Q: Does India Need an Accelerator for Healthcare Startups? Ans: Yes.

Vishal Bansal Healthstart
Dr. Vishal Bansal, Chief Executive Officer, HealthStart

There are many startup accelerators in India. Entrepreneurs in the healthcare space need a different treatment. No pun intended. To address the gap, a group of healthcare professionals and investors have gotten together and started HealthStart, a healthcare accelerator. The accelerator recently partnered with the Indian School of Business (ISB) to launch a design focused acceleration program for healthcare startups.

Pradip Jaisingh, the CEO of International Oncology and an angel investor, Raj Airey, a top executive in the health sector, Suhail Chander, a chartered accountant and Vishal Banasal, a doctor turned entrepreneur are part of the accelerator. Earlier today, we caught up with Bansal to know more about the accelerators plans. Here are the edited excerpts of an interview.

What kind of startups will you fund? 

We are looking to fund very early stage healthcare ventures in India. That is, pre-seed and seed stage. The accelerator program is for pre-seed stage companies. Ideally, the venture should be at the proof of concept stage. Most early stage investors in India are from a technology background. And are not very comfortable investing in healthcare only ventures. Although some investments have happened at the confluence of technology and healthcare, not much has been done out of that area. But in the global market, almost one third of investing is happening healthcare. As a group of individuals, we specialise in healthcare.

Typically the funding requirement in this space is high.

We are not going to look at the physical provider space (hospitals and such). We don’t have the funds for that. We are also not going into research space because it has a long drawn incubation period and is capital intensive. Medical device implants is another area where we will not focus. Other than that, almost all areas are open. We are very open to the wellness and disease management space, new business models that make healthcare affordable, any technology enabled healthcare businesses, wearable technology, diagnostics and remote monitoring. We will also bring design focus to this program in partnership with ISB.

Will you invest in all the companies that come to the accelerators?

All companies that we select will be funded and mentored.

What is the typical size of your investment?

For accelerator program, it will range around Rs 20 lakh.

How long will you stay with the company?

It is not a time bound approach. The accelerator will be around 5-6 months. But we will handhold this company as long as we need to because we are investing our money into it.