You know that feeling when you wake up at 6 a.m. feeling like you have been hit by a train, only to experience frustration at having to wait until 10 a.m. to find out if you can get a doctor’s appointment. This is partly what prompted a young Cape-based entrepreneur, Sheraan Amod, to launch RecoMed – a website that points you to the nearest doctor who can see you immediately!
Well that – and the fact that more than one million doctor-related Google searches are made in South Africa every month – gave Amod an idea to connect doctors and patients quicker and, in the process, eliminate the need for patients to make numerous phone calls to different doctors’ rooms. His online platform enables people to make real-time bookings when they need to see a doctor.
“There are probably millions of phone calls made by patients and call centres to organise healthcare bookings nationally and I saw an opportunity to make this process simpler, quicker and more seamless. I wanted to close the loop between searching, calling and booking by developing a platform that allows people to do all in a couple of seconds, using their phone or tablet,” says Amod.
RecoMed has a list of healthcare practitioners which patients can search according to the medical specialist they require and the area they reside in. Right now only half of practitioners on the list can be booked in real time, but Amod is working on getting the real-time capability adopted by all doctors listed on the website, with the help of a mentor assigned to him by the Sanlam Enterprise Supplier Development programme.
RecoMed’s platform is also being applied to large scale healthcare solutions, such as use in wellness screening days, chronic disease management programmes, and coordinating insurance medicals. The platform allows patients of these programmes, or those who manage them (e.g. insurance brokers and call centres), to get instant bookings with whoever is approved to see them.
“Basically, when any healthcare appointment is made electronically, now or in the future, there is a great chance that RecoMed’s platform is powering it.”
Technology-based innovations have always been Amod’s passion. Despite his tender age of 31, he has already founded two other technology start-ups: personalised photo products enterprise, Personera, and a technology incubator and joint venture partner, Springlab.
Personera was a world-first concept when he founded it in 2008 before taking it global in 2011. Today, the concept of hard-copy, personalized Facebook calendars, yearbooks and photo-books has become a big phenomenon in fundraising events around the US. Amod sold Personera to a US-based company when he made a decision to move his operations back to South Africa in 2013.
“Sitting in the US, I could see large economic opportunities that nobody was going after properly in South Africa. Our country combines many elements of developed and emerging markets, and it can be a great place to build a sustainable business base from which to expand to other similar emerging markets. While there are many negative developments right now, I believe that in the long term things will get better and well-prepared entrepreneurs will succeed,” says Amod.
Establishing three ventures in a space of seven years has taught Amod valuable lessons about the rollercoaster ride that is the technology start-up space.
“For every moderately successful technology-based start-up, there are literally thousands of ideas, apps, products and services – many of which burnt through millions of investor funding – that never made any money. It costs a lot to get a technology-based offering off the ground and you have to be prepared to put in extra effort, even though you might not achieve profitability for years.”
Amod shares his experience about what funders need in order to support a technology start-up. He says financial partners – whether they are friends, family, angel investors or venture capitalists – generally want to know if the founding team is bankable, if the business opportunity is big enough and if the risk is worth it.
“A ‘bankable’ founding team usually carries a combination of smart thinkers, domain expertise, experience, reputation and commitment to the start-up. A ‘big enough’ business opportunity usually means a company that can generate a minimum of R100m in annual revenue at high net margins. ‘Risk’ is a tricky one, but most commonly refers to the price of the deal, i.e. do the investors feel that they are receiving sufficient equity in the business to produce a valuable return.”
Amod says building a technology start-up is the ultimate challenge. But he says emerging innovators can greatly benefit from business mentors such as those provided through the Sanlam Enterprise Supplier Development programme. Essentially, they need to study the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the ever-growing reliance on technology to make our lives easier, improve business processes and create access to markets. “In this environment, access to a mentor who can help to insightfully find areas of improvement in the business, is invaluable.”
Website : www.recomed.co.za