Every year, August 21 is World Entrepreneurs’ Day. A day which has been coined to celebrate innovation and empowerment of entrepreneurship and leadership throughout the world. Entrepreneurship is vital not just for job creation but a very essential and integral part of our economic growth and problem-solving.
Over the years, our honourable Prime Minister has emphasised that entrepreneurs need the 3Cs for Success – Capital, Courage and Conviction. Several initiatives and support from the government and industry bodies have helped develop and nourish a healthy startup environment across the country which is now an epitome of envy world over basis the numerous success stories.
The achievements are also a reflection on our society’s capacity for boldness, risk-taking, creativity and encouragement.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Development Institute (GEDI), an enterprise is a crucial engine of economic growth. Without enterprise and entrepreneurs, there would be little innovation, little productivity growth, and few new jobs.
GEDI also ranked India as 68th out of 137 countries, a “middling” performance. As per the Asia Pacific region, India is again in the middle position, 14th out of 28 countries. The leading regional players are Australia, Hong Kong and Taiwan at first, second and third positions respectively.
It is noteworthy that India falls below China (9th) and more established regional economies such as Korea (4th) and Japan (6th) in the region. However amongst all these parameters what makes us stand apart is the ability to continuously innovate.
Earlier this year, the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) was announced by NITI AYOG for providing an ecosystem for budding & existing women entrepreneurs across the country. SIDBI has partnered with NITI Aayog to assist in this initiative. We now see more than 40% of women entrepreneurs in the start-up friendly environment of our country and has proved to be a blessing for women entrepreneurs and instrumental in fighting gender stereotyping in the business community.
Healthcare and health tech-related innovation or entrepreneurship are crucial for a developing country like ours where the skill to access gaps is huge and the demographic challenges are quite daunting. A recent NASSCOM report mentions that around 10% of the overall startups registered in the country are healthcare-related, while this is a good number to start with, attract-ability and sustenance remain a key challenge.
While large companies do break the stereotypes, there is clearly room for more to occupy the pedestal.
Here are some of my lessons and learnings for healthcare entrepreneurs or healthcare startups in India:
Focus is the key: Often small success peaks can tend to deviate from the opportunity given the breadth of the healthcare scenario in our country. Staying focussed in going in deep will unlock potential.
Passion and Purpose prevail Prejudice: Naysayers are common in healthcare given the vastness and the slowness of disruption, sheer passion and purpose to make a difference has to far outweigh the complications that come with the strides.
Regulation Hurdles- Boon or Bane: A country like ours always plays catch up with regulation following innovation and healthcare is no different. While the restrictions act as thresholds, a whole host of them are under revision which can only be revised through innovation inspiring those changes, an entrepreneur would see the opportunity in this than as a constriction.
Know your Customer: Quite often the most missed perspective in healthcare. Is it the clinician, is it the employee, is it the payor, is it the consumer and in each one of these, the opportunity is pretty vast to find your customer and build a sustainable engagement model.
Lean, Mean and Dream: Build-in parts and know the building blocks from the beginning on how to stay lean while continuing to grow, know the incremental costs are, how to align towards larger prospects and what are such investments in the asset, people, a strategy that will help achieve the dream.
Know your Economics : Not the stately kind, but what is required for sustenance, what are the key metrics of leverage, what are the scalable ones, fixed costs vs variable costs all having to necessarily lead in to returnable shareholder ( being one or many ) investments, that’s the only way that quality capital interest can be generated.
Digital First has to be a key motivation: In today’s day and age, even brick and mortar companies have to cultivate and sustain a keen digital sense as the customer engagement is digital and only going to increase, if it is not natural to the entrepreneur, adding this talent to the core team should be a top priority. With all the initiatives around ( govt included ) digital empowered healthcare institutions will stand to grow exponentially than the ones who are not.
Marathon, relay and sprints: Healthcare enterprises of any form can be long, painful, full of obstacles and will require changing gears and a keen sense from the entrepreneur to ensure the long haul merits far outweigh the short term pains.
Risk Mitigation to Value Creation: Make no doubt about it, life in any form of healthcare exposure comes with their own set of risks. Knowing the risks and working to ensure that mitigation and management of such risks are a key bearing on the success or elimination of such efforts.
For entrepreneurs always remember, India is a complex country and uncertainty will always remain. Entrepreneurs will always be at cross borders competing with many ventures. We all will have to keep thinking ahead, innovate and also look for avenues for globalizing our proposition—manufacturing, service delivery, capital sourcing, or talent acquisition, the moment they start up.
Startup is the beginning, Scaleup is the course.