We Got Funded: Okadoc Closes The Largest Ever Series A Round For A MENA Healthtech Startup
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Dubai-based startup Okadoc announced in February the closure of its US$10 million Series A round, which saw the participation of a diversified mix of institutional and private investors that included Abu Dhabi investment Office and Ithmar Capital Partners.
This investment in the UAE-born “instant doctor appointment booking platform” has been declared as the largest healthtech Series A in the MENA region, with the funds set to be used to launch Okadoc’s new telemedicine offering, which will allow doctors to offer virtual consultations to patients on the app or website.
While Okadoc founder and CEO Fodhil Benturquia acknowledges the momentous aspect of his startup’s Series A announcement, he’s clear that he’s keener on keeping his eyes trained on the company’s long-term goals. “For us, it’s not only about the amount, but what we will do with this money,” Benturquia says. “We don’t want to be a company that raises a lot of money across 5-6 rounds. We are looking to be profitable, and have a business model that is highly sustainable.”
Okadoc’s latest investment follows its $2.3 million seed round when it launched in the UAE in 2018 as an online platform that allowed patients to find doctors and instantly book appointments with them. Besides being able to search for doctors based on a variety of parameters (which includes everything from the language they speak, to the insurance networks they are covered under), users also get access to doctor schedules in realtime, which allows them to book and manage appointments in an efficient and effective manner.
As per its website, Okadoc currently features more than 16,000 profiles across 140 special ties in over 600 clinics and hospitals all over the UAE, and all of these figures are set to increase when the platform rolls out in Saudi Arabia this year. But that’s not all- with telemedicine now on the cards, Okadoc looks set to be growing not just its reach, but its appeal as a new way to access healthcare. “We predict the region will witness great demand for telemedicine, as providers look to make the patient journey and experience as convenient as possible,” Benturquia says. “Speaking of doing this well, it’s important to highlight that there are two very different types of telemedicine offerings. One type of telemedicine involves doctors sitting in a call center, waiting for patients to dial in as they need. The other –which is what Okadoc will provide– involves patients being able to book a virtual appointment with their own doctor, as if they were going to visit him or her in the office. So, you are able to talk to your own doctor, as opposed to an available doctor who is sitting in a call center. There is a certain level of comfort when it comes to being able to see your own doctor, which also aids in enhancing the patient experience. To add to that, with further regulation, medical tourism and telemedicine have the opportunity to go hand in hand– especially in this part of the world where we have very quality doctors and an inclusive tourism process. Instead of going through the troubles of getting visas to travel to Europe or the US, patients can come to the UAE, and then have their follow-up appointments from the comfort of their own home countries.”
This is, in effect, the future landscape that the Okadoc team is working to realize for themselves, and Benturquia says that the people he got on board his startup are the ones who deserve all the credit for it securing its latest round of funds. “For me personally, this shows that Okadoc has the right team of both investors and team members to make this a success, and solve a realworld problem,” Benturquia says. “This is not something I could have done all on my own, but a true testament to all the brilliant and passionate people involved. From a startup and long-term prospect standpoint, with the Series A announcement coming in, our partners and clients are now more confident. We are not going to disappear overnight. Our customers rely on the efficiency of our technology and delivering great patient experience. By raising such a huge amount of investment, we have proved that we can be trusted, and are on the right path of growth. At this level of investment for a Series A, I think what this shows is that the region is picking up in both the number and the scale of investments. Of course, it’s is much more difficult to raise money in this region, as compared to the US because the maturity levels are different. Further, this is a big sign for the healthtech industry, and the tech industry as a whole. I truly believe that this is going to be the decade of the healthtech industry.”