Devashish Singh, Co-Founder and CEO of MrMed, an online pharmacy for super-specialty medicines

Devashish Singh

Interview with Devashish Singh, Co-Founder and CEO of MrMed, an online pharmacy for super-specialty medicines

Devashish Singh is the co-founder and CEO of MrMed. Singh was raised in a family of business owners who inspired him to become a job creator. The growth of several startups in Bangalore also ignited his passion for entrepreneurship.

Dev has worked as a financial planner for Deloitte Consulting in the US, and for the Narayana Group, he created digital learning and communication platforms and managed and built the group’s tech and digital marketing teams. After coming back to India, he played a key role in setting up India’s largest makerspace in Bangalore.

The co-founders have known each other for a long time. Saurab, being a partisan of the pharmaceutical distribution business, always shared his opinions about the pharma industry and the various challenges.

While digging more into the problem, they realised that having a one-stop platform that promised genuine specialty medicines at honest prices was the need of the hour; so there came MrMed.

Moreover, during the pandemic, they noticed that the sales of specialty medicines declined due to a lack of easy access to genuine specialty medicines at honest prices, so MrMed worked around that too.

Singh’s approach is process-oriented in an industry that is very dynamic, which has helped MrMed become a benchmark for prices and other critical information.

MrMed showcases updated prices and information on Patient Assistance Programs to patients, which reduces the financial burden for them.

Singh’s business goal is to continue to grow at exponential rates, retain existing customers, and bring patients to MrMed earlier in their therapy journey.

He is inspired by all entrepreneurs, especially Kunal Shah, whom he follows closely. Singh is a passionate supporter of Liverpool Football Club.

He is an avid traveller who loves trying different cuisines with his wife and spending time in Cubbon Park with his two kids.

Tell us a little about yourself  

Devashish Singh: I was born and raised in Bangalore to a Sikh family that moved to the Garden City in the 1950’s so am a true Sikh Kannadiga in many respects.

I completed my studies including a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering in Bangalore before moving to the US to study management at Duke University.

Soon after Duke, I worked at Deloitte Consulting in the New York City office. I have had the opportunity to travel across the USA working on financial planning, budgeting and forecasting strategies at mostly healthcare providers and pharmaceutical clients.

My first two projects were managing a major M&A at one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world and strategizing an effective budgeting process for two of the top ten hospitals in the world.

It’s so surreal to see me back in healthcare, especially since my family is in the manufacturing sector having conveyor belt factories in Bommasandra, Bangalore.

I moved back to India after five years in the US and had my first feel of entrepreneurship at scale in my role as Vice President of New Initiatives at The Narayana Group.

I had the privilege of working directly with Sindhura Narayana and Puneet Kothapa, the managing and executive directors of the group on dozens of projects that they wanted to get off the ground.

The most successful ones that we implemented included taking 5 lakhs+ Narayana students and 10 lakhs+ parents online through mobile applications made completely inhouse by a team that I led and successfully rebranding the group and making digital marketing a significant part of the overall marketing spend.

I also had a small role in assisting the group raise private equity from Morgan Stanley and learned a lot from Puneet during the deal making period.

This focus on technology and digital marketing along with efficient management is what I continue to bring to MrMed.

What inspired you to establish a platform that focuses on providing these specialized medicines?

Devashish Singh: Saurab and I have been friends for more than twelve years since we met in Philadelphia, USA. Whenever we met in India, whether in Bangalore or Chennai, our conversations would revolve around the pharmaceutical supply chain, which is Saurab and his family’s area of expertise.

During the initial Covid-19 lockdown, while discussing these matters, we realized something significant had occurred.

Despite the overall surge in sales of medicines and health products like paracetamol, zinc, and other immunity boosters, the sales of super-specialty medicines used in the treatment of life-threatening conditions such as cancer and chronic kidney disease had plummeted. This decline was primarily due to limited access to these medicines, which were restricted to large cities.

As we delved deeper into the issue, we discovered that supply-demand problems and marketing challenges led to inefficiencies in pricing, with the benefits of a network seldom being passed on to patients.

To address these problems, we created MrMed, an online pharmacy that aimed to ensure availability, affordability, and reliability in procuring super-specialty medicines. Our platform also provided the convenience of door-to-door delivery and flexible payment methods.

