Emergency health care needs are scenarios whose implications we don’t have to be told to imagine. We have thought of them at some point. They are very real and can happen to you or the next person. It is a reality that cannot be escaped and thus everyone would like to secure all bases whenever possible.
But what should one do when they are in an infrastructurally disabled country like India? When an emergency strikes we are unaware of the first number to call? Of course, there are the central emergency numbers but are they really effective? Will they take you to your desired doctor? Will they even come one time? How much will they cost? There is complete uncertainty about ambulances or emergency paramedic services in this country. Unlike the United States, which has the 911 dial for all emergencies service, India lacks a centralized point of contact which is also effective and efficient.
This same uncertainty was faced by Shaffi Mather in 2000 when his mother had an unforeseen medical emergency in her sleep one night. The lack of proper accessible infrastructure pushed Mather to act on the situation and thus in 2004, he co-founded a company called Ziqitza Healthcare Limited.
Before MUrgency was a prospect, Mather’s founded a company called Ziqitza which is an emergency ambulance fleet. It is a chain of 1298 ambulances which provides emergency healthcare services in Mumbai, Bihar, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Kerala. The company, until 2018, has provided services to almost around 50,00,000 people in the country.
While the success fo Ziqitza is commendable, this wasn’t enough for Shaffi Mather whose entrepreneurial spirit was hard to contain. Thus, in 2014, he also came up with, MUrgency- one-stop, emergency healthcare, a mobile app which would later take many other sub-companies under its wing.
MUrgency (or One Global Emergency Response Network) is a healthcare mobile app the connects people who need emergency responses with hospitals, medical staff, and doctors.
But how does it work? Essentially its just one button on the app to activate emergency response services.
“With MUrgency, all it will need is a tap on the smartphone, and emergency response will be available. By 2020, our vision is to make this service available to anyone, anytime, and anywhere. The first few calls you make will actually take up 5-10 minutes. Here what we are saying is a tap on the phone and we will provide the response in less than 10 minutes. “
The app one the supply side aggregates medical professionals and their specialties. Be it orthopedic, paramedic, accidental, etc. Everyone on one single platform. On the demand side, the user can alert these professionals or get on a call with them via the mobile app. This will notify the personnel on the supply side so that they can provide help on time. The app can also be used to notify emergency contacts, friends, or family.
“Initially, getting the supply side in place was difficult as people naturally don’t trust a new player. But, we managed to create a competitive place, which is now automatically encouraging everyone else to join.”
Currently, MUrgency takes a fixed cut from the total pricing while the rest is passed onto the proprietors.
“The pricing strategy was based on the destination and we easily managed it. Here we have not been able to figure out how to manage it but we are trying different options and like how we came with this logic for the ambulance service we should be able to take care of people who do not have the ability to pay.”
The startup has currently run only one seed round in 2016. This round roped in two investors- Ratan Tata and Axilor ventures with Axilor being the lead investor.
This amount of money raised in this round is currently unavailable in the public domain.
Along with the best call to emergency services MUrgency also offers other services for basic security, protection, and caution. There are three accessory services:
Virtual Body Guard: This allows women to share their can details, location, and driver details while taking public or private cab services. This can help trigger emergency helplines or contacts if the need arises.
“The BodyGuard feature on the MUrgency app is getting a very positive response from women across the board. Designed to help women feel safe wherever you go, the app gets your friends or family to watch over you, with one tap. We believe that empowerment for women is the freedom to work, travel and live without fear.”, says the Director, Sweta Mangal
ShoutOut: This is a feature that will alert all MUrgency users within a radius of 500 meters to 50 kilometers of the users when a situation arises. This radius can be customized.
Nearby: Nearby is a map like services that gives the details of emergency facilities such as police stations, hospitals, or rescue centers nearby
The potential for MUrgency, just like other healthcare and well-being apps in the country is immense. What these apps run by private companies are doing is making up for the huge infrastructural and organizational gap that the government has left behind.
It capitalizes on the lack of basic services which helps not only their business grow but provides extremely essential but unavailable services to regular citizens.
And this display of trust is showing in multiple forms.
Currently, the company is growing at a rate of 20% increase in users week-on-week which just shows how an essential service can be quickly caught on. Along with this, MUrgency also won the “Start-Up of The Year” award at the Startup Grind event in Silicon Valley.
Shaffi Mather’s vision is to make the app present globally by the year 2020.