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Startup Saturday: Crowdfunding platform ImpactGuru.com simplifies healthcare financing

With the cost of healthcare shooting up, Piyush Jain, co-founder, ImpactGuru.com tweaks crowdfunding, fintech for a social cause

pune Updated: Apr 08, 2019 16:49 IST
Namita Shibad
Namita Shibad
Hindustan Times, Pune
Piyush Jain, co-founder, CEO ImpactGuru.com
Piyush Jain, co-founder, CEO ImpactGuru.com (HT/PHOTO)
         

For Pappu Sharma a waiter, organising Rs 21 lakhs for his son’s kidney transplant was impossible but last year he logged on to ImpactGuru.com’s platform and in just 15 hours, he raised the money. For Deeksheet, his mother’s life would have slipped away had he not raised Rs15 lakhs required for her rectal prolapse surgery from the platform. Probably no one realises the value of money better than the relatives of a patient battling for life in a hospital. In Pappu and Deeksheet‘ s cases, it was the difference between life and death.

With the cost of healthcare shooting up, Piyush Jain, a young student at Harvard, wondered what could be done to help solve this money problem.

“At Harvard University, I was exposed to crowdfunding and social impact bonds. Influenced by the course of study there, I presented a paper on crowdfunding and how it can solve developmental problems in India. I felt crowdfunding and fintech could be tweaked for a social cause,” he said. The paper presented by Jain gained momentum and the desire led him to start a fintech company along with Khusboo Jain to make healthcare more affordable via crowdfunding. The company was incubated at Harvard innovation lab in 2014. 

“Healthcare crowdfunding is an alternative method of raising funds online for medical expenses, with the patient (or his/her friends or family) primarily relying on social media networks to mobilise donors to finance the relevant medical bills,” said Piyush Jain.

To ensure that only genuine cases get funds, ImpactGuru follows a standard operating procedure. “We ask for the hospital’s estimation letter for each patient and we transfer the raised money directly to the hospital,” he said. Initially when the duo set up ImpactGuru.com, the going was slow. Piyush said, “Internet entrepreneurship is tough. We had very few customers, two years back. So our mentor Harvard professor Ramana nanda advised us to be patient and pivot. When we started it was essentially to help NGOs raise funds. Now not only can people raise funds for an illness but we have also had a documentary filmmaker use our platform to raise funds. We started pitching to investors and raised USD $0.5 million/ Rs3.3 crores from a Venture Capital fund. We raised investment funding on live TV on India’s TV show on entrepreneurship CNBC TV18’s Young Turks. The business turned around.

“Ours is a highly scalable, asset light, transparent revenue model. When we started, we bootstrapped with our own funds. Later in 2016, we raised Rs 3.3 crore in Seed round from RB Investments Pvt Ltd (Singapore VC Fund) in April 2016. In April last year we raised an additional ₹15 crore.” Currently ImpactGuru does not post any profits, “but by the year-end, we should be able to break even.”

Jain wishes that crowdfunding become mainstream in India. He wants to expand the service to hospitals in Tier 1 cities and gradually expand to Tier 2 cities. “In terms of markets, we want to be focused in India but we are looking opportunistically in other markets specifically the Middle East because of some recent investments from there. Our focus is to be focused on healthcare crowdfunding which is a proven concept in the US, UK as well as China. We want to be Asia’s largest healthcare crowdfunding platform excluding China. We are on a mission to make healthcare accessible to all,” he said.

First Published: Mar 30, 2019 14:42 IST

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