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Innovaccer co-founder Abhinav Shashank on the big goals beyond unicorn valuations

Innovaccer co-founder Abhinav Shashank on the big goals beyond unicorn valuations
Innovaccer co-founders (L-R) Sandeep Gupta, Abhinav Shashank, and Kanav Hasija   |  Photo Credit: Innovaccer
11 Mar, 2021

Last month, San Francisco, California based Innovaccer became the latest India born startup to join the global league of technology unicorns at a valuation of $1.3 billion, on the back of a $105 million funding round led by Tiger Global Management. While most startups would celebrate the milestone as a sort of coming of age, Innovaccer co-founder and CEO Abhinav Shashank believes the firm is just getting started. 

And, he already has some big goals lined up. 

To begin with, he wants to scale the 25 million patients currently on the Innovaccer Health Cloud platform to 1 billion globally. “If we execute well, hopefully, this basically becomes a $100 billion (market capitalisation) company... Healthcare is a space where you can create a vertical cloud software company that could be massive, because there is none...” Shashank said in an interview with TechCircle

The company, he said, is currently growing 100% year-on-year and will most likely hit $100 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) around the end of 2021.

Innovaccer Health Cloud is a software-as-a-solution (SaaS) solution that helps connect healthcare data across multiple systems and settings, to provide unified patient records through the data activation platform. 

To achieve the goals articulated earlier, Shashank said the company will invest significantly in two main operations -- research and development and a 5X expansion of its go-to-market teams globally. It currently operates out of four offices in the US and India and employs 600 people. 

Even as North America houses 95% of its business globally, the company does not categorise its growth plans in terms of venturing into new markets. It currently has small pockets of business in non-US geographies such as the Middle East, and Europe. In India, it has so far worked with governments of Goa and Puducherry. 

The reason Innovaccer continues to primarily service the US markets is because the country has been a massive outlier in terms of how technology has evolved.  

“For our systems to really work, in general, you need some amount of data to already exist. It becomes easier for us to play in markets where some bit of data has already been captured,” Shashank said 

Innovaccer’s sprouting years can be traced back to the second and third years of engineering for co-founders Shashank and Kanav Hasija at alma mater IIT Kharagpur.  

“We were doing this Kharagpur Consulting Group (KCG) project, where we were trying to see if you can create a consulting group of professors across the country and drive academia-industry collaborations. We just weren't ever able to figure out a financial model around it,” Shashank said.  

Post university, Shashank went on to work at Ingersoll-Rand to formulate the industrial manufacturing giant’s white paper on its newfound strategy to make “for India by India,” in 2011-12. 

“And it ended up kind of being like an intelligence suite of air conditioning and device systems that were intelligent and were streaming data to the cloud. It was an incredible experience, especially for someone who was 21-22 years old, to see how you can basically draw something out on paper, and then convert that into some bit of like a product, and in three years, generate $50-$60 million dollars of revenue out of it, right?” Shashank said. 

The subsequent years got Shashank and team thinking on whether they could generate value from data, themselves.

“There was this professor at the Wharton School, professor Prithwiraj Choudhury, who was doing a collaborative research project with Harvard on how to build a common platform on which we can do research, etcetera. It was not a technological problem. They were just trying to really share data, but what we ended up doing was basically building up a platform where people can put information to drive faster innovation,” Shashank said. 

Soon, 65 of the 100 top research institutes, including organisations such as Harvard, Stanford, and MIT, began to use the platform. All professors across the world put data at one place to drive research and innovation.  

“This is what the company actually came up to be like. Innovation accelerator merged into one term Innovaccer… We were doing it more out of academic curiosity.” 

Shashank and his team soon realised that innovation was not just an academic problem. Companies had been collecting a treasure trove of data, and not a lot of that was being used to drive innovation in business processes, real-time. 

“People put all kinds of fancy dashboards. But they're not changing business processes with it,” he said.  

In August-September of 2014, Shashank and Hasija set up a company after they realised that they wanted to build out a technology platform for large enterprises that could bring in a lot of their data and drive further workflow innovation on top of the platform.  

The founders raised $3 million in seed capital from former Google India chief Rajan Anandan and others and started traveling back and forth between India and the US. “We started selling to Fortune 500 companies. And it was fun, especially like 24-25 year olds going into rooms and selling technologies, and competing with pretty much the world's best… We basically rammed up revenue into multiple millions of dollars within the first couple of years or so,” Shashank said.  

In 2016, the startup raised the first tranche of Series A capital from venture capital firms including WestBridge Capital – it has raised a total of $225 million till date -- well in time for its product-market fit pivot.  

“What we realised was that if we did this pretty horizontally, for all industries, we will not be able to build out a platform which truly defines an industry. And so, in mid 2015-early 2016, we pivoted and started thinking about healthcare,” Shashank said. 

Currently, the company, Shashank said, has some of the largest health care organisations systems across the world asking for a unified cloud platform. After it onboarded the first couple of customers in the space, it completely shut the rest of its business. 

“Right now, we build cloud software that helps doctors. The next step of this is to see how doctors and insurers can really collaborate on top of the platform… How do we kind of then bring in life sciences companies, and pharma companies to do clinical trials on top of the same platform?” he added.