Bhalla, Your Story
Delhi, 12 February 2016
Agarwal, 25, lived in a nuclear family in Varanasi. When it was
time for him to leave for his higher studies in Allahabad, he
had one concern: "Once I went for my higher education, I
was always concerned, what if someone in my family got sick, who
would take care of their health needs? Back then I didnt
have a solution."
His anxiety grew when he moved further away to Delhi in July
2012 to study for his MBA. But, it was there that he was hit by
the e-commerce bug, prompting him to find a solution to deliver
medicines to peoples homes.
While the idea of starting up was successfully seeded, he roped
in his school friend Arpit Sarin, 25, who was already working
on a few social entrepreneurship ideas, to work with him. Aditya
says, Back then we were job seekers. We didnt know
we could build a company. So it was a very big opportunity for
But real inspiration struck in December, that same year, when
Aditya and Arpit went on Jagriti Yatra, a train ride across India
to shape the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. "We came across all
those people who had their own startups and were just like us.
They were young with no money and experience, but they did start
working on their idea and they did it. This gave us
the confidence. We just knew one thing; there exists a problem
that needs to be solved."
From knocking on doors
The duo launched their product in 2013; today, their platform,
Dawailelo, aims to be a complete healthcare solution where medicines
are delivered to the doorstep of needy customers. The platform
also lists doctors details and connects customers to pathology
labs to get samples collected and reports delivered conveniently
to their homes.
Aditya still remembers the hot summer afternoons when he and
Arpit wandered the streets of Varanasi to survey 2,000 households
and understand the real problems surrounding the regular supply
Today, the platform has served 1,100 unique customers in Varanasi
alone, while catering to 500 orders every month from the city,
60 per cent of whom are repeat customers.
Last month, they expanded their operations to Panipat in Haryana.
In their first week of operations, they already had 35 unique
customers; completing more than 40 deliveries at stretch.
In the next six to eight months, the startup aims to set up shop
across six cities in Haryana including Kurukshetra, Karnal, Sonipat,
According to the founders, their main focus is on patients with
chronic diseases (diabetes and arthritis), who comprise 85 per
cent of their consumer base. These clients have regular prescriptions
and require medicines throughout the month.
When asked, the founders say that customers with acute medical
conditions (like common cold or diarrhea) dont form a big
chunk of their consumers since their requirement is limited, and
they avail Dawailelos services only once or twice. Moreover,
it is easy for them to source these medicines at a local pharmacy;
for chronic patients in Tier II cities, medication isnt
always available in local pharmacies.
Aditya believes that stickiness and loyalty are big factors in
their ventures success in Tier II cities.
to avenues opening
The firm states that they strictly work on physical prescriptions
where the delivery-in-charge will pick up the prescription from
the customer and deliver the medicines by the next morning or
the same day.
There is also an automated feature built in to the app, which
allows customers to get medicines delivered without having to
go through the whole process again.
As of now, all transactions are made in cash as it is easier
in Tier II cities. Moreover, the firm is also working on the digitalisation
of healthcare and a cashless programme where
the requests would either be taken directly from doctors or verified
by doctors before delivery, reducing delivery time and giving
the option to make payments online.
Although the firm claims that bookings can be made through their
app, website or through calling their helpline, the website is
not yet functional and is undergoing some final checks before
being rolled out.
Further, the firm has a partner pharmacy in every successive
10 km radius, to facilitate better deliveries. When asked why
they dont want to make the platform a marketplace, the co-founders
tell us that it would be difficult for them to monitor each and
every pharmacy leading to a compromise on trust and quality of
On the revenue front, since Dawailelo follows the bulk model,
they are allowed some margin from their partner pharmacies, of
which 10 per cent is given to customers in the form of discounts,
while the other 10-12 per cent goes to the firm. The average ticket
size of each order received is Rs 1,000.
In the future, one can also expect the platform to have details
and information on doctors, helping customers make appointments.
In the coming few months, the firm also plans to roll out their
app on iOs along with their website.
The firm has also already raised capital from angel investors
and is actively looking for their next round of funding.
Of learnings and impact
Talking about the journey, the co-founders feel it has been a
roller coaster ride, fraught with perils. They say,
There were times when things were not smooth, but the feeling
of working on our own startup has given us the strength to fight
every obstacle. We have taken coaching classes, raised funds from
our close ones to realise our dreams and have started believing
that everything happens for good as they take shape.
The duo tells us that it is overwhelming to see the change solutions
bring to the lives of customers.It is so touching to see
how a simple solution changes someones world. One of our
customers husbands is a paralytic, whom she cannot leave
behind to buy medicines. Today, she saves herself the embarrassment
of asking everyone to get her the medicines. Our starting up seems
to find meaning through her story.
There is no doubt that the startups decision to function
in Tier II cities is an incredible one. The healthcare services
market in these cities is still unorganised, with people going
by what their neighbours and relatives say, rather than a doctors
Moreover, according to a report from IBEF, Tier II cities are
the next demand source of the future, as 70 per cent of the population
lives there. This can also be proved by the fact that for bigger
healthcare startups like Practo, 30 per cent of the traffic last
year was from Tier II and Tier III cities. While raising $37.5
million in Series B in September 2015, Portea is also making its
presence felt in Tier II cities. Companies like Gurgaon-based
Pluss are also operating in the similar space of on-demand healthcare
and wellness deliveries.
The investor interest is also flaring up, (with $276.5 million
invested in startups last year) and bigger players pushing to
get into these markets
However, a matter of concern for the company should be scale,
considering how bigger players with fuller pockets are ramping
up their presence in Tier II cities. Moreover, as Dawailelo is
in the hyperlocal delivery space, another trouble brewing on Tier
II startups is the lack of sufficient funding.
Shan M Hanif, Co-founder of online grocery store Kada, say that
despite being the only player in Kerala with Tier II and III focus,
raising Series A has been tough. In another
story, Devangshu Dutta, Chief Executive at Third Eyesight
management consultancy said that over the last year, investors
have become skittish about pouring funds into businesses that
have no demonstrable path-to-profit.
This explains why Tier I cities are a top-favorite for most healthcare
or hyperlocal startups to show traction and profitability in order
to attract investments. With such dynamics brewing, we will have
to see whether Dawailelos expansion to other Tier II cities
will really project a scale to attract investments.
(Published in Your