By @Connectvj –Interview with Nipun Goyal, Co-founder at Curofy
We interviewed him to know in-depth about him & CUROFY. This is the 6th Interview of our Startup Showcase Series.
Curofy is a social networking platform for doctors ensuring seamless communication and collaboration. It is a comprehensive platform for every doctor’s need for keeping themselves updated with the latest in the medical world.
Curofy encourages peer-to-peer collaboration in learning and solving cases to help them keep up to date with the latest in the medical world. Primarily, Curofy is a platform for interaction and knowledge exchange among doctors in a spam-free environment.
It is also a comprehensive platform for every doctor’s need for keeping themselves updated with the latest in the medical world. With a strong verification process, Curofy keeps the sanity of platform intact.
It has imbibed a great sense of trust among doctors from different parts of India.
What lead you to build Curofy? How did the idea come up?
Coming from a Marwari family, I was always intrigued by the way a business functions. In the final year of my college days, I led a team of more than 200 people to expand an online college start-up across India through social media marketing, which triggered my entrepreneurial side and motivated me to start something of my own.
Towards the end of my final year during a midnight coffee-break, I discussed the idea of starting a new venture with my co-founders and everybody seemed to have thumbs up for the same.
We initially started working in the healthcare sector with a medical tourism company. The business was lucrative and offered good margins too. As we were performing our job of bringing overseas patients to India, we figured out a bigger problem on which the medical tourism industry was thriving upon the connectivity among doctors was lacking and it was highly inefficient.
It was then that we dropped that business, took jobs with MNCs and continued research about the concept of medical networking in India. Till May 2014, we met more than 1,000 doctors and the need was evident and made us trust our path even more.
With such a unique and new concept, what difficulties and challenges did you encounter in the beginning?
We faced various challenges and difficulties in the beginning, to name a few-
- Approaching doctors: One cannot think of approaching a doctor easily if he is not a patient. Doctors are so busy in general that they would hardly be available to meet anyone for using and understanding the demo of any application. Curofy team actually spent hours in queues to meet the doctors for 5 minutes and explain the features of their application.
- Tech Aversion: There has always been a low acceptance rate from the entire community of doctors when it comes to social networking. Technology being one of the major obstacles, Curofy still managed to convince 1000 doctors to download the application and start discussing the cases.
- Word of mouth: The effect of coordinated care is one of the vital most factors behind the acceptance of this app. It was highly time-consuming and equally difficult to convince the first 1000 doctors. Once those 1000 doctors from various specialties started using the app, it became quite popular among the doctors’ community through word of mouth.
- Spam free and close community: Another biggest hurdle faced by Curofy was to keep the application spam free. Moreover, doctors also prefer to share their experiences and knowledge only with other verified doctors. Hence, from keeping a check on verification processes to making the community spam free, Curofy does all to help doctors solve their cases in a much professional and closed way.
How do you see healthcare sector evolving over time?
Before the advancements in Technology, Indian healthcare sector was considered as one of the most under-penetrated sectors. It was lagging behind other verticals. But today, technology has become one vital part of everybody’s life and there has been a rapid shift towards digitization in the Indian Healthcare scenario which can transform the everyday functioning of multi-specialty hospitals, doctors and every physician living in remote areas as well.
Healthcare sector has become one of the largest sectors in India. It is consistently growing at a rate of 15% is expected to touch $250 billion by 2020.
Based on your fundraising experience, what advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are raising capital for the first time?
Curofy has been very lucky to have great mentors and supportive investors. One of the advice I always give to entrepreneurs is to build a product first that has good traction among the target audience and then look to raise. This is especially true for post angel rounds. It is also helpful if you have the luxury of choosing your investor.
Though it will not be the case with most of the startups, still it is wise to be raise funds from VCs or investors who have sound knowledge, experience and most importantly, focus towards the industry you are operating in. This ensures that you not only get the money but also helps you gain mentors.
Also, aim to stay lean and hence raise only the amount of money you need. This ensures that less amount of your stocks is diluted and you have control of your own company.
The startup scene has changed dramatically over the past few years especially in India. What have been the key factors that have driven its evolution?
The Golden Age for start-ups in India has well and truly arrived, and India is witnessing its talent for entrepreneurship like never before. Entrepreneurs are coming up with new ideas which are disrupting the existing business models and investors are lining up to provide much needed financial backup and mentoring, to take these budding startups and build them into successful companies.
India is a vibrant economy and the certain push towards entrepreneurship by the government is a welcome change bringing a lot of stigmas related to starting up to standstill. With a favorable environment coupled with the pool of talent waiting in the wings, its no wonder India is all set to become a global leader in entrepreneurship.
What’s next for the company? What are Curofy’s most immediate challenges and goals?
Curofy will continue to empower doctors to save as many lives as possible by coordinating with each other on difficult cases and doing timely referrals. We also envision the mobile app to be the digital world for doctors and attain a space where everything that a doctor does on the phone will be through Curofy.
With its constant behavior changing approach, Curofy will open up new avenues for digital health by increasing online activities by doctors.
Our first and foremost priority is to create engagement amongst doctors in India, and further target to reach out to over 70 percent of 1.5 million Indian doctors in the next couple of years. While penetrating deeply in the Indian doctor community is a core focus, with time we will also expand globally with the help of local channel partners.
Did the experience that you gained professionally, before launching this startup helped in making Curofy what it is today?
We initially started working in the healthcare sector with a medical tourism company. The business was lucrative and offered good margins too. As we were performing our job of bringing overseas patients to India, we figured out a bigger problem on which the medical tourism industry was thriving upon — the connectivity among doctors was lacking and it was highly inefficient.
Then, we dropped the business, took jobs with MNCs and continued research about the concept of medical networking in India. Later, in May 2014, we met more than 1,000 doctors and it helped us for a good comeback.
A question we ask everyone, What advice would you like to give the entrepreneurs planning to launch their own startup?
I won’t get into MVPs, critical mass of users etc. You already know it.
Patience is the biggest attribute for any successful venture. There is going to be a lot of rejection and vicious competition at the beginning, but one has to focus on solving the problems genuinely and not just find ways to monetize the venture.
Remember, if you are solving a problem, you will succeed. It might be today or a few days down the line.
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