A $100 million investment in a single round? That’s not usual for the Indian health-tech space.

However, Mumbai based e-pharmacy PharmEasy is apparently in talks with multiple investors for that exact figure. 

PharmEasy has stayed mum about investments, but an investment banker says that it’s the frontrunner among Indian e-pharmacies for the coveted $100 million. The investment banker is one among many trying to figure out a way to broker an investment deal between large multinational investors—namely SoftBank, Naspers and Temasek—and PharmEasy. 

The company could reach or cross the coveted figure of $100 million fundraise in its Series D (but most investors don’t expect its valuation to go up to $1billion). It appears to be following the footsteps of Chinese e-pharmacy 111 Inc, which was once an investors’ darling. And it has come far. 111 Inc went public in the US last September, with an enterprise value of $945 million, just shy of the $1 billion tag that accords a startup the ‘unicorn’ status.

PharmEasy and 111 Inc have a fair bit in common. But most significantly, both companies have focused on building a pharma distribution or a business-to-business (B2B) channel alongside a retail or business-to-consumer (B2C) business.

PharmEasy started in 2014 as a hyperlocal online pharmacy. The drugs ordered online were largely acquired from neighborhood chemists. Two years in, it moved on to establishing a technology that connects the drug distributors with retailers or the neighbourhood chemists. Also, it started to invest in building infrastructure and processes for distribution. It became an asset-light intermediary coordinating supply to make sure that the majority of drugs are available to its users via existing distributors and retailers, and that they’re home delivered. This model differentiated PharmEasy from its contemporaries—1mg, Netmeds and Medlife. And aided growth. 

Its distribution subsidiary Thea Technologies’ revenue rose from Rs 14.3 lakh ($19,941) in the year ending March 2016 to Rs 110 crore ($15.3 million) two years later. PharmEasy, unlike the other three major e-pharmacies, has shown a commitment to distribution. While its rivals prefer to focus on the B2C aspect of the e-pharmacies like manufacturing private labels and getting close to the manufacturers by eliminating the middlemen, PharmEasy wants to be the middleman in the Indian e-pharmacy market – estimated to be $350 million in 2018 and growing at 42%.

Still, the four leading Indian e-pharmacies share a common past. First, they’ve managed to win over suspecting policy makers, some who were conducting raids and issuing bans on online sale of medicines even a year ago. Later this month, the government is expected to notify draft rules favouring sale of drugs by e-pharmacies.

AUTHOR

Ruhi Kandhari

Ruhi writes on the impact of healthcare policies, trends in the healthcare sector and developments on the implementation of Electronic Health Records in India. She has an M. Sc. in Development Studies from the London School of Economics.

View Full Profile

Subscribe to read this story

The Ken is the only business subscription you need. Questions?

 

Premium

  • 5 original and reported longform business stories every week
  • Access to ONLY India edition
  • Close to 250 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters
  • 4 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to ONLY Southeast Asia edition
  • Close to 200 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to all paywalled stories since March 2020
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters

Rs. 2,750 /year

$ 120 /year

India Edition
Subscribe Subscribe
Most Asked For

Borderless

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories

Rs. 4,200 /year

Subscribe
 

Echelon

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 5 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories
  • Bonus annual gift subscription
  • Priority access to all new products and features

Rs. 8,474 /year

Subscribe
Or

Questions?

What kind of subscription plans do you offer?

We have three types of subscriptions
- Premium which gives you access to either the India or the Southeast Asia edition.
- Borderless which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions
- Echelon which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions along with a bonus gift subscription

What do I get if I subscribe?

The Premium edition gives you access to stories in that edition along with any five subscriber-only newsletters of your choice.

The Borderless and Echelon subscription gives you complete access to The Ken across editions and unlimited access to as many newsletters as you like.

What topics do you usually write about?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics. We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

Our specialised subscriber-only newsletters are written by our expert, award-winning journalists and cover a range of topics across finance, retail, clean energy, cryptocurrency, ed-tech and many more.

How many newsletters do you have?

We are constantly adding specialised subscriber-only newsletters all the time. All of these are written by our team of award-winning journalists on a specialised topic.

You can see the list of newsletters that we publish over here.

Does a Premium subscription to your Indian edition get me access to the Southeast Asia edition? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

We recommend the Borderless or the Echelon Plan which will give you access to stories across both editions.

Do you have a mobile app?

Yes! We have a top-rated mobile app on both iOS and Android which allows you to read on-the-go and has some amazing features like the ability to bookmark stories, save on your device, dark mode, and much more. It’s really the best way to read The Ken.

Is there a free trial?

You can sign up for a free account to experience The Ken and understand our products better. We’ll send you some free stories and newsletters occasionally, and you can access our archive of previously published free stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

The vast majority of our stories, articles and newsletters can be accessed only by a paid subscription.

Do you offer any discounts?

Sorry, no. Our journalism is funded completely by our subscribers. We believe that quality journalism comes at a price, and readers trust and pay us so that we can remain independent.

Do you offer refunds?

No. We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Just write to us at [email protected] with details. We’ll help you out.

I have a few more questions. How can I reach out to you?

Sure. Just email us at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter.