these invaluable lessons, I have also accumulated a plethora of micro-learnings along the way. Right from incorporating the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline) framework to qualify leads in our sales process to designing novel use cases for mobile-first applications. The diversity of knowledge transfer in a startup environment is unmatched, as is the steepness of the learning curve.
The Indian startup ecosystem is truly blessed with wonderful success stories that have been instrumental in inspiring the next generation of builders. The raw hunger, work ethic, and resilience of the Indian talent pool are on display for the world to see. And investors from far and wide are not only taking notice but are also cutting a slice of the pie for themselves.
The concept of the American Dream is slowly being replaced by our very own Indian Dream, where a clear path for social mobility is emerging for the entrepreneurs who want to build in India for India.
It is a great time to be a small part of this vibrant ecosystem.
I count my blessings each day. Stay safe and stay humble!