Meet Shanthi Mathur a first-generation entrepreneur. With her unique startup PrimedeQ she is disrupting the way medical equipment is purchased, sold, repaired, maintained and even disposed-off, in India.
Shanthi is an MBA (Finance) and Engineer with close to twenty years of experience in Healthcare, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and financial services domains with leading organizations like IBM, Max Healthcare, ICICI, Asian Heart Institute and Hewitt Associates.
In a Tete a Tete with WinningStree, she tells us more about her startup and gives us insights into the medical industry. She also says running a startup successfully dents work-life balance. However, with grown-up children, Shanthi finds it easier to cull more time for PrimedeQ, which she feels is a work-in-progress.
1. Who Are You and How Are You In to What You Do?
I am a management professional in the healthcare domain for the past two decades. I have worked with organizations like Max Healthcare, Asian Heart Institute, IBM India, Vaatsalya Healthcare and others in senior positions. Working with Vaatsalya Healthcare exposed me to difficulties faced by hospitals in smaller locations in servicing their medical equipment or limited access to affordable refurbished or used equipment options.
6 years back a colleague of mine called up about a hospital who wanted to sell all its equipment just two-years after starting, since they couldn’t get enough business. They had very few offers, hardly recovering 40% of the cost. I could not help them at that time, but eventually heard that they sold the whole lot for less than 1/3rd the cost after holding on for another two-years and incurring more losses.
When hospitals want to sell equipment they get a bad deal because their access to potential buyers is extremely limited. The same is true when hospitals want to buy used equipment – they know may be a few agents and have to pay much higher. What if selling and buying hospitals could easily find each other in a large network? Both would get a more profitable deal. What if the same network could help find a service provider when the machine is down?
I thought if Flipkart, Amazon, OLX, Cars24 etc. could do similar things using e-commerce technology; why not create a platform dedicated to medical equipment.
2. Tell Us About Your Journey?
Once the idea was germinated, Dr Sakshi Khandelwal my colleague and I developed the design of the portal and execution plan to get it started off. The difficult part was getting co-founders from the medical equipment domain. I met with many ex-colleagues from IBM who earlier worked at GE, Siemens etc. and through common connections met with Mr, Achudhan Mani. He has himself considered the concept of an e-Marketplace for medical equipment before and immediately joined us.
We started our operations in Apr 2017. The last two years have been a roller-coaster ride with quite a few ups and downs. Good news is that we have succeeded in building a very strong online presence, coming up often on first few pages for several relevant searches.
We have close to 2500 registered customers (approx. 20% of South India market) and done business with 100+ customers in 38 different towns across the 5 Southern States. More than 30% are repeat customers. 7-8% of our enquiries are from overseas. Plan for the next 2 years is to improve penetration in the regions we operate and augment our range of equipment & Spares.
3. Why PrimedeQ of all Initiatives?
Why PrimedeQ? Well, I have never shied away from difficult problems. How could I let an opportunity pass where I can do something disruptive and transform the way medical equipment are sold, purchased and serviced? The medical equipment after-markets is highly unorganized and we have a pressing need to organize and establish new standards in this area.
4. What are your future plans with PrimedeQ?
There is a lot to be done. We already have presence in the 5 Southern Indian states which constitute 1/3rd of India market. Our short-medium term plan is to improve our penetration and increase market share. We will be focusing on enhancing range of product offerings, improve expertise in key areas. We are soon launching a mobile App as well as online Auction facility. We will be offering equipment valuation and purchase decision support online in the medium term. Our longer term plans are to be #1 expert-Marketplace in the whole India/South Asia region.
5. Difficulties you faced while fulfilling your dreams or aspirations?
Difficulties are always there, no matter what you attempt. We are boot-strapped. We are still struggling in some ways. We are looking for co-founders especially from the Sales and equipment servicing backgrounds. We have built generic expertise in-house and a decent network of sellers and service providers. However we now need to step-it-up to grow further.
6. What was a WinningStree Moment For You?
When we hit our first 100 customers mark within 15 months! To me it was a strong validation of our concept.
7. Winning Message To Other Strees?
- If you have an idea you are convinced about, there is no better time than starting now. Start today.
- By the way, if you were anxious about the kind of problems you will face when you started, you bet you will face several others kinds, you had not even thought of. Just don’t give up.
- It Is tougher for women entrepreneurs. But there are always a few people who support, both men and women. That’s all that matters. Have conviction in yourselves, be grateful to people who support, build on your good work and just go ahead and make it happen.
8. What is your favorite quote that you believe in?
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
Thomas Alva Edison
As a founder, what keeps me sleepless at night is fear of missing out on opportunities either for lack of knowledge, right people, skills and talent or simply costly delays. We have a great concept, tremendous opportunities – strongly validated by the target customer in the last two-years. However, scaling up is a different challenge. When things are not going good the above quote is what keeps me going.
9. Where can you be reached?
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Linkedin profile and Twitter handle are as follows: –
Shanthi is surely on the go to transform buying and selling in medical industry. Through PrimedeQ, Shanthi has successfully integrated a large, fragmented market of medical and hospital equipment and is making it possible for hospitals to get medical equipment at a reasonable cost, as well as get a decent price for their unused hospital equipment.
More power to you Shanthi!
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