The Jodhpur-based healthtech startup, Sarathi Healthcare, provides the elderly access to medical services like health monitoring, homecare assistance, doctor consultations and other medical facilities
The startup clocked INR 1.02 Cr revenue in FY23 and has raised INR 93 Lakh since its inception. Sarathi Healthcare aims to generate INR 2.5 Cr in FY24 revenue
Sarathi Healthcare competes with names like 60Plus India, Alserv, ElderAid and GetSetUp in the country’s geriatric care market, which is expected to become a market opportunity of more than $41 Bn by 2028
Who isn’t familiar with the horrors that the Covid-19 pandemic brought upon humanity? While the initial days were fun to stay inside the confines of the homes, everything started getting out of hand after that.
And while the 21-day nationwide lockdown hardly did the trick to contain the spread of the deadly variant of the coronavirus family, it certainly led to behavioural and mental health issues among the population, with the elderly being hit the most.
According to a study by the Agewell Foundation, the elderly went through high degrees of Covid-19-related anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, depression and chronic stress.
“The pandemic took a heavy toll on the elderly due to their weak immunity. To make matters worse, many fell prey to depression due to loneliness at the time when social distancing was the new norm,” said Lavender Singh Rathore, the founder and CEO of healthtech startup Sarathi Healthcare, which provides holistic care to the elderly.
According to Rathore, the situation was all the more gruesome for the elderly, whose children or other family members were away and couldn’t travel as transportation services across the country came to a screeching halt. And then there was a flow of negative news from all possible means — TV channels, WhatsApp groups and social media platforms.
“My friends living away from their parents in different cities constantly asked me to keep a check on their parents and it was painful for me to see them in a constant state of fear,” Rathore said, adding that it proved to be the tipping point that triggered him to do something for the old.
It was then that Rathore joined forces with Sushil Sharma, CEO and founder of Marwari Catalysts to launch Sarathi Healthcare in September 2020 to give the elderly the care they needed, both physical and mental, as the virus wreaked havoc. Rathore raised INR 5 Lakh seed funding from Marwari Catalysts, paving the way for the startup’s launch.
Later, in September 2023, dentist Saloni Munot joined Rathore’s startup as the cofounder and COO, while Rathore assumed the role of CEO and cofounder. Meanwhile, Sharma is the director of Sarathi Healthcare.
The Jodhpur-based healthtech startup provides the elderly access to medical services like health monitoring, homecare assistance, doctor consultations and other medical facilities (more on this later). Besides physical health services, the startup provides nutritionists, ‘concierge’ services (caretakers), wellness and health counsellors.
All these services and facilities can be accessed by the elderly (and their caregivers) 24/7 via the company’s website. The startup is also working on its app, HealthSarathi, which will be ready by March 2024.
Meanwhile, the users can leverage the Sarathi website to book blood tests and body checkups and order health supplements. For this, the startup has a network of 12 hospitals, 38 super speciality doctors, 13 healthcare providers (concierge), 3 nutritionists, 3 counsellors and 12 healthcare brands.
Further, the services of the startup, which predominantly operates in Jodhpur, have already been used by over 6K individuals across Rajasthan. The startup also has the state government’s support under the iStart initiative.
According to Rathore, iStart has been one of the earliest supporters in their journey. Under the state’s initiative, not only did the startup receive financial aid when it was in its nascency but also expert assistance in understanding the legalities of starting a company.
The iStart programme of the state government proved to be a shot in the arm for the healthtech startup, which then soon lapped up investments from Ah! Ventures and a clutch of high-networth individuals based in Jodhpur, Nashik and Pune. To date, Sarathi Healthcare has raised INR 93 Lakh in Seed funding.
Pertinent to mention that the startup clocked INR 1.02 Cr revenue in FY23 and is now looking at a 145% YoY increase in the metric.
Meanwhile, without divulging many details, Rathore hinted that the startup was working on building a proprietary tech stack that would help bridge the communication gap between senior citizens and their families.
From Catering To Legacy Pharmas To Creating A Social Impact
Before embarking on his entrepreneurial journey, Rathore served the pharma sector for three decades, working with legacy players like Zydus Cadila, USV and Boehringer Mannheim.
It was not until the pandemic that the gaps in the country’s healthcare system started making sense, inspiring him to set up Sarathi Healthcare.
Upon the startup’s launch, the founders encountered their first major challenge, which was navigating the complex legal and regulatory requirements associated with establishing a private limited company. Understanding legal compliance proved to be a daunting task. However, Rathore said he was fortunate that the Rajasthan government intervened to simplify the processes for Sarathi Healthcare.
Now, the next challenge was to optimise the company’s operational systems. This obstacle was addressed by assembling a team of experts, addressing core issues and systematically tailoring solutions.
Rathore said that this combination of experience, dedication and strategic problem-solving boosted Sarathi Healthcare forward, enabling it to have a meaningful impact in the healthcare sector.
The results of their efforts became evident when the startup onboarded the first 100 patients within three months of its launch and 800 users in the first five months.
How Sarathi Healthcare Became A True Companion For The Elderly
Rathore told Inc42 that Sarathi Healthcare was founded based on the core belief that elderly care goes beyond just medical needs. Therefore, the Sarathi Healthcare team has been focussed on providing holistic care, encompassing all aspects of human well-being.
“Emotional well-being is just as crucial as physical health. If ignored, this could manifest in physical ailments,” the founder said, adding that Sarathi Healthcare harnesses the power of technology to provide round-the-clock healthcare services to the elderly.
While the startup understands the importance of wellness and emotional and medical care, it has not overlooked the social needs of the elderly. To further inculcate a sense of belonging, the startup has created a WhatsApp group for those who have signed up on the website to foster peer-to-peer interaction. The group also has doctors who share medical advice with the group.
Moving on, Rathore and his team also acknowledge the fact that a lot of senior citizens may not be tech-savvy, and this is why Sarathi Healthcare provides 24/7 customer service to its users via a number on its site.
Meanwhile, here’s a brief snapshot of the startup’s array of services for the elderly.
In addition to these services, users can order essential supplements, basic medical gadgets and first aid supplies.
While talking about the startup’s plans, Rathore said that users can subscribe to all their services for INR 3K for three months, INR 5.4K for six months and INR 9.9K for a year.
According to the founder, 15% of the startup’s revenue is generated from caretaking services, 10% from nutrition consultancy and physiotherapy services, 15% from well-being and emotional counselling, lab and radiology services, and the remaining 60% from retail.
What’s On The Horizon?
As of now, the founders of Sarathi Healthcare have set their eyes on setting their footprint in Tier II and III cities of the country, with better healthcare facilities for the elderly.
To fuel its expansion plans, Rathore said, the startup is actively engaging with potential investors and VC platforms like GSK, Hello Tomorrow, PadUp Ventures, Build3 Accelerator and Goa Angels.
Recognising that the startup cannot replace the role of actual family and children in the lives of the elderly, Rathore said that his team is laser-focussed on providing professional care tailored to meet the needs of senior citizens.
The need to address substantial gaps in elderly care, particularly in underserved areas and Tier II and III cities, cannot be undermined. This is because the country’s elderly population today accounts for more than 35% and the need to give them access to high-quality healthcare, both mental and physical, is greater than ever.
Fortunately, a growing number of startups like Sarathi are committed to tackling this issue with an iron hand. For instance, Sarathi Healthcare competes with names like 60Plus India, Alserv, ElderAid, and GetSetUp in the country’s geriatric care market, which is expected to become a market opportunity of more than $41 Bn by 2028.