With a population of 1.37 billion India has only 0.59 Physiotherapists for every 10000 population. As per the statistical data by WHO (World Health Organization), there should be one Physiotherapist for every 10,000 citizens in India. Considering the Indian Population reaching 1,395,685,875 as of the date (24/06/2020), the demand for a number of physiotherapists in India is around 1.4 lacs.
According to a recently published Pharmaion report, “India Physiotherapy Equipment Market Opportunities, 2010 – 2020”, the physiotherapy equipment market in India is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 12% during 2015 - 2020, on account of the increasing prevalence of cardiovascular and neurological diseases, expanding elderly population and escalating demand for at-home physiotherapy. Moreover, growing awareness about the therapeutic benefits of physiotherapy such as improving mobility and strengthening affected body areas is significantly propelling demand for physiotherapy equipment in India.
Subodh Gupta is the Founder and CEO of ReLiva Physiotherapy & Rehab. He was a volunteer fellow at the startup Leadership Program in Mumbai in 2018. ReLiva Physiotherapy is a physiotherapy expert with a large network of physiotherapy clinics, hospital outsourced physiotherapy and home visits.
ReLiva - The Physiotherapy Department
Subodh says, “At Reliva we are building a platform to build comprehensive recovery and rehab support to patients with physiotherapy the prime driver. We have a PAN India network of physiotherapy clinics where we partner with hospitals to run and manage their physiotherapy department. Currently, we are in 42 locations in 11 cities. We also have a fairly extensive home network. We also offer a condition-specific digital therapeutic program for patients. Our objective is to reach out to the patients in whatever condition they have. As long as physiotherapy can play a role in their recovery and improvement, we should have an offering for them.”
Subodh Gupta started Reliva in 2014. The objective was to build a specialization in physiotherapy. He was an investment banker before starting Reliva.
Subodh shares, “The inspiration for Reliva comes from my mother, a chronic pain patient who suffered for almost 10 years and finally had spinal surgery which made her better. After looking into it and seeing how it works, I was convinced that this needs to be a lot more consolidated than what it is in India. It's been a journey of 8 years in this process. We have a very capable and competent team of physiotherapists.”
USP of ReLiva
Subodh explains, “Our objective is to provide comprehensive recovery and rehab support to the patients. The patient comes in different shapes, forms, comfort, and capabilities. A lot of patients may not be in a position to go digital, and it will not be fair to them. It’s important that as a healthcare organization, we are able to offer a place where patients can be treated very safely. One of the key things in physiotherapy is that it is extremely inconvenient. Digital helps in a way in making treatment a lot more convenient and accessible to patients. Having said that not all patients suit that treatment and it’s not fair also to push all patients into a digital model. It’s important to have a full scope of services for patients. Our USP is to provide comprehensive services to patients. The patient should have an option to come to the clinic as and when needed. Because there are a lot more things a patient can do in a clinic.”
Funds and revenues of ReLiva
Subodh informs, “We do about 15000 sessions with 3000 patients every month. In the last 7 years, our team would have probably seen more than a lakh of patients. We are bootstrapped. Funding from investors is like taking steroids or rocket fuel. First, the startup has to be in a certain place before raising funds and fortunately, we are reaching that place.
Each session price is approximately Rs. 400. This would give you an idea of our revenues. Since January we have been adding 1 location every month. Post-COVID comfort in coming to clinics and taking physiotherapy sessions is increasing. Adding a new location is giving a 4-5% growth every month.”
Scaling and expansion plans
Subodh mentions, “With our partners, we have made a great difference in how physiotherapy works in those hospitals. Hospitals have seen tremendous growth in the physiotherapy department with our input. From the ReLiva perspective, physiotherapy is not just musculoskeletal and neuro. We treat a lot more than what people think we do. Depending upon what practices the hospitals have, we can add value to every specialization.”
Challenges of an entrepreneurial journey
Subodh emphasizes, “We started as a bunch of individual clinics. We started as standard OPD physiotherapy clinics, but here scaling is difficult in terms of infrastructural challenges, and facility management issues. And while partnering with hospitals, our customers change. In clinics, the customer was the patients but in hospitals, consultants became our customers. In hospitals, consultants can put their input on the things that are right or wrong. Hospital has certainly given us a far more capable team clinically. So, this partnership with hospitals really helped us in scaling up.”
Lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs
Subodh advises, “A lot of people get into a startup to look for funding. But first, it’s important for people to figure out what business they want to do. Funding is something that is required when your business is ready to take. Building up a business is like doing sudoku. You start with a bunch of empty squares and you fill them one by one. As you fill the square the whole puzzle becomes much easier. In the same way, you can solves all your challenges and difficulties one by one, It will really help you.”
(Edited by Renu Gupta)