Every minute 100 people get hospitalized in India and 30 health insurance claims are filed. 7 out of 10 amongst the middle class population in India do not have any health insurance and those who do are typically underinsured as average cover in India is Rs 5 lakhs. At 60%, out-pocket-expenses in India is 3X the global average. For a majority of the population, proper medical treatment is still a mirage. What is not an illusion, however, is the ‘Grand Plan’ Piyush Jain is steadily unleashing to correct this picture in the avatar of ImpactGuru - a tech driven and empathy fuelled healthcare crowdfunding window that allows people to raise money quickly in a hassle free manner without any payback liability. It’s a plan that is noble in its spirit, breathtaking in its scope and so far, heroic in its achievements. “ImpactGuru’s mission to help India’s people find crowdfunding solutions primarily for healthcare as well as social change”, sums up its creator succinctly.
ImpactGuru.com is India’s leading healthcare financing platform for patients and raises money online for medical expenses via online crowdfunding such as Covid-19, cancer, transplants, and accidents. It aggregates a large number of online payments to allow any individual requiring financial assistance to raise funds for any social cause. Crowdfunding is an alternative method of raising funds online for medical expenses, with the patients or their friends or family, primarily relying on social media networks to mobilise donors to finance the relevant medical bills. Typically, each of these donors contribute relatively small sums of money online to help raise a much larger goal amount. For example: 500 donors contributing Rs 5,000 each can mobilise Rs. 25 lakhs for a cancer surgery or organ transplant in less than 24 hours.
With his grounding in investment banking, management consulting, emerging markets, tech startups and investing, Piyush Jain wears many hats, each carrying multiple feathers. But it is ImpactGuru - where thousands of families can discover new light of hope by crowdsourcing funds for medical treatment - that is arguably the cap he wears with the greatest pride and satisfaction. A ‘calling’ (which he simply couldn’t turn a deaf ear to) to make healthcare more affordable in India inspired Piyush Jain to start up ImpactGuru – genetically a Fintech firm - in 2014. Six years on, the crusade marches on relentlessly, one inspiring ‘rescue operation’ at a time. Says Piyush with conviction in his eyes, “We believe saving lives is a service. With the help of millions of donors online, who step up to generously support friends, colleagues and strangers with contributions, we are trying to reach each and every individual across India to ensure that no life is ever lost due to lack of money.”
An undergraduate from Wharton Business School (University of Pennsylvania, USA) where he was a Joseph Wharton Scholar and a graduate in public policy from Harvard University, Piyush was an M&A investment banker with J.P.Morgan (New York, Hong Kong, and London) and also a management consultant with BCG (Southeast Asia) before his odyssey in the healthcare space. At Harvard, he had assisted Professor Thornburg in teaching a class on Financial Management in Nonprofit Organizations and co-authored a paper on innovative ways to finance entrepreneurial and social ventures. In some ways, that’s where the seeds of ImpactGuru lay. The startup bug bit him before long, and he decided to take the plunge with an idea that would, while keeping society first, blend purpose with profit optimally. Having spent almost a decade abroad, setting up a business in his home turf back in India was in itself the call of a new adventure, and an exciting decision.
From insufficient insurance coverage or prohibitive treatment costs, ImpactGuru has taken on a very real challenge faced by countless Indians everyday. By saving lives, Piyush Jain’s team has also shown millions of families a way out of the ‘credit trap’ which they inevitably fall into by taking loans at high interest rates. ImpactGuru - accessible on both Android and iOS - claims to be the only crowdfunding platform in India with an AI supported story builder where the company helps campaigners narrate their unique situation compellingly to potential audiences. When the patients’ family is too busy fighting the crisis, the team thoughtfully steps forward and creates the storyline for them, making a big difference. All of this has not only changed the game, but is steadily re-engineering mindsets too. With the supportive shoulder of ImpactGuru by their side at their direst hour of need, families of the affected feel far more empowered to face the battle ahead. Corroborates Piyush, “Crowdfunding will continue to grow exponentially driven by medical fundraising given that 500mm+ middle class population have no health insurance and the vast majority of those who do have it are underinsured in an environment of rising healthcare costs.”
A family based in Kolkata put up a fundraiser on our platform as they were in urgent need of funds to cover Air Ambulance cost as their son met with a fatal spine injury and was admitted at a hospital in Silchar. In two hours the fundraiser crossed its target goal of Rs. 10 lakh. Total raised was Rs. 13.73 lakh.
