Saurabh Arora had his best poker face on during a July 2017 interview with The Ken when he said the revenues of Lybrate, the telemedicine startup he founded, were growing. The company’s financials for the year ending March 2017 hadn’t been filed yet. However, Lybrate’s revenues had grown to Rs 22.4 crore ($3.3 million) for the year ending March 2016 despite the company only being founded in 2014, so it was hard to doubt him.
Lybrate and the limits of telemedicine
India’s first institutionally-funded teleconsultation startup tried many ways to build a sustainable business by connecting doctors to patients via technology. Its struggles hold clues about the future of Indian telemedicine
Telemedicine was touted as the tech-enabled solution for India's poor doctor-to-patient ratio, and Lybrate was the first VC-funded Indian company in the space
Lybrate's business model of a marketplace for doctors has failed as patients are unwilling to pay for consults
Its competitors like Doctor Insta and Mfine are focused on the quality and reputation of doctors instead, while SoftBank-funded DocPrime has kept teleconsults free
All these disparate models offer clues as to the future of India's telemedicine space