Giving care to elderly and needy, at home
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Blenders Pride Reserve Collection presented Entrepreneur India’s 35Under35 2020 list which included some leading names from the field of entrepreneurship and Garima Tripathi made it to the coveted list.
On a chilly January afternoon, Care24’s reception area is filled with more than 30 people. While some are filling forms, a few others are performing basic tests. “They are here to be hired as care givers on our platform,” said an employee who guided this reporter to the meeting room.
The room seemed more like a doctor’s cabin rather than a conventional start-up office where employees work while sitting on bean bags or the firm operates out of a chic co-working spaces.
“About 1,200 people (potential care givers) come to our office for interview and 250-300 of them become care givers on our platform,” said Garima Tripathi, co-founder and chief operating officer (COO) at Care 24. The 32-year-old Tripathi, started the ‘elderly care’ platform in 2014 with Vipin Pathak.
Owned by Aegis Care Advisors Pvt. Ltd, Care24 typically provides at-home attendants for multiple services including recently discharged patients, who have suffered a heart attack, stroke or were admitted in intensive care unit. The app also provides services for cancer patients, and patients suffering from Parkinson’s disorder and dementia.
Tripathi worked as a business technology analyst after graduating from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, with a bachelor of technology degree, in 2010. She chose to pursue a diploma in fine arts, at Tuft University in Boston. “Given a middle-class upbringing, our exposure to creativity and culture seems limited to what we are taught in schools. While I was at the art school, I met people who were in medical schools such as Harvard Medical School. And when I used to go on rounds with them, I would see how much better care giving can be,” said Tripathi.
While Tripathi was in the US, her father suffered from a condition called Aeteriosclerosis, which led her to relocate back to India. “My father needed a lot of post discharge care, which was not easily available. We did not know a physiotherapist might be needed and finding a good one would be difficult,” she added.
This was a light-bulb moment for Tripathi. With angel investments from friends and family, Care24 co-founders started setting up medical camps in apartment complexes in Marol, a suburban area in Mumbai. The team, accompanied by an experienced nurse, would provide free health check-ups, which included body mass index (BMI) test, blood pressure check-up, among other tests. The experiment gave the team enough data to understand the market and their needs.
After raising a seed round of about $350,000, in 2015, from early-stage investor India Quotient, among others, Care24 went on to raise about $4 million from Saif Partners in less than six months. Saif Partners is a venture capital firm, which has previously invested in companies including mobile wallet Paytm and tickets booking platform Bookmyshow.
Care24 is also in talks to raise a bridge round from a Japanese and an American investor between March and June. Tripathi refrained from revealing the amount as the discussions are still in process.
Currently, the app is live in Mumbai and New Delhi and the start-up is all set to enter Bengaluru by May. Japan is also a potential market for the start-up as elderly population is constantly increasing in the country. “No less than 38 per cent of Japanese will be aged 65 and over by 2065, making it the world’s leading ‘super-aged society’,” acoording to a report released by Forbes magazine.
With millennials looking for excitement, many choose to start a company. But either fail or leave the space within a year or two because of lack of funding, public interest and motivation, among other factors. “The market should be really big for a problem you are picking up. If you are picking up a niche market, then be prepared that it might not be an investor-led business. For instance, I can choose to start a gluten-free and vegan start-up but then it might not appeal to a lot of investors since it caters to a niche crowd. How many people will need gluten-free products versus elderly care? So it is a huge market,” said Tripathi.
Funding is not the only way a start-up can scale. Bengaluru-based Zerodha is India’s largest stock-broking platform and has not raised any big rounds of funding from venture capitalists. The company was founded in 2010. But capital availability it does let an entrepreneur experiment with multiple business models.“I was lucky to work with people whom I knew. Otherwise starting a company could be very lonely,” she added. Tripathi claims the company is profitable for now but the margins might shrink as the company is constantly expanding their team to tap into new cities with in India and abroad.