15-Year-old Deekshit required funds for his mother’s rectal prolapse surgery. A fundraiser for his appeal was put up on our platform. In 3. 5 hours, Deekshit’s fundraiser surpassed the target goal of 15 lakhs on ImpactGuru. Rs. 16.10 lakhs was raised in total from 1083 donors.
Mumbai resident Amit Shenoy, admitted at Apollo Hospital Navi Mumbai raised Rs. 45 lakhs in 7 days through crowdfunding on ImpactGuru for his Allogenic Stem Cell transplant.
Every journey has its Eureka moments – the ones that make us pause, ponder and marvel. That stroke of revelation hit Piyush early in 2017. He recollects the incident with fervor in his tone, “One of the striking moments that come to mind with regards to my professional journey as an entrepreneur at ImpactGuru.com was our successful fundraiser for a Hyderabad based patient, Harish Rohra. Harish needed an urgent kidney transplant. I vividly remember the day when Harish was able to raise his entire goal amount of Rs. 8 lakhs, a first for us, and successfully got a kidney transplant done. It was one of the first few success stories of ImpactGuru way back in early 2017. This case was the first time we realized the scale and possibilities of the healthcare financing opportunity. That moment was striking because for the first time I realized that the problem I was solving was not just a startup business opportunity but a far bigger one – one that would ensure that no Indian dies due to a lack of funds for critical illness expenses. I realized that what our platform provided to Harish was, more than anything else, a ‘fighting chance’; A fair shot at winning against the odds - be it chronic illness, medical emergencies or financial stress – which was precisely what the majority of Indians lacked.
ImpactGuru’s archives are an inspiring repository of stories of courage and tales of triumph. Mumbai resident Amit Shenoy, who was admitted to Apollo Hospital in Navi Mumbai for Allogenic Stem Cell transplant, found new lease of life when ImpactGuru helped him ‘crowd-raise’ Rs 45 lakhs in just a week. Fifteen-Year-old Deekshit’s appeal for funds for her mother’s rectal prolapse surgery was met with a tsunami of concern and surpassed its target in just two hours. COVID-19 brought out the ‘warrior face’ of ImpactGuru, with corporates and philanthropists choosing the platform to lend a generous hand - not only propping up the Covid coffers, but also helping distribute food, medical supplies and PPE kits. A remarkable collaboration during the time of social distancing, lockdown and uncertainty, ImpactGuru.com raised over Rs 15 crores from over 800 COVID-19 related fundraisers to support daily wagers, the elderly, healthcare workers and even animals who have been impacted due to the crisis.
3 MONTH OLD BRAVELY BATTLES A RARE GENETIC DISEASE WITH IMPACTGURU
A current fundraiser that is witnessing accelerated increase in donations is for 3-month-old Teera Kamat. Teera is diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 1. SMA is a rare genetic disease that attacks the baby’s nerves and muscles, and as it progresses, makes it extremely difficult for the child to carry out basic activities like sit up, lift their head, swallow milk, and even breathe. Zolgensma, a one-time gene replacement therapy, which in her current state could be a potential “cure”. Commercially Zolgensma is available in the USA for approximately USD $2.1 million (INR 16 crores). In 1 month, the ImpactGuru fundraiser page received over 1000 social media shares and 8284 donors have come forward and cumulatively contributed 2 crore and 39 lakhs. impactgu.ru/teera
Piyush’s efforts have received recognition and endorsement at all levels. For instance, he is being constantly showered and surrounded by the love of those whose lives he has benefitted, something he considers the highest validation and reward of the journey he has chosen. “We frequently receive various verbal and written notes of gratitude from patients and their families. A Thank You from them makes us incredibly happy as we witness the impact we have been able to create through our platform”, shares Piyush.
The industry, too, has stepped forward with hat-tips and pats-on-the-back. Amongst notable accolades won by Piyush’s team are the Maharashtra Startup Week 2019, The Economic Times Intelligent Health & Tech Awards (2020) for Best Technology Solution For Social Good, the TechCircle Public Choice Award (2018) for Best Social Impact Startup and the Businessworld TechTors Awards (2018) for Tech Companies To Watch Out For. Piyush Jain himself has featured in Fortune’s 40 Under 40 List (2019) and 2019 Businessworld 40 Under 40 List (2019), apart from winning the Entrepreneur India Awards (2019) and taking home honours in the Social Entrepreneur Award category.
