“Generally, health (sector) is just so heavily regulated. It’s just a painful business to be in. It’s just not necessarily how I want to spend my time,” said Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google during a fireside chat with Vinod Khosla – the billionaire venture capitalist and co-founder of Sun Microsystems – at the 2014 KV CEO Summit in the Valley.
Few will dare to enter the domain that gives the creep to even Google. Although Sergei was talking about the regulatory burden on the US healthcare sector, the scenario is not much different in India. The regulations are not well-defined, are confusing and not at all transparent in India. Of late, however, a number of health-tech startups have mushroomed across the country. These brave entrepreneurs are making the best use of technology and innovation – to save lives.
India is witnessing an amalgamation of healthcare and tech like never before. In the last couple of years, many innovative and disruptive startups have come up in the health-tech space. The ballsy entrepreneurs behind these startups understand the challenges associated with this sector but they are adamant about converting them into brilliant opportunities.
They are bringing about disruption in almost all domains of healthcare; such as Practo in doctor discovery/booking space, Lybrate in online doctor consultation space, Portea and Nightingales Home Health Services (owned by Medwell Ventures) in home healthcare space and 1mg and Netmeds in the pharma delivery space. Startups like Metaome have even managed to couple the seemingly immiscible mix of big data and healthcare.
2015 was a particularly eventful year for Practo. After raising $30 Mn from Sequoia Capital and Matrix Partners in February 2015, it raised $90 Mn in the Tencent-led Series C round funding that saw participation from marquee institutional investors including Sofina, Sequoia India, Google Capital, Altimeter Capital, Matrix Partners, Sequoia Capital Global Equities and Yuri Milner, founder of DST Global. This round took the total funds raised by Practo to $125 Mn.
Last year, it went on an acquisition spree by acquiring Fitho, Genii Technologies, Qikwell Technologies and Instahealth. At the same time it also entered four Southeast Asian markets – Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. This year, it opened up new operating avenues for itself by foraying into personal care, fitness segment, and online pharma delivery space.