Healthcare is one such segment in India where accessibility is an issue. It is not about affordability all the time, rather accessibility is a concern. Not only in rural areas, but also in urban areas, getting the right medicine at the right time is a major concern for most. In fact, it has become a alibi where the shopkeeper assures, “We will get the medicine by the end of this week.” Bengaluru based chemical engineer Arpan Debasis has come up with a solution in this regard. Arpan and his friend Rahul Vidyarthi have pioneered a dedicated health startup Medicento, which is presently working to bridge the gap.
Founded by Arpan Debasis and his friend Rahul Vidyarthi, Medicento is a single point of contact for retailers and helps them keep inventory up to date. Medicento is registered under the name Mediclick Healthcare Services Private Limited, Bangalore.
Arpan Debasis was a chemical engineering student at MSRIT, Bangalore, from Odisha. He lost his father to an illness. The year was 2011, and he decided to bring about a change so that no other lives are lost due to the lack of medical facilities and difficulty in procuring medicines and homecare services. Medicento became a dream come true for him which delivers medicinal requirements to pharmacies, such that customers can obtain those easily.
In his words, Arpan says, “Building Medicento took time. After graduation, I worked with Zuari Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd. in Goa and later, in the UAE. I also worked at an online marketplace for cars as sales head. However, the desire to start up was strong, and soon connected with my long-time friend, Rahul Vidyarthi, a computer science engineer & post-graduate in Applied Statistics who worked in digital marketing. Our idea back then was simple – consumers need medicines, and retailers need customers; let’s connect them. With an investment of Rs 20 lakh we began our journey”.
Medicento began with a B2C model — the users could send a prescription on WhatsApp, and the start-up delivered medicines in three hours. In fact, Medicento provided 10% discounted prices by collaborating with retailers.
“Since hospitals don’t offer discounts on medicines, we went to hospitals to canvass patients in the first year. We also went to restaurants and temples to talk to potential customers, especially the elderly. We put up posters in front of hospitals, giving our number. We even ended up being thrown out from some hospitals for talking to their customers about us,” remembers Arpan regarding his early days with Medicento.
With time, Medicento chose to replace the B2C model with a B2B type. Medicento app now acts as a single point of contact for retailers, who otherwise have to approach multiple distributors with their notes on essential inventory.
Nonetheless, big distributors showed little interest in Medicento, which could provide them business only for around Rs 20,000, while retailers could offer business worth Rs 1 crore and above.
The founding duo decided to on-board smaller distributors, aiming to be a one-stop supplier for pharmacy stores. They automated the process of collecting data with an app instead of distributors’ salesmen going to pharmacies to collect data from retailers. The retailers just need to upload their inventory; Medicento takes care of the rest. At present, Medicento revenue comes from the commission of the distributor partners.
Medicento is a team of eight people, across product, operations, and marketing. Since the attrition rate is high among delivery staff, the team has leased bikes and trained two delivery boys, who even went on to on-board more pharmacy stores. Deliveries happen in two slots daily. Added to that, Team Medicento is working on Micro delivery Hubs.
Medicento is in the process of building a foundation with pharmacies. Once we have more than a thousand retailers on our network, we can approach brands directly. At present, Medicento has 300 pharmacies, and about 3,000 orders per month. In the coming months, the startup has plans to expand to four more major cities.
The start-up has come up with more ways to generate revenues. They are also planning to sell the complete ERP system to pharmacies, and sell actual consumption data to manufacturers. In fact, Arpan and his team have a plan to monetise through ads on their app, as well as share space in their warehouses.
Medicento is now in talks to raise funds from VCs. The core team of the team is closely analysing unit economics and making major amendments at the ground level, which can later define an absolute growth trajectory. The primary focus is increasing the order size per pharmacy and be the sole supplier for a pharmacy.
Medicento currently provides only patented medicines (from brands like Cipla, Abbot, etc.). Generic medicines and equipment are also in the pipeline but the start-up aims to strengthen and organise the supply of patented medicines first. Arpan mentions, “Patented medicines always have a demand, which acts as an added advantage to on-board retailers and they are our primary customers.
Currently, Medicento is jointly working with IIT Madras and IIT Kanpur for product development. The team is mentored by Rabnawaz Sheikh, Founder of Ataura Business Centre in Bengaluru. Although Medicento competes with Pune-based Pharmarack and Bengaluru-based Retalio, the network of pharmacies gives the start-up a competitive edge over others. Medicento has a pull-based mechanism (retailer-centric) which provides an end-to-end solution.
Team Optimist wishes all the best to Arpan and Medicento.