Lunch&Learn: How not to run out of money

At last week’s Lunch&Learn we hosted an inspiring and personal talk from Rinesh Amin, Co-founder of DrDoctor. DrDoctor was the very first member to join Health Foundry back in August 2016 and are considered a health tech success story. Rinesh shared with us, the ins and outs of DrDoctor in the early days and how they achieved the hard task of not running out of money in those tough early three years.

The three co-founders of DrDoctor Tom, Perran and Rinesh, were working together 9 years ago troubleshooting in healthcare as consultants. They quickly realised that they could fix some issues but couldn't scale or sustain them, so DrDoctor came out of that realisation.

The three founders quit their consultancy jobs on a Friday and formed DrDoctor on Monday, back in 2012. They had an idea of building a digital booking platform for the NHS and applied to tech for good incubator Bethnal Green Ventures, which is so far the only investment they have ever had. Getting onto the Bethnal Green Ventures programme forced them to quit their jobs which made them lean in their decisions - they knew they had to make something purchasable to the NHS right away.

Rinesh showed us a very personal and revealing slide showing their finances from 2012 to 2015. As a company, they were laser-focused on their cash flow from the beginning. In November 2012 they received their first NHS contract to develop a system for Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust based on a personal contact that they had there from their consultancy days.

Rinesh gave the insight that their technology doesn’t work without working with the people implementing it. They focus on winning hearts and minds of the staff in the Trusts they work with and changing cultures. In the early days, and still to some extent today, they based themselves within the department and sat with every person to help them implement their tech.

Rinesh then went on to explain how DrDoctor has expanded and what they do now as a business model. The three founders all work very differently and they compliment each other by aligning their different skills.

As DrDoctor has grown (they are now 24 staff), they have moved from founder based sales to team-based sales and are now more procedural. Rinesh quoted “Cash is King, Profit is Sanity” when asked about their financial habits from the start. They now have 6.5 million people using their platform annually. Amongst other areas, they are now leveraging this scale to digitally enable trusts to move away from time-based follow up appointments to ones based on patient need. The aim here is to get better outcomes for patients while reducing follow up volumes and clinical risk.

Rinesh said the most important thing to take away from the Lunch&Learn was perseverance and urged the startups in the room not to give up - no matter how tough things get.

A massive thank you to Rinesh for an inspiring insight into the early days of startups. Do join us for our next Lunch&Learn on 12 April when Jamie Foster, a partner at Hempsons, will talk about how GDPR will affect Healthtech start-ups.