Bengaluru-based online pharmacy startup Myra has raised an undisclosed amount in extended Series A round of funding from Times Internet and the existing investor Matrix Partners. The deal amount has been speculated to be somewhere around $7Mn – $8 Mn, according to Indiatimes.
“Very few companies in India have been as successful in infusing technology into operations as Myra has. Myra has created a high frequency use case that makes it super easy for users to access a pharmacy digitally. We are delighted to partner with Myra and looking forward to accelerating their growth and expansion.” said Miten Sampat, VP – Corporate Development, Times Internet.
Myra was launched in April 2015 by Faizan Aziz and his friend Anirudh S Coontoor. They both were keen on starting up in the hyperlocal space but had their doubts on how to start and the stickiness of the product. The idea to explore the pharmaceutical vertical germinated when Faizan and his wife fell ill together. The process of getting medicines delivered at home was cumbersome and the delivery time was less than ideal.
The founders realised how broken this ‘delivery’ process was, in the online pharmacy space.
The duo decided to operate Myra on a full-stack model (with its own warehouses and a drug license) in partnership with registered pharmacists. Now, after two years of inception, the startup is clocking around 1,000 orders per day with a core team of 20 and an overall team of 300. It also claims to have the fastest delivery time of one hour in this space. Earlier in February 2016, the company had raised an undisclosed amount in Series A funding round from Matrix Partners, Pranay Chulet, co-founder of Quikr, and Prashant Malik, co-founder of LimeRoad.
Challenges In Fixing The ‘Broken’ Online Pharmacy Delivery Process
Just like any other startup, the founders of Myra also faced their set of challenges. As Faizan describes, “ Medicine is a very fragmented market and it’s difficult to understand the supply chain. In Karnataka alone, there are more than 1,000 distributors and the product coverage is nearly 1 Lakh. To figure out what to order and how to build up stock at our warehouse was a very big challenge for us.” He further explained, “Unlike FMCG, where they have fast-moving products, in medicine the stock is kept for years. So we really had to figure out how to get this done. This is where technology and data science came to our rescue.”
By understanding the sales patterns and resulting metrics, the duo got a hold of inventory v/x fulfilment ration – with respect to products, order frequency and more. As claimed by Faizan, today they have 90% fulfilment with 30 days inventory. “And this is very odd in the industry because, usually, it is 60% fulfilment with 60 days inventory.”.
The other issue they faced was logistics. The delivery was either very expensive or technology needed to be used to reduce the cost. “The technology we use is called Auto Assignment, which allows one manager to handle nearly 100 delivery boys. So everything is automated. So, we are able to do on an average 2 orders per run /per delivery boy and 16-18 deliveries per day for each delivery boy. Usually it is 8-10 in the industry,” Faizan said.
There are various online medicine retailers following different models. Bengaluru-based online healthcare platform Practo, who recently unveiled a new brand identity, has also added an option on its app that allows users to order medicines. Other startups in this segment include Netmeds.comMerapharmacy.com,, , and Medidart.com that supply prescription-based medicines.
When asked how Myra differentiates itself from these players, Faizan states, “I can tell you right now there is no online pharmacy, which has over 20,000 products available in a one-hour range. Everything is tech-driven and that’s how we manage best prices. For instance, one of our warehouses delivers 200 orders per day during peak time and we just have eight people managing it.”
With the newly raised funds, the company is planning to extend its footprint into two more metro cities. While Mumbai is finalised, the team is still brainstorming on the third possibility. Faizan further stated, “When we started Myra we decided that our main focus should be speed, reliability, convenience, and cost. Today, looking at our strong customer retention, I believe we made the right decision. By focussing on data science, R&D, and engineering we will make our user experience even better, thereby ensuring to solve customer issues more efficiently.”
According to an IBEF report, overall the Indian pharma industry is expected to “grow to $55 Bn by 2020, thereby emerging as the sixth largest pharmaceutical market globally by absolute size.” Also, the overall Indian healthcare market is worth around $100 Bn. It is expected to grow to $280 Bn by 2020 at a CAGR of 22.9%.
2016 proven to be a cold winter for the online pharmacy market in India, as the total funding dropped to $97.2 Mn from $302 Mn in 2015, as per Inc42 DataLabs analysis. However, the sector seems to have had a good start with 2017. Earlier this month, Mumbai-based pharma platform PharmEasy raised $16 Mn in Series B round led by Bessemer Venture Partners and Orios Venture Partners. Including this, to date, Q1’17 has already achieved $90 Mn fund raise, signalling positive investor sentiment in the sector.