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Proudly Local is a series of stories that spotlight Indian promoters who have established a strong local and global footprint in their respective industries. These business leaders, who have worked with us for their recruitment needs, speak with us to share insights on how Indian companies are growing. In this feature, Vivek Tiwari, CEO and co-founder of Medikabazaar, shares his story of the company’s humble beginnings and how it grew into the healthcare titan it is today.
The story behind India’s Medikabazaar is literally a grandmother’s tale. Vivek Tiwari got the idea to launch his B2B marketplace for medical devices and supplies when he noticed how challenging it was for his grandmother – who was on dialysis and lived in a remote area – to gain access to healthcare supplies. It made him wonder why there was such a gap in the first place and how it could be plugged.
“There was a difference in healthcare delivery in smaller towns beyond metros, in terms of accessibility, availability, affordability or awareness. For example, the difference in quality healthcare is quite huge in Bharat (rural India) compared to urban India, and this problem needed to be addressed,” says Tiwari, who realised that the unorganised and inefficient procurement system also affected hospitals and medical institutions, thus making healthcare inaccessible and unaffordable for patients.
So in 2015, Medikabazaar was born as a start-up in a one-room office in Mumbai, a product of Tiwari’s dream to see an innovative medical supplies platform.
Medikabazaar connects with and delivers to medical establishments in remote areas so that they can administer quality patient care. But it was a challenge at first to get vendors on board, as there were no established B2B medical supply chains in India then.
We are a large country, and our large populace stays in rural India, so I hope to see quality healthcare services become more accessible and available in these areas
“Online presence visibility of a business wasn’t commonplace knowledge at the time. It was a considerable task to engross multiple vendors, ask them for price quotes, parlaying for purchases, and so on. We faced a bigger challenge of getting the right price from a reliable vendor, and there were hardly such vendors who owned an array of medical supplies. We worked hard to make the industry realise the need for digital aggregation and understand how it brought efficiency to operations,” shares Tiwari.
Tiwari sees exciting things happening over the next five to 10 years. Now, Medikabazaar is the go-to digital platform for purchasing medical supplies. It has become India’s health-tech leader, valued at nearly 700 million US dollars during its latest fundraise in April this year.
It has partnered with some 13,000 active suppliers and caters to 120,000 medical establishments and daycare centres. It has a staff strength of more than a thousand people, and plans to hire more over the coming months as it gears up for global expansion.
“We are pioneering the next big thing – delivering medical supplies via drones. The project aims to serve multiple locations across rural, urban, and semi-urban areas, including regions where the delivery time is significantly higher through conventional modes due to tough terrain.”
“We will expand our global operations in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. We are also eyeing the Unicorn status – to be valued at over a billion dollars and to be privately owned. (FYI, the company is currently a soonicorn, which means it’s primarily funded and financed by an angel investor or venture capitalist). Ultimately, we want to usher in transformation in the healthcare supply chains in India through technology and scale Medikabazaar to a multi-billion, multinational enterprise while helping to save millions of lives,” explains Tiwari.
His ambition is not surprising, given his penchant for always scaling new heights. He also believes in investing in the right people, as this is the best way to retain staff. So far, this strategy has worked, as Medikabazaar’s attrition rate falls below industry standards.
Tiwari admits that finding someone with suitable skill sets and attitudes can be challenging. That is why he relies on recruitment agencies to source the best hire.
“We expect to double our workforce strength from 1,000 by the next financial year. We approached Michael Page, as it is one of the world’s most reputable recruitment consultancies. It has worked with different organisations, from SMEs to major blue-chip companies. Michael Page quickly recognised and met our recruitment needs, creating a multi-pronged candidate sourcing strategy that involves advertising, search, database, and extensive candidate networks,” elaborates Tiwari.
Related: How does Michael Page attract the best talent for your business?
Good recruitment aside, Tiwari also firmly believes in leading by example. He wants to motivate his staff and egg them on to always try new things. He maintains that in order to succeed, one has to plan well and execute it better.
“I follow these three mantras – be a source of inspiration to every team member, define and stick to your values, and encourage new initiatives, risk-taking, and a growth mindset. Having a good idea and a great plan is never enough. When we aim to succeed in our endeavours, it always boils down to execution. So we must focus on how well we execute, or else the best of opportunities will never see the desired outcome,” says Tiwari.
Related: The value of mentorship and sponsorship, and what it can do for your company
He adds: “As a founder, one needs to build teams that encourage good work and tolerance for risk, including losses. The idea of “fail fast, learn faster” works perfectly for early-stage start-ups as you have less to lose at that phase. But there is immense upside potential in trying out new ideas and scaling up.”
This bold management approach is also key to helping the company weather the COVID-19 pandemic, as it worked round the clock to bridge the demand and supply gap for medical equipment across the country.
“COVID-19 showcased the glaring gaps in India’s healthcare segment, leading to a huge demand for medical equipment such as ventilators, oxygen concentrators, vaccines, and supplies like PPE kits, masks, and sanitisers.”
“Amid the pandemic, we focused on ensuring that these supplies reached the smaller cities. We also introduced the ‘COVID Combat Collaboration Platform’, aimed at enrolling suppliers, customers and experts of COVID products and their situation under a single roof. There was also a forum for experts to contribute so that the masses could access the right news,” says Tiwari.
While one may say that Medikabazaar has played a massive role in streamlining India’s medical and healthcare procurement system, Tiwari feels there is still more to improve.
“The Indian healthcare sector is still highly fragmented and largely unorganised, especially beyond the developed cities. We are a large country, and our large populace stays in rural India, so I hope to see quality healthcare services become more accessible and available in these areas.”
“To this end, Medikabazaar will remain committed and devoted to making a difference in, and transforming, every aspect of Indian healthcare, from bridging the urban-rural gap to innovating solutions to help predict demand in hospitals.”
Trusted by Promoters across India, work with a recruitment partner that understands your needs as you grow. Get in touch with us, and we can share more about the value Michael Page brings to your organisation.
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