How I Started a
Health Tech Business
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, I’m Akshay Singh, I am a final year med student in Mumbai, India and founder and CEO at CareMarq.
CareMarq is a tech driven healthcare platform which connects patients immediately with hundreds of healthcare providers including doctors, pathologists, psychiatrists, Physiotherapists and veterinary doctors.
CareMarq functions as a teleconsulting healthcare platform that provides patients realtime access to all varieties of specialists within cancer/oncology care and experts within a few moments.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
Being a medical student and also a patient in my late childhood, I got this wonderful opportunity to explore both sides of the healthcare chain. I am fond of reading autobiographies and listening to podcasts of established people in any field. Personally I am a huge fan of Elon Musk, how he changed space exploration for always without having any degree in rocket or aeronautical engineering.
So the doctors are becoming more smart and precise, governments are spending more percentage of GDP every year to build more healthcare facilities including hospitals, primary health care centres and trauma centres, but there is a significant problem arising all around the world the appointments are getting late , waiting time is continuously increasing, the Doctor to patient time per consultation/session is decreasing significantly.
In India, two people having the same disease may get different types of handling in our healthcare network depending upon who they are, where they are located (urban/rural) and their socio-economic status. I have a thought to change this very segment in the Indian healthcare system so the motivation for CareMarq arose from there.
We didn’t start CareMarq inspiring from a political perspective or healthcare perspective. We have experienced the pain and frustration of being a patient, somehow wanted to help them by making appointments easier, continued free follow up by the doctors, instantly or same day medicine delivery and free home collection of blood samples for diagnostic tests.
I am very passionate to change our healthcare culture for good, while reading an article based on ‘digitalization of healthcare’, the idea of CareMarq was born. I quickly realised that CareMarq can be the most important and most meaningful opportunity in my professional life.
‘CAREMARQ’ is a little hard to pronounce but it holds a very interesting history behind its name. The word ‘marc/mark’- taken from roman god of war and warriors, the word ‘Q’ comes from international code-Q used for first-ever radiotelegraph (wireless) also from ‘SQL’- the programming language used for data management – the very heart of our platform. so giving rise to the meaning of the word caremarq as – ‘tech-driven digital care warriors.’
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
90% of startups fail just because of financial unavailability so yes our first concern is finance to this date because there is a need to secure one to one encrypted video calling software to prevent any breach in patients data and ensuring hassle free service from us.
The other major issue we have to tackle now ‘is your startup needed in the market ?’. Despite having fabulous and fantastic ideas some startups die soon as they fail to attract investors and customers as well.
All bigger and established hospital chains in india have their own online platforms, there are 3 well established multi millions dollars startups present in teleconsultation services in indian market and numerous small subsidiaries for them.
But our ability to connect with doctors of choice, hurdle free and easy services, transparent policies and partnerships from different healthcare service providers making the way for our startup in this cut throat era of startups.
We are thankful to our users who put trust in our services and methods and are making us grow by being our brand ambassador in society, which helps us to gain more patients in the community.
Who is your target market?
Our primary targeted market is the youth of India as they are the world’s leading consumer of data and smartphone users. Then, the patients living in rural areas of the country who are not meeting their expectations in our healthcare systems.
We have a very diverse user market including offices, workplaces, some mills and organisations and of course individuals who want to experience modern-day healthcare.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
We will never use paid promotion or advertisement- as this alters the decision making capabilities of our users. Sticking to our mission our only goal is to provide the best quality care to the Caremarq user not minting money by misguiding our users as many startups do.
We use social media marketing very extensively as it has great potential to reach millions of people. Caremarq makes health awareness auto interviews video by our healthcare specialists and experts, which serves not only as promotional content but also very helpful for the listeners in daily life including how to check and identify symptoms of various diseases, primary action to be taken, prevention and management of chronic disease conditions etc.
We have very strong support from Indian youth community as this startup also includes 90% youth members ( 26 year olds and younger).
