When Saurabh Arora talks about Lybrate’s achievements, his demeanour is calm and content. His tone oscillates between assured and enthusiastic as he narrates the story of Lybrate—how he brought the most funded startup in the telemedicine space to life. As soon as the subject of competition arises, Arora suddenly shifts to an alert, almost feline defence mode. He has marked his territory. If someone wants to enter it, he needs to know who that is.
Lybrate’s closest competitor Doctor Insta has raised one-fourth of its funding and built a business model inclined towards serving businesses, not users directly. It’s nowhere near becoming a threat to Lybrate. “Real competition,” Arora, founder of Lybrate, believes, “is the guy in the next room, who has the next big idea. Who is thinking out of the box, solving problems we have not yet been able to.”
Arora does not know, yet. It is not the ‘next big idea’ that he will soon compete with. His competition will be the sheer number of users backed by infinite resources. Will Lybrate be able to prepare for what is to come? In short, Jio.
Earlier this year, Reliance quietly launched the JioHealthHub app, exclusively for Jio subscribers. Arora shows the app on his phone. It is just a health data storage app, in beta version. He knows that, but what he doesn’t know is that soon it will bring the doctor to the phone screen. The JioHealthHub app, according to Google Play, has been downloaded between 100,000 and 500,000 times so far. A tenth of Lybrates’ reach at best. But Jio considers each of the 100 million users as potential customers. And converting them to app users is just a matter of time, is Reliance Jio’s motto. Once out of beta testing, the company plans pre-installing the app for every Jio subscriber. And once it gets doctors on the app, JioHealthHub will become ready to compete with Lybrate.
Meanwhile, with $11.4 million from Tiger Global, Nexus Venture Partners and Ratan Tata, Lybrate has proved that there’s a compelling need for teleconsultations between patients and doctors. Since its launch in January 2015, the app has convinced 100,000 doctors to provide e-consultations. It claims that it has 4.5 million downloads and serves as a platform for 6 million interactions a month by way of searches for doctors, health queries and patient-doctor communication. (The Ken could not independently verify these numbers.)
Neither is focused on profits or more users, just yet.