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This is the story of a startup started by my friend who is a Pediatric Surgeon at CNBC Hospital, Delhi.
It was almost 1 AM and Dr. Pritesh, my "chuddy buddy", met me on my way back home from the office.
Dr. Pritesh was not surprised because he knew I was used to working late. He asked me what exactly is the idea of a startup, how easy is it to set up one and what are the qualities required to start a business. The questions just made me smile and we had a long chat.
Next day, he came up to my office and asked me if I would support him if he had an idea of a venture in healthcare. Being foodies, we planned to go out and discuss this idea over a meal. We sat at Dilli 6, a restaurant in Noida and discussed various new stuff that came in our minds regarding new ventures. He wanted to have a business where he could provide medicines to people at their doorsteps. Rather than having a chemist shop, he wanted to have a channel for delivering medicines at home. He wanted me to be the Co-Founder but I was already preoccupied in my own venture. Anything that I do apart from my venture related work, like Guest Sessions or Consulting some foreign clients on Online Marketing, it is to earn some extra money and invest in my own venture, TestFormula.com (An Online Test Series Provider).
After the dinner that was made interesting enough by our regular gossips and laughter, we had a serious thought on the same idea. Initially, I put long hours with him on weekends and he understood the process that was to be executed. Honestly, I wanted to leave it right there.
After the long discussions, I tried to explain my Friend that
“Knowing is not enough, we must APPLY the knowledge in the right direction.
Willing is not enough, we must Do”
He then offered me to guide him and execute this plan, by offering me 2.5 Lakh rupees. I never asked him why and how that particular figure came to his mind but took the offer! We both started working and did lots of research. Out of the 6 startups from desk research and my LinkedIn networking, we found that 3 were shut down. Others were contacted by us and we met their Co-Founders. These startups were also not able to scale up and were looking for funding. My friend did not want to get fund, at least at this stage, and so, we started to plan it well and execute.
Domain name, Dialmedicines.com ! Not bragging, but we just loved the name as it was directly telling our mode of business (Dial the number and order your medicines). For this, we also took a VIP number which is nothing but a number that is easy to remember.
Knowing the objective of Dr. Pritesh which was to beat the profit of 10 regular chemist shops or you can say, earning 10 lakh a month, we wanted to keep it offline, meaning, no online promotion and no investment into internet technology. The venture was on-a-dial service. Since our target customers were those who suffer from chronic diseases and the aged people who are usually less techy savvy, we planned to keep it simple by ordering us on call. Prescriptions and cash could be taken while delivering the medicines.
We started with Noida and Vaishali. We got tied up with 2 Hospitals for Joggers Park and other marketing campaigns. We got a very good response and we were getting around 10 orders per day. Each order was a minimum of Rs. 2000/- (as it was for chronic diseases). Our first order was for Rs. 4243/-. We celebrated after delivering our first order! We hired people and business just expanded.
We campaigned in huge hospitals, All for FREE, all thanks to my networking skills, the only thing I am proud of! ;)
We got plenty of data in our database from the Societies/Apartments of Noida which were our targets. We were full of energy and my consulting period was almost over. I suggested him to hire a Project Manager because orders were raining after every event and Operation Management was the toughest part. We usually look at the 1% of the entire effort which turned out to be fruitful; 99% of sheer hard work and “Just do it” attitude is taken for granted.
We had done surveys among nearly 130 chemists, visited and met marketing people from top hospitals and laboratories. For the campaigns, we met around 50 Doctors in case we had to organize the camps and above all, motivate our “Pharma management” Interns from Jamia Hamdard, before we got tied up with hospitals. These 7 guys were just brilliant. They were highly motivated and hardworking in the Summers of Delhi, sweating but full of spirit. Some of them had Ramzan ( Muslim’s religious month in which they don’t even take water).
Finally, our startup was getting popular among the residents of Noida. We also did some pitching to corporates where we could deliver the medicines on order. We planned to do video blogging to discuss benefits of generic medicines (which have similar efficacy but are very cheaper than the branded medicines).
The moment I left Dialmedines.com, Dr. Pritesh was occupied with lots of personal things. His family supported this initiative enthusiastically; otherwise, being a surgeon, it was not accepted as an appropriate work. Hats off to his Family!
I was in touch with his business because Dr. Pritesh was not just a client but a childhood friend and moreover, a wannapreneur who was trying to solve a big problem by promoting generic medicines.
Anyway, his startup is in Nursery for now. The venture is on hold because managing this venture is a daily activity and Dr. Pritesh alone could not do it. He is looking for a Co-Founder and someone who has the same vision “To provide an affordable health care to the society”.
This was just a brief of Dr. Pritesh Maheshwari. He left a private hospital because he found that he had to do what the hospital wanted him to do. He is an emotional and an honest guy who cannot promote branded medicines when his education teaches him the benefits of generic medicines.
I wish I could bring back his baby from nursery and let it grow in the fresh air. It needs to be nurtured by the right sources in order to provide fine quality resources to the people.