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
The way we connect patients with a variety of specialists and provide them with an instantaneous consultation or other services including pathological testing, medicine delivery , medicine reminder, symptom checker. We also provide a one week free follow up by the doctor once paid for a single session – this leaves impressive impacts in our user’s mind and lives.
We don’t actually put extensive efforts to attract users as our previous users itself promote us by being our brand ambassadors.
Within limited resources, we are trying our best to meet the requirements of our users every single time they use our services.
We keep connected to our users and service providers via emails and text messages.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
Organizational culture has a profound influence on both the strategic planning process and the overall success of an organization.
In my company the culture can be called ‘the resilient culture’- we are flexible enough to adapt quickly to external market shifts, yet steadfastly focus on our values and ethics which are aligned to strategy to help our users the most.
Most of the team members are my friends or known acquaintances. So there is a very informal and friendly work culture in our company. The benefits of not being ‘bossy’ are you get to know some genuinely complicated issues which have to be resolved and very detail orientated information about anything as members are comfortable around you.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
Talking scientifically we only exchange data from patients to doctors, users to service providers and vice versa so SQL- programming language can be called as our very heart of this platform.
We have developed newly built one to one encrypted safe video calling software just like Whatsapp and some subsidiary softwares used to manage and store databases from users and service providers.
Currently we are using a paid AI software made in the UK as a symptom checker but soon going to replace it with our own machine learning software .
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
I have learnt 2 important lessons being an entrepreneur.
Success comes to only those people who try better and put in more work than I do. The more success that occurs in my life, the more happy coincidences occur, and the more I realize that I achieve.
Don’t be afraid to take risks. If you don’t take risks at all, you aren’t going to be able to achieve the level of success that you want to achieve in your business. Yes try to avoid some stupid risks by figuring out things yourself.
Talking about mistakes I realised the power of sales very late. Sales is such a magical skill to learn for each entrepreneur as it not only deals with the ‘sell’ part but also allows to convey your idea with others, improves your communication skills and learning to perform as a team.
I will suggest every future entrepreneur to study and practice about sales as it has tremendous magical abilities to teach you behavioural life lessons.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
My favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur is solving problems and putting smiles on the face of people. At times it comes with reward, sometimes with appreciation. That is joy for me.
I am not a successful entrepreneur yet I am on the journey on being an entrepreneur so I will not talk much about this in detail.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I work hard and study harder, longer and longer. Continually setting the bar of success higher to world class experience. Sometimes I set myself up to failure. Every time I fail, I start questioning my self worth the future bid for this startup.
Whenever I receive a complaint, perhaps a bad review and I take this as a personal attack. It drains my energy to the point of exhaustion and regardless of how hard I am trying to make something significant for the user.
It switches me off for some time, then I try to solve the matter again on priority level 1 to avoid the same again in future.
(The secret is less sleep and no social life or engagements.)
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
I am very fond of reading books. I feel lucky sometimes that i have this passion and reading books helps me understand literally everything as I lack social and communication skills as a person.
So here are some books I will love to share with my fellow readers:
- Zero to One by Peter Thiel
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
- Rework by Jason Fried & David Hansson
- The Entrepreneur Mind by Kevin D. Johnson
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- Dhandho Investor – Mohnish Pabrai
- The $100 Startup by Chris Gillebeau
- Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future Book by Ashlee Vance
- Rocket Man: Elon Musk In His Own Words
- Last but not least ,my all-time favourite – Bhagavad Gita
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
We are partnered with all4cure to provide best healthcare for patients suffering from hematological cancers. We are also partners with a California-based startup in a pilot project of our joint venture to make high tech experience in teleconsultation services and are in talks with Notable labs to make our services better by learning some microscopic concepts in these types of startups .
Our startup is soon going to allied with insurance providers and health claims providers so that patients/users can use our services instantly and the payments or settlement part taken care by these insurance companies.
This will help in revolutionizing the user experience on our platform.
On a final note, I am thankful to the Founder Facts team who gave me a lovely opportunity to share my experience in this startup journey. Wishing good luck to you and your team!