Sri Lankan medtech start-up raises US$1mn in seed funding: report

ECONOMYNEXT – A Sri Lankan startup with an app that connects patients with doctors via smartphone video calls has raised $1 million in seed funding with investors, including a top apparel firm, a  leasing group and the deputy head of John Keells Holdings.

According to Tech in Asia, a publication covering the tech and startup community, the million dollars raised by oDoc, which offers video consultations with doctors and electronic health records, is the largest seed investment round for any startup in the island.

oDoc’s app enables users to book appointments, upload photos of ailments and lab tests, and see a doctor on demand on their smartphone.

The oDoc team started the fundraising efforts early this year. It will charge patients a consultation fee, of which oDoc gets a percentage, and is mulling a subscription model as well.

The oDoc app is available in three languages – English, Sinhalese and Tamil. Its immediate goal is to get product-market fit.

‘Say you wake up in the morning with a nasty rash and fever,’ Tech in Asia said in its report. ‘Three taps on your smartphone and you can submit your pre-consultation notes, take a picture of your rash, and get a doctor to review those. A doctor will call you and send his prescription with the doctor’s seal and signature right to your phone. All done in 10 minutes.’

Tech in Asia said that, while many startups around the world provide similar services, oDoc’s four founders – with their diverse backgrounds – approached it more from a design perspective than as a tech problem to solve.

“The reason nobody has really cracked it is because they looked at it as a medical problem. They were building it as an Uber for doctors of sorts. But it is really about changing behaviour. So, it is more of a design problem. It needed a fresh set of eyes,” the founders tell Tech in Asia.

Before turning into an entrepreneur, oDoc Chief Executive Heshan Fernando was the youngest assistant vice president of Sri Lanka’s largest listed company John Keells Holdings. Ajit Gunewardene, deputy chairman of JKH, is one of the investors in oDoc. Others include Phoenix Ventures Ltd., the holding company of Brandix Lanka, one of the island’s top apparel exporters, and Lanka Orix Leasing Company.

ODoc’s tech head Sohan Dharmaraja – with a PhD in computational applied mathematics from Stanford and a masters from MIT – was an algorithmic trader with Goldman Sachs.

The other two more co-founders are Inshard Naizer, Fernando’s former colleague from John Keells, and Janaka Wickremesinghe, a general physician who holds three patents and is the founder of Sri Lanka’s first online medical education platform CorpusMedici – which a third of all doctors in the island nation subscribe to, according to Fernando.
(COLOMBO, Sept 18, 2017)

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