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 such as PPE kits, masks, and sanitisers.
Mumbai-based Medikabazaar has been among the healthcare startups working round the clock to bridge the demand-supply gap for medical equipment across India. Founded in 2015 by Vivek Tiwari and Ketan Malkan, Medikabazaar claims to be one of the largest B2B online marketplaces for medical equipment and supplies, with a digital catalogue of over 400,000 products
Speaking to YS, Vivek, Founder and CEO of Medikabazaar, said institutions like hospitals and COVID centres were looking for and stocking medical equipment for treatment during the first lockdown last year, but the raging second wave saw huge demand mostly from patients unable to access medical supplies and hospital beds.
“We didn’t see the real impact of the pandemic till August. During the first four months of the first lockdown, institutions were gearing up. The second wave saw a flood of patients being treated at home due to the lack of hospital beds. So they were buying oxygen concentrators and anything possible to safeguard themselves. The first wave demand was institutional-level while the second wave was patient-centric,” he says.
Demand for medical equipment soared amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and Vivek says he personally received about 100 to 200 distress call amid the second wave for medical equipment.
Medikabazaar is currently in the process of raising its Series C funding round to scale up its services further amid increased demand.
Fighting the pandemic
Medikabazaar is currently working with about 100,000 B2B customers and has an active base of around 65,000-70,000, ranging from big-sized multispeciality hospitals to clinics and daycare centres.
Amid the pandemic, Medikabazaar has been focused on ensuring that medical supplies reach Tier II, III, and IV cities. It is bringing COVID-19 product buyers, suppliers, and experts on a single platform to address the huge demand-supply gap, and host relevant and reliable information related to the disease.
The B2B healthtech platform is present in around 20,000 pincodes, and caters to hospitals in Tier II and III areas, as well as in remote locations.
Speaking about the likely third wave, Vivek says it is important to focus on the section of population yet to be vaccinated.
“There is a high chance that India will be hit by the third wave. Most likely, it will affect the population that’s not vaccinated. We need to reach this vulnerable section and be prepared. We are working to help COVID-19 ICUs, especially paediatric ICUs, get adequate oxygen concentrators and cylinders, and medicines,” he says.
Vivek says the Medikabazaar platform recorded sales of over 10,000 oxygen concentrators and up to 7,000 oxygen cylinders.
In May 2019, the B2B platform raised Rs 200 crore in Series B funding from a clutch of venture capital investors in Japan, Belgium, and Germany. The company is now looking to raise its Series C funding round.
Vivek declined to comment on the development, saying that the process of raising capital was on and nothing had been concluded yet.
In June, Medikabazaar’s VIZI, an AI, and ML-powered hospital inventory management and forecasting software application, received a national patent for System and Method for Inventory Management in hospitals.
“In last three years, our GMV has been growing three to four times year on year, and this year we have grown to a very sizeable number. We are really looking at a fantastic 2021-2022 year in terms of our GMV and expect it to grow at least three times,” he says.
According to IBEF data, the Indian medical devices market stood at $11 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $65 billion in 2024.
As India readies for a likely third wave of COVID-19, it is important that we are equipped with essential medical equipment. Startups such as Medikabazaar aim to make this possible.