Marham, a healthtech startup based in Lahore, has secured $1 million in a seed round headed by Pakistan-focused Indus Valley Capital, the company announced on 3rd August, 2021. Weihan Liew, a Southeast Asian angel investor, is also a key participant in the round.
The health startup has grown its network to 20,000 doctors in 67 locations throughout Pakistan in the previous six years. Since its establishment, it claims to have assisted more than 10 million people who used its website to read doctor ratings, schedule appointments, get online consultations, or ask questions in its free Q&A forum.
What’s noteworthy is that the company has been able to reach all of these milestones despite operating on a shoestring budget. Marham has had a humble start but it has been able to self-sustain its operations, allowing them to expand without having to raise any external funds. This is the healthcare startup’s first external funding round. But why raise funds when you can keep developing by reinvesting profits in the company?
“There is a lot of work to be done to guarantee that patients receive speedier care and have a better experience. The delicate nature of the healthtech business makes expanding considerably more challenging than in other tech industries, given its influence on human lives. In an interview, Marham co-founder and CEO Ehsan Imam said, “Now is the moment to accelerate our growth and bring more of our vision to reality.”
How It All Began ..
According to the CEO, Ehsaan Imam, the idea of Marham application came to him while he was searching for a good consultant for his own father, when he was seriously ill. He realized, people relied solely on the word of mouth while searching and finally selecting a consultant. As he faced the difficulties of the process himself, he understood just what was needed to make the entire process hassle free and trustworthy.
Marham began as a doctor booking platform, allowing patients to make appointments with doctors at various hospitals across Pakistan, and was founded in 2015 by Ehsan Imam, Asma Omer, and Farwa Ali. It has subsequently grown into a healthcare platform that allows users to schedule online consultations with physicians and lab testing, as well as order medications, via its website or mobile applications.
It began as a Facebook forum, which quickly grew and advanced. There are now over 50,000 active members. People began to ask doctors questions about health concerns, and doctors began to answer. It opened the door for an online application and the establishment of a database of more than 10,000 doctors in 15 different locations with 18 different specialties, all of whom were certified by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council.
Marham During COVID-19
Teleconsultations now account for about half of Marham’s revenue. As more Pakistanis use online services, the firm expects its market share to rise. This has proven to be a very beneficial platform for patients in these challenging times since the during Covid19. Reaching out to a doctor or requesting an online consultation was made simple by their quick response and finest consultation procedure. They supplied their patients with the greatest alternatives available. Marham plans to expand its services to smaller cities and rural areas of Pakistan with the new funds. “Our vision is to build a healthcare ecosystem, for patients, doctors, and hospitals, to ensure faster care and better experience via technology, processes, and telemedicine-enabled micro-clinics across Pakistan,” said Ehsan in a statement. Asma Omer, Marham’s co-founder and COO, believes that Marham will be a game-changer for a developing country like Pakistan by making healthcare more accessible and affordable for the masses.
Image Source: The Express Tribune
The Way Forward
Marham was the first platform in Pakistan to allow people to search for physicians and schedule appointments with them online, but at least five other significant companies (Oladoc, Sehat Kahani, etc) have joined the market in the previous five years and acquired venture capital to help them develop. It reveals a lot about how open this industry is to change. Marham has the benefit of being the first to move in the industry. Ehsan said that due to our high traction and experience, we’ve optimized our processes to deliver services with the best quality processes and risk mitigation. There are many rivals in our business that can provide the same service; what matters most is who provides the greatest quality of service.
The company now employs over 80 people, with plans to add more people in various roles in the coming months.