Can you provide an overview of MrMed and its role as India’s top online pharmacy for super-specialty medicines?

Devashish Singh: MrMed is India’s leading online pharmacy specializing in providing super-specialty medicines. Our primary objective is to ensure the availability, affordability, and reliability of these critical medications to patients across the country.

With a deep understanding of the unique challenges associated with the pharmaceutical supply chain, we have established ourselves as a trusted platform for procuring specialized medications.

At MrMed, we recognize the precise storage and handling requirements of super-specialty medicines. We have implemented stringent measures to maintain the integrity and quality of these medications during storage and transportation.

Temperature-controlled storage facilities, specialized packaging materials, and adherence to regulatory guidelines are among the key aspects that contribute to our commitment to maintaining the highest standards.

Our launch amidst the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19 further exemplified our dedication to fulfilling the urgent medication needs of patients.

While facing the initial surge in demand, we encountered unexpected challenges that exposed the weaknesses in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

However, our team swiftly responded, ensuring fair allocation of limited stocks and refunding payments as required.

During this critical period, we took pride in offering antivirals at a significant discount, emphasizing our commitment to providing affordable healthcare solutions while combating black-market activities.

As we progressed, MrMed expanded its services to cater to a wide range of chronic specialty conditions.

Our personalized approach, including building trust and providing round-the-clock delivery services, has earned us the loyalty and satisfaction of our customers.

As founders, Saurab and I remain actively involved in various aspects of the business, including support calls, delivery operations, product testing, and marketing operations, to ensure a seamless and customer-centric experience.

Super-specialty medicines often cater to niche medical conditions. How does MrMed ensure a wide range of medications are available for patients with diverse medical needs?

Devashish Singh: At MrMed, we understand the critical importance of catering to diverse medical needs, especially when it comes to super-specialty medicines that target niche medical conditions.

We are committed to ensuring a wide range of medications are available to patients with varying medical requirements. Here is how we achieve this:

Comprehensive Sourcing: We establish partnerships and collaborations with reputable pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers who specialize in super-specialty medicines. This allows us to source a broad spectrum of medications covering various medical conditions.

Extensive Product Portfolio: Our dedicated team continuously works towards expanding our product portfolio by adding new medications that cater to different niche medical needs.

We conduct thorough research, engage in market analysis, and closely monitor medical advancements to identify and procure the latest and most effective super-specialty medicines.

Expert Advisory Board: We have a panel of medical experts and professionals from diverse fields who provide valuable insights and guidance on identifying and procuring medications for different medical conditions.

Their expertise ensures that our offerings align with the latest treatment protocols and meet the specific needs of patients.

Collaborations with Specialized Clinics and Hospitals: We establish collaborations and partnerships with specialized clinics, hospitals, and healthcare providers to understand the unique requirements of patients with niche medical conditions.

These partnerships enable us to offer a wider range of medications and ensure that we can meet the diverse needs of patients in a timely manner.

Regular Supply Chain Assessment: We continuously evaluate and optimize our supply chain to ensure a consistent availability of super-specialty medicines.

This involves closely monitoring stock levels, anticipating demand fluctuations, and maintaining robust inventory management systems.

By proactively managing our supply chain, we aim to minimize stockouts and ensure that patients have access to the medications they need when they need them.

Patient Feedback and Requests: We actively encourage feedback from patients and healthcare professionals regarding their specific medication requirements.

This feedback helps us understand emerging medical needs and enables us to adapt and expand our product offerings accordingly.

Our goal at MrMed is to be a trusted and reliable platform where patients with diverse medical needs can find the super-specialty medicines they require.

By employing these strategies, we strive to ensure a wide range of medications are readily available, allowing us to serve patients with various niche medical conditions effectively.

How do you source and verify the authenticity of these specialized medicines?

Devashish Singh: Again, direct procurement and procurement from authorized distributors is the primary force behind providing authentic medicines.

Every new supplier we onboard goes through a fairly rigorous process to ensure authenticity and capabilities.

We also have a very small core group of supplier partners to ensure we have capabilities and pricing that is in line with patient demand.

The online pharmacy industry in India is highly competitive. What sets MrMed apart from other players in the market?

