The Trailblazers in Impact Interview Series celebrates some of the partners we’ve worked with over the years in creating positive social and environmental impact.
In this edition, we speak with Founder and CEO of Karma Healthcare, Jagdeep Gambhir, who has been working with Impact Partners since 2017. In 2018, IIX successfully helped Karma Healthcare close a funding round led by 1Crowd and existing investors Ankur Capital, Beyond Capital Fund and Ennovent, and received support from organizations such as the Tata Trusts, UBS Optimus Foundation and WISH Foundation.
Karma Healthcare provides affordable, equitable and reliable healthcare services to the underserved rural population in India through a hub-and-spoke model that connects remote communities to doctors via real-time online video consultations. Since the inception of its first clinic in 2014, Karma healthcare has created a comprehensive ecosystem of clinical treatment, quality medicines and diagnostics at competitive rates. Prior to founding Karma Healthcare, Jagdeep worked as a program manager at various health initiatives and was an analyst at Goldman Sachs.
Enjoy the read!
- Tell us about yourself, how you decided to become an entrepreneur, and how you created Karma Health?
Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, I worked at Goldman Sachs. I left the bank to go to rural Behar, where I met someone from MIT who was developing a monitoring system for patients suffering from tuberculosis. At that time, they needed someone bold enough to scale the product and I readily accepted the challenge.
Living in rural India made me realize the true scale of health problems facing the region. I saw firsthand that while there is a strong public sector presence in healthcare, the data shows that many people still seek healthcare from the private sector due to a shortage of doctors. Most saliently – the problem is that many people turn to expensive informal doctors who are unqualified and untrained.
Karma Health was created to deal with these issues. We open clinics in rural areas and hire nurses to provide video consultations with qualified doctors and specialists. Since the clinics are our own, we can make sure that the quality and standards are adequate. Since we have the entire digital data of the patient, we can also make sure that the healthcare delivered is more evidence-based and transparent.
We were incorporated 4 years ago and have since set up over 25 clinics combining both physical clinics and technology systems to reach and monitor people in need.
- What pain point are you addressing and how are you addressing it?
The main pain points we are addressing are the lack of doctors and affordable healthcare. To address this, we have nursing facilities that are facilitated by video conferences with patients. We also promote an evidence-based health delivery system incorporating both transparency and accountability through technology-enabled solutions.
Rural doctors serve a certain level of need, but you cannot substitute a trained knowledgeable doctor with untrained individuals.
- How do you communicate your impact to investors? We have standard monitoring and evaluation frameworks that we use to communicate our impact to investors. To our investors, we report on both financials and outputs such as number of patients served, diseases profiled, etc. We are working towards refining our impact measurement to communicate how our work leads to better health and well-being in the communities that we serve. IIX has assisted us in running an in-depth impact assessment of our work to help us better communicate our impact to investors.
- What are your main challenges in growing your company?
The main challenge is the actual scale of the problem at hand. The lack of access to healthcare in India is staggering and we will need an entire ecosystem to address the need. This will entail educating the masses on the differences between a qualified and unqualified doctor.
As such, while we have built great clinics and we have many people coming in, we must take into account that the general awareness of health, hygiene and well-being does not exist.
- What is your growth strategy? Karma Health will continue to open more clinics as we scale and increase the impact of each of these clinics by leveraging more partnerships for behavioral change, awareness building and so on. Another strategy we have is to make our clinics more effective by developing smarter cost-efficient healthcare services with technology and innovation. These are our areas of focus moving forward.
- What would you advise other impact enterprises when raising capital?
In the case of Karma Health, I would say that one critical factor is that we underestimated the challenge the awareness-building required in the initial years. We could have raised more capital and carved some funding out for awareness-building, but we were too focused on our own work and had not considered the wider ecosystem we were operating in.
If I could have done things differently, I would have started building awareness early on. Looking at the level of impact we are able to achieve, I believe that we could have had an even greater impact with the same funding had we developed the surrounding ecosystem.
- What keeps you motivated and how do you avoid Founder burnout? Hearing positive feedback from our patients really keeps us going, especially when we see through our platforms that a patient would not have received appropriate healthcare had it not been for our services. My employees and myself really thrive on stories of happier and healthier clients.
- What was it like working with IIX?
As a start-up working in rural India, we could not have hoped for better support than what we received from the IIX team. Their work and alignment with their overall mission is very strong, particularly with IIX’s focus on impact measurement and reporting.
IIX was able to guide us through our challenges from a practical standpoint and provide us with great connections with other impact investors to access capital from which we have benefited a lot and continue to do so today.