How a 15-month-old healthcare startup bagged Rs1 crore from a reality show

Niharika Verma
Niharika Verma Sep 29 2017 - 6 min read
How a 15-month-old healthcare startup bagged Rs1 crore from a reality show
Launched in 2015 by Gurgaon-based 911 India Healthcare Pvt Ltd, in span of only 15 months, the startup has been approached by numerous pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, medical equipment manufacturers and others.

Often ingenious business ideas brew over a cup of coffee! Exactly the same was saga of medical networking app Curofy conceptualization. Narrating the same,Pawan Gupta, one of the founding members of the Delhi-based startup, said, “All three (Gupta and his fellow partners Nipun Goyal and Mudit Vijayvergiya) of us were part of different initiatives at our college and wanted to start something of our own. In the final year in 2012 during a midnight coffee break, the idea of starting something floated by and nobody ditched. We started a medical tourism company at first.”

The trio was able to get much lucrative business that offered good margins too. However, they soon encountered a big problem on which the medical tourism industry was thriving upon - the connectivity among doctors was lacking. This was making collaborative patient care slow, inefficient and costly.

“It was then that we dropped the idea, took jobs with MNCs and continued researching about the concept of medical networking in India. Till May 2014, we met over 1,000 doctors and the need was evident,” explained Gupta.

DNA of Curofy

Developed with an objective to create a digital world of doctors, Curofy offers a spam-free environment to communicate with each other. The startup provides a support system with access to knowledge, jobs, devices and various other resources that needs to become efficient in their practice.

Currently company’s focus is on building a high quality engaging network of doctors. In about 15 months of the launch, the company has been approached by numerous pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, medical equipment manufacturers and other healthcare businesses for partnerships.

This clearly shows how valuable such a network can be for these players who spend billions of dollars to reach out to doctors.

We are a group of young, passionate engineers and doctors building a habit forming tech product for doctors by continuously adding value to them, thereby creating an online supply of doctors for the healthcare industry. We want to become the digital world for doctors.

Funds rolling in

The young venture has recently bagged Pre-Series A funding from Seattle-based Roundglass partners. Earlier in TIECON 2014, Curofy, in a dramatic circumstances reality-based event on CNBC won angel funding to the tunes of Rs1 crore from a set of reputed investors like Rajul Garg, Alok Mittal, Anand Lunia, Dinesh Agarwal and Dr. Shuchin Bajaj.

Curofy got funded under the most dramatic circumstances in a reality show called TIECON, the Shark Tank equivalent in India.

“As we are fundamentally a tech company, most of our funds are being deployed in improving our product. We are focusing a lot on relevance so that every second spent by doctors on the app should be spent more productively. Since most of our growth is organic, our marketing spends have also been very limited,” said Gupta


Investor’s role

He further added, “Roundglass Partners is a healthcare focused VC and come with a lot of network and support. Rajul Garg, who has been our mentor from beginning, sits on our board and spend a lot of time with us, sharing his experience with us.”

Strategy to gain competitive edge

Docplexus, PlexusMD, Dailyrounds are a few names to mention. Curofy is changing behaviour of doctors, making them adopt this closed social media through its relevance based algorithm, which keeps the platform targeted and spam free. Strong verification process, helps in maintaining the authenticity and trust in the community. Being mobile only, it has a very high engagement of doctors on the network. It is creating a huge impact in the digital healthcare industry by increasing supply of Online Active doctors.

Revenue model

Curofy is developed with an objective of providing non-intruding, spam free and organized network for doctors. Currently, company’s focus is on building a high quality engaging network of doctors. Curofy has started doing pilot with select players, where the app provides them chance to make their content available on this highly engaged network of doctors. For instance, various hospitals (including St. John's, Cygnus, Columbia Asia, Rockland, Fortis and Apollo) have been pushing jobs on the platform and are getting candidates through Curofy. Similarly, some medical devices and pharmaceutical players are benefiting by reaching out directly to interested doctors.

Overcoming challenges

It is a space that has not seen advancement for a long time. The stakeholders like premium salons and spas have a very wealthy and niche clientele. Rest is a market of middle aged women that don’t fancy technology. Also, it is a high loyalty industry, driven primarily by ROI, this part of the business, if resolved well, can do wonders.

Geographical presence

“We are present across India with over 72,000 doctors from 550+ cities using Curofy to discuss difficult cases, read latest news and browse premium jobs. Our target is to reach over 70 per cent of 1.5 million Indian doctors in next couple of years. While penetrating deeply in Indian doctors’ community, our core focus is with time we will also expand globally with the help of local channel partners,” informed Gupta.

Pricing strategy

Curofy is and always will be free for the doctors. The app is looking to connect with the industry stakeholders to the doctors in a non intrusive manner, where value addition is the prime focus.

“This is just one of the many ways we are trying to increase profit,” noted he.

Scaling up

Further, talking about the improvement of the app, Gupta said, “Scaling would not be an apt word here. Obviously for a startup, growth should always be at the core. However, we are in the creation phase. We are building tools for the industry that is new, with a sense of nervy optimism. The industry is due for its digital revolution and we want to be there at the forefront, when it does.”

What are your future plans?

Aims to empower doctors to save as many lives as possible by helping them coordinate with each other in difficult cases and doing timely referrals.

“We are fundamentally a tech company, and we will continue to improve our product. Our first and foremost priority is to create engagement among doctors in India. We have recently moved from 25 specialties to 400 sub specialties to ensure that only relevant content is shown to doctors,” shared Gupta.

This is further increasing customer engagement on Curofy.

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