Devashish Singh: MrMed is a super speciality online pharmacy and our focus on medicines that are not easily available in local pharmacies and chemists.

Our unique value proposition, customer-centric approach, robust infrastructure, and commitment to quality distinguish us from the competition.

Firstly, MrMed differentiates itself through its extensive product offerings. We have a comprehensive range of medicines, including super-specialty medications that are often difficult to access.

Our platform ensures availability of critical medications for life-threatening conditions such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, and other rare diseases.

By bridging the gap between patients and these specialized medicines, we provide a vital service that addresses a significant unmet need in the market.

Secondly, we prioritize customer satisfaction and convenience. Our user-friendly website and mobile app provide a seamless ordering experience.

We have implemented secure payment options, enabling customers to transact with confidence. Additionally, our door-to-door delivery service ensures that patients receive their medications promptly and conveniently, even in remote locations.

We understand the importance of timely access to medicines, particularly for patients with chronic conditions, and strive to exceed their expectations.

Another aspect that sets MrMed apart is our emphasis on quality and integrity. We strictly adhere to all applicable regulations and guidelines governing the pharmaceutical industry.

Our sourcing practices prioritize partnerships with trusted manufacturers and distributors, ensuring that the medicines we supply are authentic, safe, and effective.

Stringent quality control measures are implemented throughout our supply chain to maintain the highest standards.

Moreover, our commitment to affordability distinguishes us from other market players. We understand the financial burden of long-term treatments, especially for chronic conditions.

Therefore, we strive to offer competitive pricing and regularly provide discounts and promotional offers to make essential medications more accessible to our customers. Our transparent pricing policy ensures that patients receive fair value for their healthcare expenditure.

Lastly, MrMed takes pride in its dedicated and knowledgeable customer support team. Our team members are trained to assist customers with their queries, provide medication-related guidance, and address any concerns.

We believe in building long-term relationships with our customers and prioritize their well-being throughout their healthcare journey.

In summary, MrMed stands out in the online pharmacy industry due to its comprehensive product range, customer-centric approach, robust quality measures, affordability, and dedicated customer support.

We continually strive to raise the bar and set new standards in the market, ensuring that patients have access to life-saving medications with convenience, reliability, and trust.

With the increasing demand for online pharmacies, how does MrMed ensure the safety and reliability of its operations? What measures are in place to comply with regulatory guidelines and maintain patient privacy?

Devashish Singh: We are an inventory led business, therefore we take ownership of the product and delivery, which were some of the issues raised earlier with marketplace type of e-pharmacies.

And I do believe that in healthcare, the pharmacist needs to own the inventory. When a marketplace ties up with pharmacies and is just a facilitator, it gets into a grey area.

Earlier, one company was reviewing the prescription, another was dispensing the medicine and this is where the challenge of regulation and privacy comes in.

We are a registered pharmacy and have drug licenses and own the inventory. We also have a large team of pharmacists that are regularly trained and monitored that manage prescriptions and interact with patients.

From a technology perspective, our privacy guidelines and security measures are above industry standards and we are working towards HIPPA compliance, which would make us amongst the most secure healthcare applications in India.

Super-specialty medicines often require precise storage and handling conditions. How does MrMed maintain the integrity and quality of these medicines during storage and transportation?

Devashish Singh: The most important aspect in cold storage is having power backups in your inventory holding areas. We have dedicated cold storage facilities with double power back up.

We also do extensive tests on packaging materials used during last mile delivery and their impact on maintaining the required temperature.

I must have personally done over 60 tests on various types of insulated containers, icepacks and other packing material.

MrMed caters to a wide range of medical professionals, including doctors, hospitals, and patients. How do you tailor your services to meet the specific needs and requirements of each stakeholder group?

Devashish Singh: Every stakeholder is different and requires special attention. We are focussed on providing patient centric services right now as we are bootstrapped and do not have the ability to provide discounts as well as credit periods, which is what is require to service healthcare providers.

We do supply to a few providers and even retail pharmacies on an ad-hoc cash and carry basis and that is primarily because of our extensive ability to get rare products at the best price.

What are your success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?

Devashish Singh: If it feels right, give it a shot. A real shot, not half and half. However, be very clear about the economics of the business you are planning to enter. A road to profitability must exist, else you will just scale losses.

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