Factors such as changing demography and rising awareness combined with the fact that this is the golden age for startups have prompted many budding entrepreneurs to dive into healthcare business. However, a good business idea and a favorable environment are not enough to guarantee success. Often, brilliant business ideas are undone by patchy execution and misguided planning.
So if you are an entrepreneur looking to start your own health startup, here is a small checklist for you:
Conduct effective market research: Never underestimate the importance of a thorough market research. Many business ideas that may look good on paper and might have been highly successful in some other markets might fall flat when executed in your environment. Lack of market readiness, market saturation and population preferences are just some of the factors that need to be studied effectively before venturing out with an idea. For instance, if your medical startup is offering low cost treatment for Hepatitis C, it stands to be most successful in a region where HCV infection is most prevalent. To take another example, before rolling out a digital startup it is not just Internet penetration that needs to be checked, other related factors such as the age and type of Internet users and their behavioral patterns also need to be studied. Take the help of professional market researchers to make sure you meet the requirements for your intended market.
Look for partners: Healthcare is a porous field where a large number of organizations work alongside each other. A large number of hospitals, pharma companies, government bodies and NGOs working in the field have established presence and market base. Therefore it makes sense to partner with such organizations that can help you more easily reach out to their user base. Learn to work in tandem with others and jump into collaborations wherever possible. A diagnostic facility can benefit from partnering with a hospital chain, an online platform for doctors will benefit from having reputed hospitals on board in return from giving greater visibility to their doctors.
Be ready for a long haul: You may have heard and read stories about unicorn companies that entered the big league within a year or two of starting up. However, it is imperative to remember that returns do not come so quick in the healthcare sector. A number of factors such as regulatory hurdles, behavioral patterns of the population which need time to change, and less amenability of investors towards healthcare make the sales cycle longer in this field. So, make sure you are in with a lot of patience and are ready for a long haul before your success chart scales up.
Make sure investors are on the same page: When it comes to healthcare, profitability is not the only agenda on your table; an urge to bring about a positive change in the lives of people is a parallel driving force. A successful medical startup has the potential to impact millions of lives in a positive way. Therefore, it is essential to have investors who understand this aspect of your business ambition. It is essential to find someone who shares your vision, both for profitability as well as social responsibility. Bringing on board investors who possesses some knowledge of your medical field is an added bonus as it avoids unnecessary friction of values.
Hire people who know healthcare: You do not need a doctor on board, but you definitely need some people who have knowledge about healthcare, regulation and rules as well as pertinent health issues. Bear in mind that hiring for a health startup is different from hiring for other businesses. Every aspect of a healthcare startup -- from completing regulatory formalities to conducting social media outreach -- requires specialized knowledge of the healthcare domain. Even marketing a healthcare service is dramatically different from marketing other products. Therefore, it is advantageous to hire people who have some knowledge of the field or a previous brush with it.
The author Zoya Brar is Founder and MD of Core Diagnostics