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‘We are trying to implement total automation across the supply chain’

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Pharmarack, a health-tech start-up offering a subscription-based solution  to revamp pharma industry’s upply chain matrix, has caught the interest of marquee VCs like the Patni Group’s Currae Healthtech Fund and Unicorn India Ventures. Pradyumn Singh, Co-founder and CEO, Pharmarack elaborates on his solution’s ability to bring efficiency in the processes of pharma companies, increase their revenue and reduce costs, in an interview with Lakshmipriya Nair

201704ep28In an age of disruptions, how will your solution bring in a paradigm shift in the pharma industry’s supply chain?

The entire pharma supply chain has not changed for the last 20 years from the technology perspective. When I say that, it means the last technology used by them was the billing software. So, what we are trying to implement is total automation across the supply chain. All supply chain players are awestruck since they haven’t seen any techonology improvisation in the last two decades. Our impact/value through our applications is clearly seen on topline and/or bottom line, besides bringing in productivity and efficiency throughout.

What are the three major challenges in India’s pharma supply chain? How can Pharmarack provide solutions to these challenges?

The pharma industry has seen innovation in medicine and cures for deadly diseases through bioscience and medtech. But, if those cutting edge medicines and technologies do not reach the intended users on time, then the whole purpose fails. Even today, in a digital world, a pharma distributor works with the age old method of a pen and paper, which bring in a lot of inefficiency and leakages. We could easily gauge inefficiency in the supply chain. On one side there are five per cent return goods due to expiry and other reasons while on the other side there are estimates that there is a parallel 25 per cent counterfeit medicine market of the overall India domestic pharma market. Our solutions delivered through technology directly address these challenges.

In an industry which has been wary of change, how has your solution been received?

Two years back, when we tested the beta with some common friends in the industry, their feedback was encouraging. We fixed a few bugs, added more features as per the feedback and rolled it out commercially. I’m happy to share that this service didn’t require any large marketing investments from our side because the need for such a product already existed. Our product was lapped up in cities like Pune and Mumbai where we launched first. As we kept signing new users for the platform, it reached a point where educating our customers became a priority. Our customers are accustomed to old ways of maintaining registers to plan their supply chain. Now we were giving them a technology in an app or a desktop version, so migrating to it and adopting it as a way of business was an organic challenge. We knew that our first few happy customers would convert into getting more on board, so in the early days, my co-founder and I went on client service calls to educate our customers and showed them the various features of our product. This initial legwork actually paved the way for more customer inquiries, which got converted successfully. We are now implementing technology solutions to engage with our users.

How are you tackling the challenges faced from the industry?

The industry hasn’t tried any new technology in past 20 years, so initially it was a bit challenging to bring about a change. However, we feel lucky that we hit the sweet spot at the right time, not too early and definitely not late. We are pioneers in what we are trying to implement and lead this domain so far. Today, we have overcome the resistance phase due to our viral recommendations across India. We get at least four to five leads daily, not only from India but also from other countries.

You had raised funding last year, how has it fuelled your growth plans ?

We have raised close to a million dollars from Unicorn India Ventures and Currae Health Tech Fund. The funds raised have been used to build our technology stack, making systems more intelligent at the back-end to give intuitive service to its users. We have used the funds to hire more talent, which has helped us expand into new geographies in four states – Maharastra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Currently, we have close to 800 distributors and 12,000 retailers using our product. Six companies are using our services.

Can you give us the number of subscriptions you have so far?

We have almost 800 distributors on board and we have a trial period for them. We have a pretty decent percentage of active users and subscribed users as compared to the industry standards.

How does Pharmarack enables firms to bring in cost and time efficiencies?

A large Mumbai-based pharma distributor has been with us for over a year. The said distributor has seen his supply chain costs going down by as much as 50 per cent and topline increased by 20 per cent in 9 – 12 months of going live on our platform. Perhaps, that’s the reason our subscription renewal is 100 per cent.

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