“Working at World Health Organisation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations taught me that success lies in collaboration rather than competition and displacement,” says Ranjit Makam, Founder and CEO of Medpick. It is this spirit of collaboration that defines the venture and has lead to its success “Our people and our model, it would be hard to pick one determinant to success. Those who came onboard early understood the complexities of the problems with healthcare and pharmaceutical delivery. We saw competitors lose money steadily on customer acquisition while fighting offline pharmacies for their customers, whereas we built a more sustainable system wherein we collaborated with the existing players to disrupt the market rather than push them out of business.”
What started the Medpick journey? Ranjit explains “I had difficulty procuring prescription drugs for my father when he was being cared for in India. My mother was the only caretaker and she would end up going round in circles to get different medications until we finalised on a pharmacy which could procure all the drugs for us, provided we sent him an email two days in advance. We realised there is a great opportunity for solving this problem and I moved down to India to do more research on the Indian pharmacy market as soon as I graduated with my Masters’ in Health Administration from the University of Pittsburgh. Very soon I understood that nothing had changed from 10 years ago, when I was practising as a physician in Bangalore, things were just as disorganised and problematic. So, I began interacting with pharmacies and customers to capture all the pain points and build a custom solution.”
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing, “Initially there appeared to be a huge resistance from pharmacies as they feel threatened by online drug portals. Very often, we have also noticed pharmacy associations going on strikes to ban online drug sales and all our competitors had to work around this in some form to continue their business, but in our case, the solutions we offered to pharmacies were well accepted. Once we explained our model, pharmacies understood that we supplemented their business and improved their competitiveness with online portals. This helped us to not only get pharmacies on board, but also on a subscription model, which helps our cash flow in the B2B sector.”
For Medpick, after-purchase support has been a defining factor, they talk to customers, in order to make the buying experience better and simpler and work on enabling stress-free returns. Ranjit tells us more about their approach “Customer retention is our main focus and we tend to work through a customer centric approach. Whether it is online support through pharmacists and health professionals at Medpick or offline support at the retail outlets – we answer all the questions of our customers. Our plan is to extend sales to consumers on a variety of platforms like the web and especially mobile, which has an ever-growing user base in a developing country like India. Our business model is built to be replicated pan India and our beta program in Bangalore will help us in achieving this more effectively and efficiently. The final product will roll out in all the cities with special focus in two-tier cities and smaller towns where the supply chain management is facing a total failure. We also will create a global network for manufacturers and distributors to channelize their products to Indian consumers through our Medpick partners.”
Technology has been used sparingly in order “to focus more on the core business than jumping through tech hoops. We rely on Quickbooks for our complicated accounting system as we are a B2B2C, and some core productivity and task management tools to stay on track and keep the team on the same page at all times such as Google Apps, Asana and Slack.”
Ranjit’s advice to new startups? “In the world of startup mania, it’s important to master failure: face it, own it and learn from it. More practically, it’s important to be persuasive whether asking for investment or for someone to join your team. Finally, it’s important to know how to enjoy and share happiness and success with your team.”
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