After the invention of various medicinal drugs, doctors have been able to treat the untreatable and give new life to the diseased. While these magic bullets changed the face of therapy all across the world, they have proved to be annihilating for many in Pakistan. Fake medicines, medicines with wrong composition or active ingredients have taken the lives of hundreds of people in our country. One of the biggest stories concerning this case took place in January 2012, when over 100 patients lost their lives after taking counterfeit antihypertensive drugs at a local hospital.
Considering this dire situation, Apothecare (Pvt) Ltd in line of its vision of providing quality healthcare services came up with “Sehat”. Sehat aims to ensure the accessibility of genuine medicines to the people in Pakistan. They launched their operations in April 2015 and have served more than 10,000 customers. Sehat is run by the 4th generation of the Fazal Din Pharmacies group who have over 60 years of experience in the healthcare industry. The founding members of Sehat are the sons of Mr. Nadeem Ahmed Mumtaz. The CEO of the company is his eldest son,
Startup.pk talked with the marketing and business development head of Sehat,
Q: Hi Bilal, please tell us about your background and the story of your startup Sehat. Is it your family legacy of working in healthcare sector which continued or did you particularly identify some problems that pushed you towards the foundation of Sehat?
A: Actually both the factors played a vital role. I have studied Finance and Marketing from Canada. After my studies I came back to Pakistan in Dec 2013. Our long affiliation with the healthcare industry has made us aware of the problems prevailing in this sector. Our local population lacks the access to authentic medicines, medicines being wrongly issued by the companies, lack of checking prescriptions while selling them etc. We came across cases of corruption and mismanagement of pharmaceutical companies as well. Sehat was born for the people of Pakistan, with a vision to solve these problems. It’s an initiative to enable development in the healthcare sector through technology We started R&D for Sehat two years back i.e. in 2011. It was launched after my return to Pakistan.
Q: How do you ensure that all the drugs are authentic and original?
A: We supply our medicines directly from the manufacturer; we are directly linked with the Fazal Din Pharmacies groups who have over 60 years of experience in the pharmaceuticals. We are licensed for the delivery of medicines as well. Sehat is known among its customers for providing quality medicines.
Q: In which locations do you provide your delivery services?
A:We cater to 300 locations in Pakistanwhich includes metropolitan cities, small cities and suburbs as well.
Q: Who takes care of the logistics of your company?
Q: Why do you have two courier partners?
A: Leopard provides comparative prices whereas TCS provides delivery of cold chain items. Some medicinal products need to be stored and shipped at lower than ambient temperatures to assure their quality and efficacy. These are referred to as “cold chain products”. We want to ensure the best quality to our customers so the maintenance of cold storage items is really important. We have a whole department for ensuring the cold storage of medicines; it’s headed by one of my brothers, Yusuf Mumtaz. It’s made sure that these cold chain products are maintained at 2-8 degrees Celsius from warehouse to the customers doorsteps.
Q: Which cities have the highest customer percentage?
A: As with most of the e-commerce businesses 70% of our customers are from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
Q: What do you do if a medicine is deficient in the market?
A: We have pharmacists who recommend an alternative to the particular medicine but only with the consultation of with a doctor. Usually at pharmacies you will see pharmacists recommending medicines on their own. At Sehat we make sure every medicine delivered is rightly recommended.
At Sehat, those patients who are suffering from a chronic health condition can schedule their medicines delivery over the period of weeks and months.
Q: What is the procedure of ordering from your e-store and how do you verify prescriptions?
A: Customers are required to make an account and order the medicine after showing the prescription to us. To verify the prescription we have classified the prescriptions as: 1. Prescription relaxed medications and 2. Narcotics
The first one includes general medicines, which cannot be abused by the users. For these prescriptions we call the relevant doctor and confirm whether he has actually prescribed these medicines or not. For the later, as the case is much sensitive we verify the doctors PMDC number and then do further dealing.
Q: If a particular medicine is easily available at a pharmacy, do you think our people will be willing to buy medicines online?
A: It’s all about providing convenience and quality service. I think when people will get to learn about Sehat, they will be more likely to avail our services. There are 3 major things that I would like to highlight about Sehat which make us stand out; we have a warehouse facility for storing the medicines. Usually our pharmacies do not have this facility and in hot temp there is no proper storage for medicines under which their temp can be optimally maintained. Secondly, our service of scheduling the medicine delivery and thirdly our relationship with the medicine manufacturer as I have highlighted earlier
Q: Have you received any complaints from your customers?
A: Initially, we had some complaints about the damage of medicines during delivery so we looked into this matter and consulted our courier partners. We have worked to improve this operation. Now, we have reduced the number of such complaints to a large extent. In such cases, we refund the money to the customers Sehat account, this credit is stored in their account. They can either have the medicine replaced or can use that store credit later on to order medicines.
Q: What is the revenue channel? Are the medicines sold at a higher cost than they are available at market?
A: No, we take a minimal share in the delivery of medicines. The revenue sources are our our online pharmacy and home vaccination service
Q: What is the marketing strategy for booming sales from Sehat?
A: We rely on personal referrals, our experience in the healthcare industry, social media, and our partners have helped us in this regard.
Sehat won the award for the best startup in the healthcare category at Startup Expo 2016 and was appreciated by Telenor CEO, Michael Foley.Q: What were the initial challenges faced by the company?
A: We struggled with safe delivery of medicines and setting the digital payment method. Now, we have several payment methods i.e. credit card system, easypaisa, online banking, and COD services.
Q: How do you stand out from your competitors?
A: What sets us apart from the rest is (1) nationwide delivery (2) multiple payment partners home vaccination options (3) store credit and order scheduling options (4) notable corporate clientele which have enabled us to strengthen our service and (5) partnerships with reputable brands enabling us to be their exclusive distributors and most importantly.
Q: What are your future goals regarding Sehat?
A: We intend to expand in different cities and have more localized operations. We are also working on seeking partnerships with healthcare institutions. We have partnered with an app called Kidlr. We may increase the product line to include baby care and beauty care products as well. Our app will also be launched in the near future.
In the future, Sehat will provide homeopathic and weight loss consultancy. For homeopathic service we have teamed up with Dr. Samir in Lahore. For weight loss consultancy we have partnered with Dr. Shella Akram from FitFibre. Fitfibre’s weight loss pills are already available on the website. The pills contain FDA approved substance, Glucomannan.