The healthcare sector’s conviction in Piyush’s idea and its optimism in its potential has seen organizations reach out to this trendsetter. Case in point : The investment in ImpactGuru by the Apollo Group, Asia’s largest healthcare group. Not only did Apollo invest in Piyush’s idea and lead its US $2mn Series A-Round, but also agreed to offer ImpactGuru’s healthcare financing solutions to thousands of its own patients across Apollo’s hospitals in the country which number over 70. This transformational partnership was the first one between a crowdfunding platform and a large hospital group in India. The significance of Apollo’s gesture was quickly picked up by others and today, several leading hospitals are partnered with ImpactGuru. Indeed, the company is now connected with over 1500 hospitals across the country at various levels to help their patients raise funds.
In April 2020, ImpactGuru.com received a Rs. 40 lakh grant in the form of matching funds from The Action Covid-19 Team (ACT) to scale fundraising for Personal Protective Equipment for doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers across India. ImpactGuru will add upto 20% in matching donations via the ACT Grant on every single donation for selected Public and Private Hospitals on its platform. Funds will be directly transferred by ImpactGuru and ACT to suppliers of PPE to ensure 100% transparency in utilization of funds. With the funds raised so far on the select fundraisers, ImpactGuru.com facilitated supply of over 42,000 PPEs which includes N95 Masks, 3 Ply Masks’, boxes of Gloves to various Hospitals namely - Max, Nanavati and Cygnus.
Explains Piyush, “The demand for healthcare financing of critical illnesses is a huge market opportunity with crowdfunding being the only feasible solution, considering very high treatment costs and high default rates for loans for critical illnesses. To ensure fundraisers receive maximum funds, in August 2020, we introduced the 0% ImpactGuru Platform fee option. It is available for many groups - patients facing medical emergencies (such as Covid-19, cancer, organ transplants), for nonprofits fundraising for their programs or for individuals raising money to fund animal causes, education expenses or any other cause they are passionate about.”
Every passion starts with a muse. So what keeps him going? What are his inspirations and motivations? Piyush captures his vision and mission with a smile, “Life is a Gift. I definitely feel incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity and the privilege to be educated, have a home, a family. My ambition is to use my skillsets to do something meaningful in terms of impacting as many people as possible. Currently that mission is manifested in the form of ImpactGuru which is essentially trying to help patients fund critical illnesses. Our ambition is to make an extraordinary impact through our platform, help finance the critical illnesses of over 1 million / 10 lakh patients over the next decade.
What about insights gleaned along the way (for there must have been many)? Piyush is happy to share the pearls of wisdom picked up at each milestone of his journey, one that is sure to stand his peer entrepreneurs in good stead : “Persistence is very important to be a successful entrepreneur. One has to showcase incredible amount of grit and determination regardless of the challenges. You need to keep learning continuously no matter where you are in the journey whether you’re an early stage entrepreneur or serial entrepreneur. Our learning has been to obsess about customer satisfaction. What should be the future direction of the company comes from listening attentively to what customers want.”
No matter from which angle you look, ImpactGuru seems to have a bright future. So what are his future goals? What are the milestones he intends to cross over, say, the next 5 years? “There is tremendous scope to scale and we believe we are just getting started! We want all patients suffering from critical illnesses to raise funds successfully on ImpactGuru.com. Our ambition is to make an extraordinary impact through our platform, help finance the critical illnesses of over 1 million / 10 lakh patients over the next decade”, shares Piyush with the excitement only a true-blue entrepreneur who is on the threshold of grander horizons can feel
Piyush Jain has stirred up what could potentially alter the terrain of healthcare irreversibly. After all, affordability is the biggest hurdle to democratizing healthcare today, a wall ImpactGuru is steadily and systematically trying to break down. Amongst other things, this means the name Piyush Jain will stay embedded in the corridors of Healthcare’s Hall of Fame, so to speak, for a long time. We broached the topic by asking him how he would like to be remembered. Like all great minds, Piyush kept it simple yet profound: “As an individual trying to leverage his knowledge and skillsets to its absolute best!”
For the upcoming band of leaders and idea merchants, there can be no greater guru than the architect of ImpactGuru. His advice for them is this : “I think learning is very important, puts lot of things in perspective.
1. Invest in knowledge. Read a lot about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship via articles, books, news. Listen to podcasts and watch videos of the success journeys of entrepreneurs as well as the mistakes they have made.
2.Take risks. There is only one life. Don’t live life with regrets. Nobody has achieved something extraordinary in life without taking risks. Returns are usually correlated with risks.
Piyush prefers to sign off with a purposeful message: “If you come across someone who is in need of funds for their critical illnesses, please reach out to us. Or if you are keen to explore an association or partnership with us or share a suggestion, please write to us. I’m reachable at email@example.com”.
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