With a user base of 1,20,000 doctors, Curofy, wants to build itself into the LinkedIn for doctors – helping them share knowledge on cases, engage with pharmaceutical & medical device companies and even apply for medical jobs.
It’s no secret that doctors enjoy the company of their peers; be it in a professional or social setting. Nipun Goyal, Pawan Gupta and Mudit Vijayvergiya furthered this insight into a business idea by establishing a mobile platform for doctors. Curofy, which began as a website but was revamped to be a mobile application based on feedback from over 1,000 doctors, launched on the play store in February 2015. Even before the idea for Curofy came about, the trio had dabbled in medical tourism, but found that it was not a business that interested them as much. “As we were figuring it out, one thing that struck us about the healthcare industry was that the cost of establishing a connection was significantly high,” says Goyal. The founders proceeded to chase a business idea where the objective was to reduce that cost of connection and thus, Curofy came into being. The process of discovery also highlighted a key fact, while every company in the industry wants to establish a digital connection, doctors are not available online. “Be it patients, pharmaceutical or device companies, everybody has to come see a doctor offline,” states Goyal. This led the company to its first challenge, driving doctors to embrace the digital medium. Today, there are over 1,20,000 doctors on board the Curofy platform.
The first step for Curofy was to ensure the relevance of information to doctors on its platform. “Over 70 per cent of the communication that a doctor receives is spam and we had to make sure that our offering was relevant and not something they would waste time on,” explains Goyal. At this point, he candidly admits that doctors still use apps such as Whatsapp for their simplicity. What is missing though is the ability to be selective in choosing whom to communicate, with as just about anyone can ping a doctor on these apps. The selling point for Curofy to doctors is three prong; it reduces your spam, you can process only relevant information and save time and finally, you can connect with just your colleagues or fellow doctors whose opinion you value. Clearly, doctors see the value in this proposition as Curofy’s numbers have gone from an average of 10 doctors signing up on a daily basis in 2015, to nearly 2,500 in a day, in the recent times. “In the initial days, we were actively pursuing sales by meeting as many doctors as we could but today, over 60 per cent of our acquisitions happen organically,” says Goyal. The struggle was to get doctors to break past their inertia and switch to Curofy as a default platform. “It took us some time to get on to Curofy but once we communicated the benefits of the platform, they have been quick to adopt it,” states Goyal.
Interestingly, he speaks of the skew that the team is seeing with nearly 78 per cent of the app’s users being from Tier-II and Tier-III regions. “Doctors that practice in these towns miss the corporate ecosystem that is available to doctors that practice in the metropolitan cities. Here, having a support system, including medical administration support, becomes all the more important,” he says while adding that in India, 85 per cent of the doctors that practice falls in this category.
Case in point
As a company, Curofy is singularly focused on providing as much value as it can to doctors and as seen on the app, several doctors value the case discussions that take place. “One of the major needs that doctors have besides increasing earning capacity is a thirst for knowledge and they are truly knowledge workers,” says Goyal. Curofy facilitates an easy flow of this knowledge without compromising on the sensitive nature of the information being discussed. The company takes care to ensure that information on its platform is secure and patient identity is kept under wraps even while doctors exchange ideas on case studies. “We are in the process of building a tool that auto detects the face of the patient and hides the same and hope to add this to the app by the next quarter,” shares Goyal.
While knowledge is one need, enhancing reputation is another. Curofy allows doctors to address this as well and the best examples are of those doctors who operate in more remote places across the country. Sometimes, doctors in these regions have answers to specific problems that leave lead super specialists puzzled and when they share the same, they are heralded as heroes. “We have gamified reputation by creating a voting mechanism where doctors can rate responses based on how helpful they were. We have also created a leader board for the same which keeps doctors motivated to contribute,” adds Goyal.
While the endeavour is to bring more doctors online and build a sizable network, Curofy is steadily working on means to monetise the platform. “We do events with pharmaceutical and medical devices companies where we see a value for doctors. In the event of a new drug release, we help with educating doctors, in a way, complementing the medical representative folks by presenting the company with a ready target audience,” says Goyal. He elaborates that even for medical events, the initial reach can be routed through Curofy.
In this month, the company is launching Curofy for Medical Devices, a platform which helps doctors fulfil their resource requirement needs. On this platform, doctors post queries and distributors can bid for the same wherein the doctor is notified by email and can choose to accept or decline the bid. On acceptance, the distributor gets the contact details of the doctor at a fixed commission rate.
In the event of a new drug release, we help the pharmaceutical company reach a readymade target audience of doctors
Of note, Goyal shares that there is constant monitoring of the platform to ensure there is streamlining of information to suit relevant and trending needs of doctors. He attributes this to be one of the main reasons for the company to have scaled its user base. This apart, Curofy has had access to the right resources to make the necessary tweaks to its app, as and when required. “We have a solid team of nearly 20 engineers working on the technology platform while a team of five doctors, including one super specialist, constantly evaluate the app and provide feedback to us,” says Goyal.
Several of the company’s decisions are data driven including its marketing efforts. Curofy has engaged in digital campaigns and mobile marketing to drive its user base. “For instance, if you take our mobile campaigns, we evaluate the ROI on each SMS that we send out to doctors and only persist with the ones that have a proven track record,” says Goyal.
As Goyal outlines the company’s plans for the future, he fondly recalls its maiden tryst with fund raising through a televised reality programme titled ‘TiEtheKnot’ (2014) where Curofy raised close to a crore from seven reputed investors. While these investors continue to stay invested in the company, in September 2015, Curofy has received a pre-Series A round from U.S.-based RoundGlass which greatly helped in establishing and expanding individual technology teams within the company and marketing initiatives. With a pipeline in place, now is the time, for Curofy to create a deeper foothold in the industry. Goyal shares that over the next two years, the company aims to have on board over 50 per cent of the practicing doctors in India and the focus will continue to be on constant and absolute engagement. This, in turn, will help the company forge meaningful and profitable relationships with the healthcare industry in India.
Founders: Nipun Goyal, Pawan Gupta and Mudit Vijayvergiya
Industry: App for doctors to create a network and engage with pharma & medical device companies