Future Stars

Bilal Mumtaz | Interview

Times of Youth: What is the name of the startup? 


Times of Youth: What is your startup, what does it do?

Our startup is an online pharmacy with a supplementary call centre, that delivers medicines to customers all over Pakistan (200+ locations). Sehat also offers home vaccination services in 4 major cities of Pakistan (Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, and Rawalpindi)

Times of Youth: Who are the founders and key team members?

The founders are Nadir Mumtaz, Yusuf Mumtaz, Akbar Mumtaz, Hyder Mumtaz, and Bilal Mumtaz (part of the 4th generation of the Fazal Din Family, a healthcare conglomerate operating in Pakistan since 1948).

The Key team members include Nadir Mumtaz (CEO), Yusuf Mumtaz (Director of Cold Chain), Shoaib Qureshi (General Manager), Faheem Sarfraz (Head of Pharmacy), Talha Hassan (Head of IT), and Nadeem Abbasi (Head of Procurement)

Times of Youth: How does your startup stand out against it’s competitors, what makes you different?

Our startup stands out against brick and mortar pharmacies by (1) offering nationwide delivery (2) procuring medicines directly from the manufacturer (3) offering a multitude of different payment methods, including mobile banking, online banking, credit card payment, and cash on delivery and (4) speedy delivery within the hub of our operations, Lahore

We also go a step further by standing out among notable e-commerce sites selling similar products. This is in the form of creating noteworthy salient features, such as (1) order scheduling (2) store credit deposit (through prepayment methods)  (3) same day local delivery and (4) prescription verification for relevant items on our portal (other e-commerce sites don’t abide by the laws set forth for retail sale of such items)

Times of Youth: Where did the idea for the startup come from?

The idea from the startup came collectively from the five founding members of Sehat. They felt that since their family was already heavily involved in the pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan, and that they were already successful in their respective healthcare ventures (namely medical equipment agencies), that it was only logical for them to bring their family business to the e-commerce space

Times of Youth: What is your vision for the company?

Our vision for the company in terms of horizontal expansion include satellite warehouses in five major cities in Pakistan within the next five years, and allocated ATM’s for medication. Vertical expansion plans include diagnostic labs for drug testing. In terms of more immediate product oriented goals, we plan to expand to (1) optician products (2) beauty/wellness products and (3) consumer household items

Times of Youth: What is the actual addressable market?

The actual addressable market is repeat and recurring prescription medicine users. This has translated into roughly a third of the population of the country

Times of Youth: Can you state, in clear language, the key features of your product or service?

The key features of our service include the following:
• Timely delivery of medicines all over Pakistan
• Pharmacist-controlled verification of prescriptions for prescription drug processing
• Multiple payment options for ease of use and convenience in purchasing medicines
• Supplementary call centre (0800 73428) and website (www.sehat.com.pk)
• Superior packaging materials for delivery
o Namely cold chain packaging materials for temperature sensitive items, which maintain the temperature of the parcel between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius for up to 48 hours during delivery

Times of Youth: Where did the idea for the startup come from? What was the inspiration behind the business?

The idea for the startup came from the father of the five founding members – all five are brothers. The inspiration was to create a portal that provided authentic medicines to Pakistanis all over the country, and to end the trade of spurious drugs in the market (30% of all medication in the the trade is deemed ‘fake’)

Times of Youth: What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?

I myself am a Finance Major from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, and what actually got me interested in startups was my first job – a part time gig in sales at a Groupon-esque startup based in London, Ontario called Scratchd. I learned the ropes of making sales in a ‘do-or-die’ quick paced environment .It was from then on I was up to the challenge of returning home to Pakistan to help build Sehat in December 2013 – the website was officially launched in April 2014.

Times of Youth: What are the major product milestones/achievements?

Our major product milestones have been our Twitter Following – one of the top 5 among startups in Pakistan -, our inclusion in to notable Pakistani Tech Magazines list of Top Ten Early Age Startups with Huge Potential, our corporate clientele (which are among the top 50 performing companies of Pakistan), and our home vaccination program (initially started as a collaborative effort with a renowned multinational pharmaceutical company). We are also the first startup ever in Pakistan to create an anthem for the Pakistan National Cricket Team (De Chakka).

Times of Youth: How did you initially raise funding for your company?

This has been a family funded venture from the start.

Times of Youth: What early traction has the company gotten (sales, traffic to the company’s website, app downloads, etc., as relevant).

We have managed to dominate SEO for medicinal products among e-commerce sites in Pakistan, which has lead to the bulk of our orders. We have also managed to supply medicines directly to corporate clientele either through (1) medicinal sales to their dispensaries, (2) direct medicinal sales to their employees, and (3) vaccinations of corporate employees. We have also managed to get exclusive PR deals with renowned Pakistani newspaper companies and tech blogs to further promote our brand. Through extensive Facebook campaigns, we have managed to increase our customer base by 400% in the past six months.

Times of Youth: What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?

As a startup owner, the biggest challenge has to be dealing with our supply chain team. Medicines are not items that can be obtained on a Just-in-Time basis, so our supply chain team has to work around the clock to obtain medicines not available from other retail outlets not just in Lahore, but in Pakistan as a whole.

Times of Youth: What will the company look like in a year? From any and all perspectives — product, people, team, revenue?

In a year, the company will hopefully have a website development team and an upated ERP. We will expand our product line to consumer household items and beauty/wellness products, and we will be making a profit with our (1) organic customer sales (2) corporate/institutional sales and (3) home vaccinations

Times of Youth: How can investors in your idea make a profit?

Investors in our idea can help us make a profit by improving our system to further speed up order processing, and by giving us a reasonable marketing budget to promote our brand offline to all corners of Pakistan. A revamp of the website is also necessary, and collaborations with telecom/payment partners all over the country will further consolidate our brand. They can also invest in stationing doctors at our premises so that customers can receive prescriptions from us and purchase from us as well

Times of Youth: Finally, If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?

If I could give someone  a piece of advice who thinks about starting business, I would urge him/her to have a very hands-on approach to his model. Careful Financial Planning, Proper Marketing Strategy, and a ‘never-say-die’ attitude are key, but ultimately, a sound business model revolves around a product that is not only disruptive, but has a lot of demand – that’s the tricky part about building a business from the ground up.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sehatpharmacy/ 

Questionnaire was filled by Founder of  Sehat – Mr. Bilal Mumtaz

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