For Prashant Tandon, the itch to return to India and start something of his own started in 2007, when he graduated from business school. But he parked himself at McKinsey for a couple of years to figure out his next course of action. This is where he was introduced to healthcare and met his co-founder.
By 2009, things started falling in place for him – from getting the idea of what to do, which sector and tech to choose, to the where’s and who’s.
Prashant’s company, Gurugram-based digital health startup 1mg, aims to make healthcare accessible and economical. In June 2021, Tata Digital Ltd acquired 55% stake in 1mg to form Tata 1mg.
The evolution of healthcare
Healthcare moves at a glacier speed, it’s never fast. It’s a game of patience, it’s a game of just chipping away and making sure that you are solving the issues of today while preparing the company or model for what will be the future model of healthcare.
“What we thought that we had come to build in 2009 is what we are building now, and [we’re] hoping that a lot of that will rectify in the years to come,” Prashant says.
The wait can sometimes be irritating or frustrating, but it might not always be the right time to build what you know and want.
“You have to find what are the current problems to solve to keep yourselves actively in play…building out things that are solving today’s problems and laying the foundation for tomorrow,” he advises.
Consumer behaviour over time
The Indian consumer is not a homogeneous type of consumer. There will be some consumer for every offering. But the mega shift among Indian consumers is that they are getting more involved in their healthcare and have grown more sceptical of the healthcare they get, Prashant says.
“As opposed to about 40 years ago when doctors were kept on a pedestal, patients have started asking a lot more questions. They have started educating themselves a lot more because they don’t trust that the system is working for them. They are getting more involved in their healthcare,” he says.
In the post-COVID era, awareness level and the desire to try out preventative measures have increased.
So, while the consumer base is becoming more receptive to preventative healthcare, getting them to stick with your product depends on the services you offer. But with the subscription culture popularised by OTT platforms or ecommerce websites, consumers are more willing to stick if they feel like they are getting value.
“It’s very hard to get consumers to stick with you for a period of time and get those outcomes going. So, we thought first we’ll build stickiness, then we’ll build nudges. Then we’ll show outcomes, and then we’ll charge for those outcomes,” Prashant explains.
It is very important to have a philosophy of what you are building and what value it adds.
Prashant says instead of doing it for the excitement or to be an entrepreneur, being clear about your reason turns out to be extremely important in the long run.
“Another very, very important point I would say is that there is immense power in compounding, and you have to keep getting better every day. When you have the luxury to look back a few years down the line from where you’ve come, it’s all the little things all along the way that matter,” he says.
The founder says entrepreneurship is a marathon – and a very turbulent marathon at that – so a support system must be in place to keep going.
Having the right co-founder, core team, family systems and friends, and a sense of your own mental well-being is absolutely critical to maintain your sanity along the way.
You can listen to the full episode here
02:00 – Start up when YOU are ready
08:00 – New healthcare: From doctor-centric to patient-centric
13:15 – Acquiring consumers in healthcare
19:00 – Different customer segments in India
22:00 – Building a digital-only healthcare company
24:15 – Be very clear about your reason to exist
29:30 – Conventional wisdom doesn’t build anything new
Edited by Teja Lele