In conversation with Dr. Manuj Garg, Co-Founder, myUpchar

One of the major challenges in scaling up is the non-availability of high-speed internet, which hinders the adoption of new technological advancements in the sector.

1. Please tell us about myUpchar, what does it do?

myUpchar is India’s fastest growing health start-up, it was co-founded by Stanford University alumni Rajat Garg and I. Both of us have previously worked at Amazon and Boston Consulting Group, among other leading global firms.

Currently, serves five crore people every month. We create extremely high-quality healthcare content in Indian languages. Case in point: Our new mental health podcast MindU which is available across platforms in Hinglish.

Each month, 10 lakh of our visitors seek teleconsultations and other medical services (such as medicine delivery via our e-pharmacy plus our pharmacy network, and lab tests), which we provide anytime and anywhere across India. The company is backed by some of the biggest institutional and individual investors in the country.

2. How did you come up with the idea of starting myUpchar?

myUpchar was born out of Rajat’s previous startup, Shimply, which was an e-commerce platform for quintessentially Indian goods. That website, as all others at the time, was in English. One fine day, they converted the Ayurveda section into Hindi. Entirely unexpectedly, just the Hindi Ayurveda section rapidly became 50% of Shimply’s total business.

By this time, I had returned to India as well. Rajat and I have known each other since 2004 when we were students at Stanford University - bumped into each other at an event and started talking about this. One thing led to another, and myUpchar was born in November 2016 to serve millions of Indians who had come online recently, but neither had access to medical services, nor medical information since they were comfortable with their mother tongues only.

3. Can you please share details on how your platform/ service works?

People come to our platform to seek medical information in Indian languages, which really is not available anywhere. Additionally, all the content on our platform is created with or by doctors and other medical experts.

4. How did you build your core team when you initially started myUpchar?

We were a very small team for our first year and a half - less than 10 - but managed to reach a stage where 10 million people were visiting our website each month!

A couple of the key people joined us from Shimply. Others - experienced and young - joined us along the way and have stayed and grown with us! The leadership team comprises handpicked people referred by the founders’ network. All of them have a common passion to build something that has the potential to impact hundreds of millions of lives.

5. What has been the growth in terms of revenue, traction and growth from the date of inception till now?

Traffic to our website and app has grown to 20M visitors per month and views on our video content across Youtube, Facebook and other channels crossed 30M views per month. We have doubled our web/app traffic by 2x in the last 6 months and video views have grown 4x during the same time.

We get over 3L consultation requests every month. We continue to see a solid growth MOM in the consultation demand. We started efforts around monetization late last year and now make several million dollars in revenue.

6. What is the one thing that sets you apart from your competitors and how?

90% of myUpchar’s users come from Tier 2, 3, 4 Indian cities and beyond - now commonly called “Bharat” in tech circles. There is little competition for us in terms of the user segment we serve. Most, if not all, big healthtech startups are focused on serving Tier 1 customers.

Besides our focus on Bharat users, our high-quality content, and the fact that we have been able to keep consultations free of cost for patients also sets up apart.

7. What were the challenges of setting up and scale and how did you overcome them?

One of the major challenges has been to get the first time internet users from tier 2, 3, 4 to trust you with their healthcare needs. Trust has built up over time as our users see our relentless focus on quality, and it is bearing rich dividends now. Our users are consuming our content, relying on our free consultation services by quality doctors, and placing orders.

One of the major challenges in scaling up is the non-availability of high-speed internet, which hinders the adoption of new technological advancements in the sector. This also impedes users’ ability to use online payment methods. Additionally, users have limited ability to pay and there is a hesitation in making payments online, especially for healthcare-related products. Most of our users have heard of Paytm but not of other payment options. In 70% cases, they have not done any online transaction in the previous six months (internal survey done in Jan 2020).

8. What are your plans for the future for myUpchar?

myUpchar plans to scale our content creation in more languages and in the different formats so that everyone in India has access. Along with it, given our growth rate, we expect to serve 100K consultations/day in the next 12 months.

To serve these many consultations in a day, it requires heavy investment in the product and technology, as well as scaling up our medical teams to ensure quality and positive health outcomes for the patient.

Our investment in AI products related to diagnosis suggestions to doctors, prescription suggestions are already yielding high doctor efficiency. We will make more investments in data sciences to enhance the productivity of our doctors.

We will significantly expand the footprint of our partnerships with pharmacies and labs, which will allow us to serve anyone anywhere within hours.

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