In this segment, FreshStart conducts an interview of Nadir Mumtaz, CEO of Sehat, an online pharmacy with immense potential to become the “one-stop shop” for medicines for Pakistanis.
1. How did you envision Sehat?
My family has been involved heavily in the pharmaceutical industry of Pakistan since 1948. With the success of e-commerce worldwide, we thought it was time to bring the Pakistani pharmaceutical industry into the online space. Intense research and development for the project began in 2012, and the website (sehat.com.pk) was finally launched in 2014.
Sehat is a one-stop shop for purchasing medicines online. From the day we launched, we have been offering nationwide delivery of our products to more than 300 locations in Pakistan
2. Describe your founding team?
We required a diverse team to handle the different aspects of the business. We found excellent people to fill the roles in Supply Chain, Warehouse, IT, as well as Pharmacists for technical expertise. We are five brothers and each one of us contributed by heading up a division and establishing the SOPs of that division.
3. When did Sehat officially launch? Did it take intensive R&D to bring this product to life?
Sehat officially launched on the 23rd of April, 2014. It took two years of research and development before the website was launched. We decided to hire an ex-LUMS professor to lead the research and development phase of our project, in which
a) More than 300 households and 90 retail pharmacies in Lahore were surveyed
b) Deliveries and shipments were tested out through our courier partners (namely for temperature sensitive items)
c) Data entry was paving the way for 20,000+ SKU’s to be entered into our system
d) An in-house ERP was being developed
a. Do you have plans to develop a mobile application soon?
We do, but we need to see more encouraging figures in the realm of not only digital internet reach and usage, but also digital literacy. If more than 100 million phones have access to the internet, why does the buck only stop at Facebook or Whatsapp for app usage and not the general e-commerce industry of Pakistan?
We are also working on features that would make our app stand out from others in Pakistan, including real-time delivery tracking and a more comprehensive ‘refill’ mechanism.
b. What about a brick-and-mortar establishment?
We already have an established name in the brick and mortar space. SEHAT is our expansion into the online space and our attempt to disrupt the traditional distribution model. Here, we will also explore other disruptions to the traditional model.
5. How has the response of the website been?
We were encouraged by how many people search for medicines online. Though it will be quite some time before we find the general internet community of Pakistan going directly to Sehat to purchase their medicines, we do feel we have captured a niche of medical professionals who are regular internet users.
6. Describe your internal processes
a. What is the response time between placing an order and dispatch?
The general timeframe is within 24 hours. We never try to overly impress our customers by bold statements pertaining to “speedy deliveries” as we have made it clear that our target market does not consist of people looking for a ‘quick fix’ but rather patients who have been prescribed regular medication
b. How are medicines stored, and how is their quality ensured
Sehat has a state-of-the-art warehouse facility that follows Ministry of Health, WHO, and HIPPA guidelines. It is temperature controlled, has a specially designed cold-chain fridge for storing temperature sensitive medicines (e.g. vaccines and insulin), and has a separate bar-code room for labeling each and every medicine that is entered.
7. You won “Best Healthcare Startup” at the 2016 Startup Expo. Describe what this meant for you
It felt wonderful to be lauded by the Entrepreneurship Development Institute, the organizing body of the 2016 Startup Expo, for our efforts in making healthcare accessible to all in Pakistan. On a personal note, Michael Foley, then CEO of Telenor in Pakistan, mentioned only Sehat alongside one other startup that he felt displayed “immense potential for greatness” in Pakistan. The judges for determining the best startup in each category were from the top echelons of Tech in Pakistan (Nabeel Qadeer from PlanX, Kamran Rizvi, Michael Foley, Naeem Zamindar of Acumen etc.) so there were proper guidelines in place for determining a startup’s caliber, namely:
• Business Model
• Business Partnerships
• Product Offering/Services
8. What edge do you have over other e-commerce sites?
The edge we have over other e-commerce sites are as follows:
• Temperature Sensitive Delivery
• Delivery to over 300 locations in Pakistan
• Order Scheduling
• Store Credit Facility
• Efficient packaging catered to each product
9. What edge do you have over other brick and mortar pharmacies in
a. A centralized warehouse where all our medicines are procured and thus a higher standard for storage can be maintained
b. The ability to automate your order through a ‘schedule’ as opposed to just a ‘walk-in purchase’
c. The ability to pay for your medicines through multiple payment methods (Cash, Credit Card, EasyPaisa, JazzCash, Net Banking, and Bank Deposit)
d. The ability to track your order through a tracking number for delivery
e. The ability to have a “qualified clinical assistant” come over to your house to vaccinate you for the flu, typhoid, or other diseases.