How I Started a One-stop
Solution to Just About Anything
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Yashodhan Bhatt, Founder & CEO at Bios India. Bios is a unique brand which integrates a variety of services on one single platform.
Our services include medical consultation, laboratory testing, nursing, ambulance services, deep cleaning, pest control, disinfection, laundry and on-demand delivery – yes, that’s a long list. Apart from this, we also provide healthcare related products at wholesale prices.
We are providing these services in Mumbai, and are looking to expand them in other regions in a phase wise manner.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
I am a 22 year old MBBS student at KEM Hospital, Mumbai and worked with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai for 10 months during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
I am a stock market enthusiast and love music so much that I have constantly been learning new instruments since I was a child. You may find me playing the tabla or drums on some days, and jamming to the loud tunes of the electric guitar on another. I find peace in music, and it is the perfect getaway for me. Business and innovation had always interested me and I had thought of creating an all-in-one platform a few years back.
I realised that the consumer services market lacked integration, and if it was present, it lacked a blend of quality and affordability. I am not saying others are not doing this, but I thought it could be done better and could be more inclusive.
Apart from this, I also realised the lack of integration between healthcare and non-healthcare services. They seem different, but are often interrelated. I decided to do a detailed market study of various services, and tried to find the best business model possible for making them work, while ensuring scalability.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
The challenges started right from the time I thought of starting Bios. My family was concerned about me being able to manage my academics along with my startup, and the concern wasn’t wrong. But this was just the start.
Since we are completely bootstrapped, it is imperative to follow a strict and effective budget. This also meant that we couldn’t invest much in marketing in the start (although we have been able to do so in the past 2 months!)
We provide a wide range of services and it is really important to have tailor-made business models for each one of them. My team and I did a thorough market research and formulated the best possible models for each service, so that there is no compromise in the quality and price while ensuring the profitability and scalability of each service.
We have been facing stiff competition from well set players for each service, but have been able to tackle that by competitive pricing and low profit margins.
I faced some problems in understanding the technical aspects of our website in the start, but I was able to bridge the gap after doing thorough research.
Who is your target market?
We have a wide range of clients – both in the retail as well as corporate segment.
Our retail client could be anyone looking for a service we offer – from young college students to retired people. Our healthcare segment generally has older clients.
Bios corporate clients include those who want to avail AMC’s or bulk contracts and those who need to outsource certain services. We also associate with several housing societies for disinfection service contracts. Our on-demand delivery services are being used by some cloud kitchens for their delivery needs.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
Due to a limited budget, we started off with passive marketing via word of mouth. Our clientele included personal contacts and businesses we approached directly via emails or calls. I was surprised by the response we received – it was much more than we had projected. This led to our focus on scaling the existing services as well as adding more services.
We have now set up a dedicated marketing team. I still feel we can do much better when it comes to marketing. There are many more things I have in mind which I would like to execute, one of them being using SEM to increase the leads we get for each service.
We have social media pages set up but we are not generating many leads through these platforms yet.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
Our USP has always been the quality of services we provide. We have also kept a minimal profit margin to make the price competitive and attractive. The services we offer are often interrelated. We find clients who have availed deep cleaning calling us to pick their laundry the next day. The integration we provide is something clients like.
We don’t expect a client to come to us again for the same service. What we focus on is pitching other services to the client which makes them aware of what they can avail.
We ensure we seek feedback from every client, and I personally look into these to improvise the services. I have realised how important feedback is for a startup. It often acts as an additional quality control for the service. We have received some feedback from clients which has changed the way we operate few of our services.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
We started off during the COVID-19 pandemic and had adopted a work-from-home system. We regularly meet physically or virtually to discuss and brainstorm.
I have tried to keep a barrier-free communication system. As I said, feedback is really important, be it from customers or from staff. I like to individually connect with the field staff as well to understand what challenges they face and to get their inputs. A lot of times, I am impressed by the amazing inputs they give, which can sometimes help the brand in a huge way.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
We have built a custom PHP website with a backend panel that performs a lot of operations for us. It keeps records of all the leads and auto-generates invoices. It also keeps a track of subscribers and users.
A few weeks back I started using a website called Refrens.com for generating quotations. It is a very useful and sophisticated tool that I recommend startups to use. We are using Cash Free as the payment gateway for online payments and really like the simplicity of their interface.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
I have realised that no business can start with the perfect business model from day one. Improvisation is the key to a successful startup.
If I were to start Bios today, I would have done a lot of things differently. The first one would be creating a strong and standard brand package. We were so focused on the operations and expansion, that we delayed the branding. I feel the customer retention would be more powerful if we had that in place earlier.
I have also realised the importance of being a jack of all trades. As a startup, it is very difficult to hire people for each speciality. The budget doesn’t permit you to do so. It becomes imperative to know about the various processes in a business.
The pace of expansion we had was almost perfect. We made sure we didn’t hurry and try to do everything at once. This made sure we made each service perfect for our customers.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
As cliche as it may sound, freedom is my favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur. The freedom to innovate and improvise is something I would always want. Through Bios, I can solve the problems which I feel need attention. I enjoy the dynamics which comes with this job. It feels great when you can put your thoughts into action.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I think anyone would want to see results of what they would do as soon as possible. As a startup, it takes time to attain the projected results and perseverance and patience is the key. I have come to peace with the fact that nothing is certain. Things may not go as planned, but hard hardwork and perseverance will definitely yield results.
I have absolutely no complaints, I love every single aspect of being an entrepreneur.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
As I mentioned, it is very important to be a jack of all trades. And this is possible by collecting as much data as you can. I keep watching YouTube videos on various topics, be it finance or technology. There is no specific channel I would recommend, but you have to be cautious with what data to actually use.
You will get a tremendous amount of data from books, videos and podcasts. But this data has to be processed and wisely converted into information.
I have realised that there is usually no right or wrong answer. One book may tell you how to work hard, while another may tell you how to not work hard and work smart. Both aren’t wrong. We just need to effectively process the data which we collect.
Some books I recommend are:
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
- High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard
- The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
We are hoping to scale our business to other cities in the next one year and are looking to create a more sophisticated online platform that is even more user-friendly and intuitive.
We are constantly trying to add more services on our platform to make our range of services wider.