Saurabh Arora, Founder & CEO, Lybrate, shares his experience as a entrepreneur and lays emphasis on facing challenges fearlessly
These are interesting times when environment for entrepreneurship in India has become so positive, like never before. But, what does it actually imply? This, perhaps, points to an economy which has a plethora of opportunities, which is open to embrace risk takers, provide all possible support to them in finding solutions to problems that are unique to India and let them contribute in the development of the country in their own way.
It is the very reason that a number of start-ups are mushrooming in almost every sector in India, trying to solve different problems. Being an entrepreneur today seems much easier compared with a few years back as anyone can take a plunge in the sea of opportunities available now, and always get back to doing things, in case things don’t turn out favourably.
While it is easy to decide to follow your heart and jump in the entrepreneurship fray, the journey is not a cakewalk. There are umpteen challenges when you choose to walk the path of your own. A fresh set of bottlenecks keep uncovering themselves in the course to follow. However, when the zest to fix a problem is deep within, then there is no stopping and looking back.
It was that passion to make healthcare available to the billion-plus population of India and solve the core issue of inaccessibility of doctors in the country that we decided to incept Lybrate, a platform that could seamlessly connect patients with doctors from anywhere, anytime.
Challenges encountered when starting up
When we started, we were amply clear about the problem we were there to fix, but a lot of things were mired in confusion as we either did not have the capability to do certain things initially on our own, or we were not able to find the right approach to do things.
Finding right people: The formidable challenge was to find the first person to rest his faith in the vision we had and join us, leaving his stable and secure job. Finding those first few people was a herculean task and most of the initial hiring happened through referrals only. It is a continuous endeavour to find passionate and smart people who believe in the idea of Lybrate of making healthcare accessible to all.
Finding initial users: It is difficult to find the initial users who could give constructive feedback. And when it is about someone’s health, it gets all the more sensitive. Given Lybrate is an online doctor consultation app, there is an initial hitch in people about using it, for we all have the ingrained notion that a visit to a doctor and physical examination is a must if we are not well. Breaking that perceived notion and bringing people online to consult doctors is a task. But when people use the Lybrate platform and see value in it, they come back to use it again. Today, more than five million interactions between patients and doctors happen on the Lybrate platform and that bears testimony to what Lybrate has to offer.
Finding right product market fit: A new product needs a lot of iterations and improvement over time to fit into the needs of users. To arrive at a product that serves the multifarious requirements of the vast audience is a continuous process and an uphill task. We have to learn from the changing user behaviour and improve the product as per market feasibility. Finding the market fit isn’t easy:
- Slow technology adoption: The Lybrate platform is meant for doctors and people. All one requires to use it is an Internet connection and a smartphone. However, technology adoption in healthcare has been slow in India. Hence, creating awareness is the primary thing to let people know how the platform will make healthcare communication and delivery seamless, for both doctors and users. This has to be done continuously and consistently.
- Product that caters to varied needs: A product that is for the masses has to fulfil the different requirements. So, while we have created a product that enables doctors and users to talk, the product needs regular upgradation to justify the ever-changing, distinct preferences of users and make the communication process absolutely seamless. In the beginning, Lybrate app allowed communication via text only. But, we later introduced audio and video features after seeing users preferred those modes too. Likewise, Lybrate’s unique Health Feed, which consists of health tips that are posted by doctors themselves, has undergone changes over time to let users have customised feeds as per their interest and preference.
Lybrate’s recently launched feature, Lybrate Lab+, was introduced when we realised that over 70 per cent people left their treatment mid-way because of the requirement for lab tests. Users now can easily book a lab test suggested by the doctor during an online consult from any of our trusted lab partners, and even do so otherwise. The samples are picked up from the location and time that suit the users and reports are shared with the doctor and user automatically. Now, the process of online doctor consultation on Lybrate reaches a logical conclusion without getting the loop broken. This entire process did not happen in a day. Be it noted that we had to be on our toes to understand what all was required to satisfy the user or push him to take his health seriously. And this still continues, making us to regularly upgrade the platform to make the process convenient, user friendly and smooth for users.
- Building solutions that drive revenues: A company has to work on solutions that bring in revenues. Until people find value in the services, they are not willing to shell out money for using them. This is never an easy thing to do. It needs sustained efforts to build those solutions that users find worth spending for.
No matter, how big the challenges are, to be doing things that makes you believe that you are making a difference and working for a cause is very satisfying. This is what encourages and pushes you to overcome the bottlenecks and stay focused on the goal. With Lybrate, we have democratised Indian healthcare. We aim to make healthcare accessible to the billion-plus population of India and solve the core problem of doctor shortage in the country which is greatly compounding accessibility issues. We are driven by this passion to realise our vision, slowly but steadily.
Don’t worry about making mistakes and challenge the status quo
There are multiple start-ups like Lybrate that are working to address different problems plaguing the country. The risk takers know the problem they want to fix and are good at doing certain things. But doing everything, and doing everything right is not possible. Mistakes are a part of any entrepreneur’s journey. What is important is to learn from them faster and not repeat the same mistakes.
When we began Lybrate, we went door-to-door to rope in doctors on our platform, as that was the established norm. Soon we realised that doing so was not scalable. We then invested in product and technology to make it feasible for doctors to register themselves on Lybrate. We followed suit of others initially. But when we found that out to be obstructive, we did not hesitate to challenge it and do something that wasn’t done before. It is all about learning from mistakes and be brave to challenge the status quo.
What should be kept in mind?
There is nothing like pursuing your passion and trying to make a difference. There are something that should always be kept in mind:
- Do your research and establish clear need before building a solution
- Be thrifty while building solutions in early stages
- Have a good team; focus on quality not quantity
- Have mentors that can stop you from making bad decisions
- Solve a real need and exploit a business opportunity instead of starting up for the sake of it
During your very first investment, either from friends, family members or early stage investor, there’s no business, there is not even a proven need and neither a proof that people will use the product. All bets are on you and the passion that you execute. You are the product, you are the business and if you are not passionate enough, then the other person will see through it. Your hundred per cent commitment hence is of supreme importance before you approach an investor. You have to be all in with or without investment. You can take feedback on your idea. But you can’t seek funding without committing to yourself first, and before others commit their dollars to you.
It is never easy to take the path less travelled. But if you are sure of the goal you want to attain, the path itself becomes a direction. In a nutshell, this is what an entrepreneur’s journey is all about. Challenging, yet gratifying.