LAHORE: Lahore-based health-tech startups Marham.pk has claimed raising $1 million in seed funding to scale into a healthcare superapp.
According to a statement from the company, the seed round was led by Indus Valley Capital, a Pakistan-focused Venture Capital fund founded by former LinkedIn executive Aatif Awan, which has earlier invested in Pakistan’s Airlift and Bazaar. The round also includes participation from Indonesian angel investor Weihan Liew.
The startup has earlier raised $150,000 from friends and family, Asma Salman Omer, co-founder at Marham, told Profit, bringing the total raised by Marham to $1.15 million if the claim is true.
Founded in 2016 by Asma and Ehsan Imam, Marham.pk further claims to be the first digital platform that helped patients find qualified doctors and book appointments via a website, mobile application, and a telehelpline. The startup further claims that it has registered 20,000 doctors from 67 cities in Pakistan and has helped over 10 million patients through its network.
“Our vision is to build a healthcare ecosystem, for patients, doctors and hospitals to ensure faster care and better experience via technology, processes, and telemedicine-enabled micro-clinics across Pakistan,” said Ehsan Imam, CEO and co-Founder at Marham, in a statement.
The Superapp ambitions
According to Asma, Marham plans to become a superapp where patients will be able to get overarching healthcare services at a single platform. From appointment booking to tele and video consultations, medicine delivery, and lab tests, Marham plans to provide all of these services.
“We are already providing these services but the scale is small and we want to aggrandize it now to a bigger level,” says Asma.
The concept of the Pakistani healthtech superapp is yet to conceive a formal winner. In fact, Marham is the only one to officially call itself a superapp that provides an all-encompassing set of services. However, other startups in the same space are also up in the game to provide all-around services, without officially calling themselves a superapp.
For instance, Augmentcare is also on the path of creating a health tech superapp that provides all-around healthcare services on a single platform. Augmentcare provides all of the services Marham provides like doctor discovery on the platform, consultation and post-consultation services, and plans to introduce more services. Likewise, Dawaai.pk, which is essentially an online pharmacy, also started providing adjunct services like teleconsultations and lab testing during the pandemic.
Other startups which are competitors to Marham include Oladoc, Sehat.pk, Sehat Kahani, Web Doc and Ring a Doctor. Many of these startups are well-funded compared to Marham.pk, with Dawaai.pk claiming to have raised $8.5 million in a venture round this year, whereas Augmentcare, Sehat Kahani, and Oladoc have also raised over $1 million in funding. On how Marham plans to compete with startups that have raised over a million dollars already, Asma was optimistic that they would leave others behind in user experience.
“The funding is going to go towards improving service quality on the platform. We will also be expanding growth infrastructure, on user acquisition and growing the team,” says Asma.
According to the startup, their journey to spread their service across 67 cities in Pakistan and helping over 10 million patients was bootstrapped since inception and now with available funding, Marham plans to establish itself as a formidable player in the healthtech industry and expand its services to smaller cities and rural areas.
The funding for Marham comes during a momentous 2021, with a total of $120 million raised by Pakistani startups in the first half of the year. Though the amount raised is twice as much compared to last year during which the startups raised $66 million, the bulk of the funds thos year have been raised by eCommerce and fintech startups so far.
Funding into health tech startups has remained lackluster with only 8% of the funding going into healthtech startups during the first half of the ongoing year. Sehat Kahani claimed to raise $1 million in a pre-Series A round in March this year, whereas Dawaai.pk claimed to raise $8.5 million in June 2021. Marham’s is the third official announcement of fundraising by a health tech startup this year and we are hoping of more funding going into the healthcare technology sector which has also witnessed forced adoption during the pandemic like eCommerce startups.