Link Copied
Ananth Narayanan, CEO and Co-founder, MedlifeMedlife
The brand is working on hyper-local digital content to reach out to its consumers while also using Radio and BTL activi...

Medlife hopes to achieve 100% growth by the end of this financial year, will take its diagnostics offering to 50 cities within the next 24 months

The brand is working on hyper-local digital content to reach out to its consumers while also using Radio and BTL activi...
  • Medlife is currently witnessing an 8% month-on-month growth and hopes to achieve 100% year-on-year growth over last year.
  • It will continue to focus on digital marketing, and come up with hyper-local personalized content to target consumers.
  • Medlife is looking at almost doubling its consumer base from last year’s 1.5 million to 2.5 million this year.

It’s been about three months since Ananth Narayanan, former CEO of Myntra and Jabong came on board as the Co-founder and CEO of Bengaluru-based health-tech company Medlife. Since then, Narayanan has focused on coming up with strategies to scale up the business, always keeping the consumer at the core.

Founded in 2014 by Tushar Kumar and Prashant Singh, Medlife, which started out being an online medicine delivery platform has today diversified its offering to diagnostics and online consultations.

The company is currently witnessing an 8% month-on-month growth and hopes to achieve 100% year-on-year growth over last year. It is also looking at expanding its diagnostics presence across 50 cities within the next 24 months.

In a recent conversation, Narayanan told us that Medlife’s marketing strategy would revolve around coming up with hyper-local digital content to target different areas in the cities they launch and will back that up with BTL as well as Radio. “However, our aim would be to do a 360 degree surround for our consumers. When they think of healthcare, Medlife should be the first port of call for them,” says Narayanan.

Edited excerpts:

Q) From growing Myntra in the fashion e-commerce space to now growing Medlife in the online healthcare space, how has the journey been so far?
I am a consumer-backed person and look for large markets to play in. Both Myntra and Medlife are a $100 billion market, however in India, access, consumer journey and having standardized processes and procedures to make healthcare simple is a problem. So it felt like a very large problem to solve. Medlife started four years ago and is in the process of solving at least two or three of these problems. I met the founders Tushar and Prashant at that time, and it felt like we're very complementary. While Tushar played more of a strategy role, Prashant and I went on to run the business. It seemed like a good idea to come together and see if we could scale it. My vision for Medlife is to build it into a trusted brand partner and serve all the healthcare needs of the 100 million plus Indians, by keeping technology at the core.

Since you joined Medlife, what have your areas of focus been?

There have been three to four focus key focus areas for me. The first is to improve consumer experience. We’ve launched a new react native app and have reduced the lead time for delivery. We're scaling Express which is our two-hour delivery service in eight cities. So consumers have been a big focus. Secondly, we need to make the business sustainable. In the next six to eight months, we want to reach unit economics breakeven, which means at the unit level, we don't lose money anymore. Once we achieve that, we can scale as much or as little as we want. Thirdly, there’s a continued focus on ramping up the team. We already have a terrific team of 400 people but are working on strengthening it further. We want to strengthen the tech, product and the operation side of the team. Also, we're a very small part of a very large business and our aim is to sustain a healthy growth.

What kind of growth has Medlife been witnessing?

Today, the online penetration of health is less than 2%. We want to grow 8% month-on-month. By the end of this year, we'll have a 100% year-on-year growth over last year. It looks like we will be ahead of our original plan for the year.

Have you set a target for yourself, in terms of Medlife’s growth?
In the next five years, I want to be 10X of what I am today. And if we continue to see 100% growth year-on-year, we will easily reach there. Also, I want to be able to serve multi-million customers.

By when do you expect Medlife to become a profit-making entity?

The key milestone is unit economics. Hopefully, as I said, six to eight months from now, we'll get there. And after that, it's really a matter of choice as to when you want to become profitable.

How big is your consumer base right now and what kind of growth are you seeing in that regard?

Last year, we served 1.5 million customers, and we continue to grow. This year, we will serve 2.5 million customers.

Since you have diversified to diagnostics and consultation, which segments are performing the best for you?

We started out being a medicine delivery platform and that's still 85-87% of the business and still growing rapidly. But that gives us a large customer base to do diagnostics with. Diagnostic is a newer business which we started about a year ago and is growing very fast for us, the unit economics are already profitable. On the online consultation front, we have about 1,500 doctors on board and again, that number is growing rapidly too. In terms of growth, medicine delivery is growing at 6-7% and the other two are growing in double digits month-on-month.

How have you built the consumer’s trust on your platform?
In the businesses we operate in, the way to build trust is by sticking to your promise. We measure a lot on NPS and consumer experience. We work hard to ensure that we deliver whatever we commit to the customer. We are also very careful about quality, whether it's our medicines, diagnostic test results or the consultations. We do a lot of checks, tech-driven and otherwise, that allow us to make sure that the quality of our offering is great.

Your vision is to turn Medlife into an e-health provider. Can you expand on that?
Our aim is to own the consumer journey and provide them with everything they need. Today, we may be into medicine delivery, diagnostics and consultation but there are many other things that the customer actually wants. They want home healthcare, primary and secondary care and health insurance. We don't intend to do all of this but we’re trying to partner with the ecosystem to provide customers all of these offerings.

What are your strategies to grow your market share and expand reach?
Like I said, the current penetration is 2% and we have 10x growth ahead of us. We’ve built a good supply chain network. We have over 40 fulfillment centers all over. Extending the supply chain is one way of penetrating the market. The second is continuing to reach people through digital marketing. And the third is by starting to expose them to the multiple services that we actually offer. There are roughly 62 million online transacting customers in India today and we only serve 2 million, so there’s a huge opportunity.

Are your consumers primarily from the metro cities?
The age range of our customers is between 26 and 86, so it's a much broader range than e-commerce. Secondly, about 60% of our consumers are from the top 30 cities and 40% come from beyond.

Medlife has made some strategic acquisitions with MedLabz and Myra. Are more acquisitions on the cards?
We will continue to do strategic acquisitions. We acquired MedLabz when we realized diagnostic is important for us. Express delivery was an important capability. The market today has chronic needs and acute needs. Acute needs account for roughly half the market, but you need to be able to supply within one to two hours. That's why we acquired Myra. So we will keep looking for capabilities to buy.

How will be your broad marketing strategy going ahead?
The healthcare space works micro-market by micro-market. So we look at 10 parts of Mumbai as 10 different markets. We think of personalizing the digital marketing in each of these areas very differently. We will also do Radio and BTL to get to our consumers. But the key is to start doing a 360 degree marketing around the customer so that Medlife becomes a part of their lives. Medlife needs to be the first port of call for them, whenever they think of health needs and that’s what we're trying to establish. Our brand proposition is, ‘Health comes home’.

Where do you want to see Medlife in the next few years?
There's still a lot of scale left to be had in the medicine delivery side of business. We want to expand our Express rapidly. We are offering diagnostics in 20 cities currently, we'd love to be in 40-50 cities. So we'll scale it up in the next 24 months. Thirdly, we will also work on creating personal online consultation into a paid consultation service, not just a complimentary one.

Where do you anticipate the next phase of growth for Medlife will come from?
We will grow with deeper penetration in the current cities that we’re in. I believe that in all the big cities that we're in for pharma, labs will start to become big. Medicine delivery will expand beyond the top 30 cities and we're starting to think about supply chain infrastructure beyond the top 30 cities.