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Health care apps and ventures gain traction

BS Reporter  |  Pune 

Start-ups have made a considerable contribution to the health care segment in recent times.

In the first quarter of 2015, some big deals were signed in the health care segment — Manipal Health Enterprises attracted Rs 900 crore ($150 million) from TPG Capital, Medanta Medcity received Rs 700 crore (about $114 million) from Temasek (via a secondary purchase from Punj Lloyd), said a note from Venture Intelligence.

But other than the pharma and the hospital segment, which are mature segments and have had their share of PE investments, it is in the digital healthcare segment that a lot of activity has happened including funding from accelerators, angels, and VCs.

Take the instance of Obino, a do-it-yourself weight-loss app. The company founded by Ritu Soni Srivastava was launched in August of 2014.

Srivastava claims the app is different from several of the weight-loss app available simply because it caters to the Indian audience. “The apps that are in use will not have food items like bread pakora, rajma-chawal or other Indian food. We give calorie count based on Indian food. Also if you are expected to consume x amount of calories per day, what food constitutes that calories is never available,” said Srivastava.

Obino has 2,400 active users and has been downloaded 18,000 times. What Obino also does is recommend, remind and monitor. “Going ahead we will have coach (dieticians) as part of the app. At present the premium model that we have is paid, but in the next 1.5 months we will make it free,” added Srivastava. Obino which plans to raise Series A funding in the next 12 months is targeting 200,000 downloads and 50,000 active users in a years time.

The other healthcare wellness startup that has managed to break international barriers with its app is GOQii, founded by serial entrepreneur Vishal Gondal. GOQii integrates wearables, with expert-led personalised training. The wearables come for free, users need to pay for the advice or coach. Gondal believes that there are too many devices and data, but one need a health curator to understand that data.

In India GOQii already has 10,000 users and Gondal has taken the company to the US. In the US it is still in beta test and will be launched later this year. GOQii has raised about USD 2.5 million till date. And has backing from angel investors such as Amit Singhal (Google), Anil Godhwani (Habitera), Bharat Vasan (MyBasis), Dr Shriram Nene, Esther Dyson, Goutam Godhwani (Simply Hired), Kanwaljit Bombra (Dell), Madhuri Dixit-Nene (actress), Mahesh Samat (Epic), Mike McNamara (Flextronics), Prashant Gulati(TiE), Sanjay Parthasarthy (Indix), Sanjay Vaswani, Steve Luczo (Segate), Taher Khorakiwala and Vijay Vashee (Microsoft).

Dr Vishal Bansal, CEO, Health Start, feels that with the huge amount of digital growth in India, uptake of services has gone up and healthcare is one area that is getting impacted. He also feels that India has a huge challenge as far as competent workforce in healthcare segment is concerned and where technology can play a crucial role.

Delhi-based Health Start and Banguluru based InnAccel are among the first accelerators to have come up with a focus on healthcare in India.

“Digitial healthcare, MedTech, disease management and wellness are some of the areas that we like to focus. These areas have lagged behind the other two mature wings of healthcare — hospitals and pharma — as they require indepth experience and maturity that comes with prior work experience. And sadly both ore-seed and seed funding is not easily available to these people,” said Bansal.

Health Start that was founded in 2014 initiated the first batch of startups by partnering with ISB. Obino is one of the start-ups that passed the accelerator programme. Health Start has also invested in a Elementia Wellness as part of its Angel programme.

With investor interest growing for healthcare segment, Indian startups in this sector will see huge demand. According to Venture Intelligence’ first quarter report (Q1, 2015) healthcare is the third most funded sector with a total of $392 million invested across nine transactions.

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First Published: Sat, April 04 2015. 22:27 IST