May, 25, 2017
Closer to giving every indian a health account
01 Jun
2015
Posted by DIVYA M. CHANDRAMOULI

Practo, Asia’s largest doctor search engine has a monthly tally of one million users who book close to 1,20,000 appointments through its platform. In just a year, it’s mobile application has grown exponentially to account for 60 per cent of its user traffic and with a mobile-first approach, the team is looking to generate far greater usage in this fiscal

The healthcare industry in India today is growing at a CAGR of 17 per cent according to a report published by Indian Brand Equity Foundation. By 2017, the report suggests that the market size will grow to US $160 billion and by 2020, US $280 billion. It is no wonder then that many new businesses are identifying a niche for themselves in this space to service this growing market. One such business is Bengaluru-based Practo Technologies (Practo), a prominent doctor search engine in Asia.  At present, nearly one million users book close to 1,20,000 appointments on a monthly basis at Practo.

When we last spoke to Practo in May 2014 the company was gearing up towards its growth phase and inching closer to its founder’s vision of enabling every individual to have a health account. In February 2015, the company received its latest round of funding to the tune of US$ 30 million from Sequoia Capital and Matrix Partners. The company intends to utilise a large portion of this towards strengthening its team, entering new geographies and spreading the word on its efforts.

Gaining ground

Over the last fiscal, Practo has expanded to over 37 cities across India, Singapore and Philippines and is looking to enter new, developing markets. “We are interested in developing countries where mobile Internet penetration is growing at a pace that is similar to India’s or lagging just behind,” says Shashank ND , co-founder, Practo.  It also took the inorganic route to growth by acquiring FitHo, a lifestyle disease management application and website, in April 2015. In the next half of the current fiscal, Practo will make use of FitHo’s proprietary technology to launch a new preventive product while the latter’s founders, Dhruv Gupta and Prachi Gupta, will join its management team as product head for preventive healthcare and general manager-operations (new segments), respectively. “FitHo is first of several acquisitions we are exploring. It is the next step in our mission to make a single health app which offers consumers a more comprehensive solution ranging from preventive to curative healthcare,” adds Shashank.

In this time period Practo has had significant traction on mobile with the medium accounting for nearly 60 per cent of its overall user traffic. “About 80 per cent of our bookings are happening through the mobile and this is a definite focus area for us,” shares Shashank. With mobile technology driving the healthcare industry through increased penetration, especially in tier-II and tier-III regions, Practo has hit a growth rate of nearly 25 per cent from 5 per cent in the previous fiscal, for these regions.

Hiring smart

To keep pace with the company’s growth, its team has grown exponentially from about 200 last May to its current strength of over 1,000 employees.  By the end of this fiscal, Shashank shares that the company is likely to grow to 2,000 employees to support its operations world over. “We made the second highest number of job offers (25) at Indian School of Business this year,” says Shashank, while reiterating that hiring from top-end business and technology institutions has helped upgrade the quality of the team. This being said, the company is also encouraging of young employees who come from business schools in the Tier-II and Tier-III regions, to join its workforce.  Shashank points out that hiring the right member remains a primary challenge for the company and the founding team and top management spend a fair bit of their time in making qualitative assessments on whom to hire.

Shashank also emphasises that attrition is minimal at Practo thanks to its flat structure and transparent work culture. “At Practo, culture is of extreme importance to us. Our employees are called Practeons and we spend enormous energy in finding like-minded people who want to join us to solve problems that people haven’t even dared to solve before. Our motto is ‘do-great’ which means that every Practeon wants to excel at everything they do, not for want of reward or recognition (which they get) but because that is what they expect of themselves,” he elaborates.

Making the right noise

Practo is well aware of the need to generate awareness about what it does and for this very reason, it has invested heavily in marketing, especially on mass media such as television. The recently concluded Indian Premier League saw Practo advertise alongside some of the biggest players across various industries and it is this aggressive approach that is helping the brand gain top recall in the healthcare segment. “Through our television campaign we want to put out the word to people to stop ignoring their health niggles and to take immediate action to address these,” says Shashank. Practo has also invested in social media and has orchestrated special campaigns such as its Mother’s Day special video. “In just a couple of days the video went viral and had over a half million hits,” states Shashank.

In the short while that it has been around, Practo has proven that it is not afraid to go out and create a big wave of change by way of urging technology adoption to meet healthcare needs. Given that the company has its checks and balances in place to seize growth opportunities that come its way, Practo is one of the exciting prospects to emerge in the Indian health-tech space.

Then

Now

Strength: 200

Strength: 1,000

Presence: 6 cities in India

Presence: 37 cities including Singapore and Manila

Investors: Sequoia Capital

Investors: Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners

Investment: US$ 5 million

Investment:  Second round of US$ 30 million

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