This Startup is Using Chatbots to Tackle The Issue of Healthcare
Bootstrapping is the best thing to have happened to our company
When everyone in his peer group was aiming to join a university abroad to do their masters, entrepreneur Dhruv Suyamprakasam joined an IT services company. However, his stint at the company didn’t last very long as he soon felt a sense of incompleteness at a corporate job.
Dhruv's parents, like any other ambitious family, had saved up money to send their son for higher studies. But Dhruv decided to use that amount to start iCliniq, an online doctor consultation program. He launched his company with Dr. Madhan in 2012. Dhruv feels that the best thing to have happened to his company was to be bootstrapped. “It’s only then your brain starts cracking up with ideas,” he said.
Once failed then redeemed
Previously, ICliniq used Whatsapp as a channel to connect patients to doctors across the country. This model did not work for long and at a growth hacking workshop in Coimbatore, organized by PayU Money, he was told by a member in the audience that his platform, Whatsapp A Doctor, was not working. Dhruv realized that Whatsapp had banned the usage of their app for his product.
However this incident coincided with the launch of the bots platform by Telegram. A bot is a smart app within an app, which prevents users from downloading multiple apps on smartphone which becomes a challenge due to limitation of space on mobile phones.
Dhruv and his team bounced back within a week with the idea to launch the product on bots. “We are the world’s first healthcare company to have a bot. We are also the first healthcare company in India to have a bot on Telegram & Slack. The bot approach helped iCliniq to position itself as an innovative company and users were excited to try iCliniq’s bot out due to the associated curiosity around bots in international markets.”
Telegrams being a product from Open Source Community, helped ICliniq reach a lot of their enthusiasts. “They are a very influential set of people and their word of mouth helped us. Meanwhile Slack, the world's fastest growing enterprise app helped iCliniq to gain popularity amongst lot of companies, especially in the United States.”
Today, iCliniq’s user base comprises of 1110 doctors for over 80 plus specialties and 1,10,000 patients spanning 160 countries.
“The icing on the cake was the tweet from Ubuntu's then Vice President Cristian, about us after using iCliniq. We also got a tweet from Ubuntu's official handle. He is now involved in a stealth start-up. He has upvoted only very select products that include, Stripe, Tesla, we are highly honoured that we are one of them,” Dhruv said.
Understanding of the Indian Healthcare
Dhruv feels that his company sees a lot of queries coming from rural areas for secondary or tertiary diagnosis – like dermatologists and eye specialists. “There are around 5000 dermatologists in India today whereas there are about 30,000 – 40,000 gynaecologists in India. There is a dire need for specialists in rural areas.” According to Dhruv, that the patient to doctor ratio is really poor and the doctors are overworked. There is a need for healthcare platforms to get easy access to medical care.