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Ramnath Sundaram: ‘Entrepreneur Should Be Able to Breathe the Problem on Daily Basis’

Ramnath Sundaram, Director and CFO of HowRU in discussion with Indian entrepreneur Nalin Singh

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Divya Dhadd
Divya Dhadd

INDIA: In a new episode of Smart Entrepreneurship Decoded, Transcontinental Times invites Bangalore based Ramnath Sundaram who comes from a company with a unique name, HowRU.

Sundaram, who is the director and CFO of HowRU, starts with the background story of the company’s peculiar name.

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“Our company was called Knowurture Health Solutions India Private Ltd, a group founded by like-minded people of the health care sector. The word ‘nurture’ focuses on knowledge with a focus on the future, we believe that our economy will be the future. While we used the word for a while but we found that people couldn’t associate the word nurture with health care. So we came up with ‘How are you?’ which is the first thing we ask on meeting someone, we wanted to capture that emotion and henceforth called ourselves HowRU.”

What does HowRU do?

“We are working on the cusp of technology and health care. Health care is a sector where the quality of service cannot be observed by the consumer after making the purchase, making it very difficult to assess the utility. We did a Twitter sentiment analysis and found that phrases like depression, nervousness, tensed had very low confidence sentiments that were thrown out by Twitter, which means that was what people most searched for on Twitter, and not the positive things in health care. Health care today is a completely broken kind of thing. It is very heavily provider-centric, where everything is about the patient but without the patient.”

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“So our company has understood that doctors and patients are facing a certain amount of problem and what are the gaps we have to address, we have created an ecosystem, for instance; we have a patient history collection tool which is an artificial intelligence-driven. It has about 36,000 questions which are very iterative — the conditions the patients have’ve been put. This report goes to the doctors, so the doctor before seeing you knows exactly what he is dealing with, this way with the report before hand the doctor has enough time to go through the patient’s problems. The doctor can look at details of the patient’s history and diagnose more efficiently and look at exactly what the patient needs help with. I have an expert location system in terms of expertise, two in terms of location, three in terms of cost. So we facilitate a doctor-patient engagement at a level higher than it would normally be, but with a patient-centric view. Comparing our service with Uber, we are the taxi service provider, the patient is the passanger and the doctor is the driver. ”

An unconventional funding route

“This business requires an in-depth understanding of how the health care system works. It is not a convenience model like medicine delivery. Here what I am trying to resolve is the way a doctor diagnoses a disease, the way doctor interacts with the patient, the empowerment I am giving the patient in terms of he owning up to his decisions. So I need people are very invested in this particular type of business. Went we approached conventional investors, they tried throwing us off gear saying — how are you going to increase value and how are you going to exit the investor, they were more financially motivated than — trying to improve the medical science. So we started approaching doctors for investments and that worked out. Now when I develop this ecosystem, I am going to the next step of asking the investment from a well invested investor, not the person who is just interested in making profits out of it.”

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Also Read: Annurag Batra: ‘Entrepreneurship is Hard, Let’s Not Glamorize It’

The shift from corporate to entrepreneurhsip

After his time in the corporate sector, Sundaram came up with a startup that has raised funds in an unconventional way, a journey that is longer but more fulfilling.

“If one has reached the age of 40, just doing corporate and there is no fulfillment, then something needs to be done about that,” Sundaram said.

“An entrepreneur should have some problem to solve, be invested in the problem, be able to live and breathe the problem on daily basis and be focused on the problem in such a manner that A, of course there is a financial outcome and B, something beyond financial outcome — is there a fulfillment and is there something you have built? Or is there something you can leave as a legacy?”

“One of the toughest things when I took up entrepreneurship was convincing my family that I am not going to get my monthly pay checks and that we have to start living frugally and family support is required. Second is conviction — being able to make sense of what you’ve done, you also have to be focused and meet the right people.”


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