Tejbir Singh was so sure of his product and its scope that he approached VC firm Kalaari Capital for funding even before launching his startup. He hasn't looked backed since - and there has been no pivot or modification to his original idea either.
"We kept building on top of the original product," says Singh, co-founder of Affordplan, a fintech startup which aims to make healthcare services accessible through planned savings for non-emergency treatments.
Singh started Affordplan along with his former TaxiForSure colleague Hemal Bhatt colleague in October 2015. Kalaari was impressed with their pitch and made the startup part of its KStart incubator, which entailed funding of Rs 3 crore.
Delhi-based Affordplan has come a long way since then. It has reached more than one lakh patients and facilitated 10,000 operations through its platform.
And last month, the firm raised Series B funding of $10 million (Rs 65 crore) from investors including Lok Capital and Omidyar Network.
Scope of operation
The company works with hospitals to get in touch with patients who are unable to afford treatment. He said that the majority of the hospitals in the country have less than 100 beds and poor infrastructure, and the patients who turn up at these institutions often do not have insurance policies or sufficient savings.
The idea is to enable them to plan, save and pay for non-emergency surgeries such as childbirth, dental, eyecare and cosmetic procedures.
These individuals are then referred to Affordplan's savings scheme, in which the platform collects payments from patients on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Patients make periodic deposits and there is no one-time payment.
The money is kept in an escrow account and transferred to the hospital before the surgery takes place. The cost of these surgeries typically range between Rs 30,000 to Rs 4 lakh depending.
While Affordplan takes a small commission, it also helps the patients negotiate a better rate with hospitals, which could be up to 20% discount. It claims to take away the hassles of interest payment, annual premium or claims.
"We provide a software-as-a-service (SaaS) to the hospitals to manage the record of patients and the money being collected on their behalf," says Singh.
Hospitals are assured of patients who subscribe to Affordplan's savings scheme as people return to the facility after a fixed tenure, thereby providing visibility on future revenue.
While the venture is a for-profit company, its ability to provide affordable healthcare to the middle class has attracted investors including Prime Venture Partners, given that it targets uninsured families who earn between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 10 lakh a year.
Singh says technology is key to Affordplan's operations.
"The tech platform also helps us create customised savings solutions according to the patients' income or the preferred mode of payment, which could be app-based powered by wallets to internet banking or UPI or even as cash at the hospitals," he says.
Singh says that two-and-a-half years after starting operations, Affordplan is breaking even per unit.
In the financial year 2016-17, the company posted revenues of Rs 75 lakh and net losses of Rs 1.5 crore.
"We are looking at profitability in 24 months and this [April's Series B] funding will suffice till then," says Singh.
The company plans to use the fresh capital to expand its reach from 300 partners hospitals at present to 1,500 by the end of this year. With most of these partners in Delhi-NCR, Singh said Affordplan is looking to ramp up its presence other Tier-1 cities.
Affordplan is also looking to work with diagnostic centres, insurance players and online pharmacies in the future.