Bengaluru-based health tech startup Janani is spearheading a mini-revolution in the fertility space. The platform leverages technology to provide one stop solution for sexual and reproductive wellness. Janani’s co-founder Mr Nilay Mehrotra, an expert in IoT and digital space, launched the platform in June 2020 to make the process of infertility treatment and assisted fertilisation more affordable and transparent.
As per WHO estimates, around 3 crore Indian couples experience problems with infertility every year. India accounts for more than 30 percent of the global infertility market which is pegged at USD 36 billion. And with the ever-increasing numbers, this industry is yet to explore its true market potential. In an interview with Plunge Daily, Nilay Mehrotra shared how technology has been a major enabler in Janani’s journey and its overall impact on the fertility industry.
1) It’s been around a year since Janani was launched. Please take us through your entrepreneurial journey.
A: In July last year, while getting Janani registered I came up with an idea to create a marketplace for the IVF industry. I went with a similar pitch before investors in September and was able to close a very small pre-seed round of Rs 1.5 crore in October. It was around this time, I got in touch with renowned andrologist Dr S SVasan who is a pioneer in this industry and has about 40 years of experience. He was exiting the Manipal Group and looking to explore new avenues. He also felt that digital transformation is the way forward and came onboard as Janani’s co-founder and Chief Medical Officer and that was a turning point for our platform.
With his vast experience and my execution capability, we created a completely new Janani or Janani 2.0. So, from an IVF marketplace, we evolved into a space providing end-to-end 360 degree solutions for reproductive health and sexual wellness. And now we are breaking new grounds with our new offerings. For example, we recently launched the first-of-its-kind at home semen testing kit in Bengaluru. We are witnessing a strong traction for this product which I must say is nothing less than revolutionary. Our vision is to break the taboo around semen testing and make it just like any other diagnostic test.
2) Please tell us about the tech-based solutions offered by Janani and the role of technology in propelling its growth.
So, we have divided our services into four major segments-diagnostics, sexual health, reproductive health and reproductive medicine surgeries. . All these four segments are backed with a strong tech support which is headed by our Co-founder-cum-CTO Raj Garg, As you know, our concept is to provide at home services, all our products are driven by technology. Be it our assisted natural pregnancy programme or our products for sexual wellness or even diagnostics, everything is backed by technology. One of the key things that I would like to add here is that we are taking care of the privacy of our customers. The kind of data we are having is very private to each individual. We cannot have access to their reports as they are password protected. We are using several cybersecurity tools to protect the data. We are also working on a new tech for masking the contacts so that nobody including us could know the identity of the customer. So, all in all, we have created a very robust system with the technology being a major enabler in our journey.
3) As we know there is a tremendous amount of stigma associated with infertility in India. So, do you see Janani playing a role in creating awareness and minimising the stigma?
There is no denying the prevalence of stigma around infertility in Indian society but you can minimise it by creating informative as well as engaging content. Our marketing team is creating a lot of innovative content breaking common myths around infertility and also putting out important information for the benefit of the masses.
For example-how many of us really know that a young cancer patient can become permanently infertile after undergoing chemotherapy. In some cases, sperm production might return, but can take many years, and sometimes does not return at all. We will soon be launching a campaign to create awareness about fertility-related issues among cancer patients. So, if a young cancer patient wants an offspring in future he can definitely take a proactive measure and preserve the sperm with Janani.
4) Covid has put the world in a medically tough spot but it has also accelerated the growth of tech-driven platforms. So, please share with us the challenges and the opportunities that came along with covid.
Covid has definitely been tough for brick and mortar businesses across the world but for us it has been a blessing in disguise. We launched our business in May last year in the middle of the pandemic. From May 2020 to June 2021, we have seen a jump of 400% in our business. Due to the pandemic, people are looking for a solution which is more convenient at home. So for us, it’s more of an opportunity than a setback.
5) ) There are 100s of infertility clinics and IVF centres offering treatment to couples. So, what sets you apart; how is Janani different from others?
If you would visit an IVF centre, chances are you would be pushed to IVF even if you have minor fertility issues. Primarily due to this reason, people lose trust in such agencies. That’s where we are different, we are a very process driven organisation. If you have a mild to moderate fertility score then you will be taken to the ANP programme which is a six-month natural conceiving programme where we monitor the ovulation period, offer fertility-nutraceuticals developed by Janani. We will soon be launching a pregnancy booster kit which will be a gamechanger in the market. It would be a patented technology which will help to increase natural pregnancy by 15 percent at home. And IVF is a last resort for us, in that case we have partnered with the existing facility. We are organising the unorganised market of IVF. We have partnered with non branded IVF clinics who are good ethical IVF clinics.
6) Please tell us about the company’s funding. what, according to you, makes investors confident about Janani’s growth.
We have raised USD 1.2 million in seed round in March, That was preceded by Rs 1.5 cr pre-seed round in October last year. So, we have raised close to 9.7 crore till now. One of the major reasons our investors are bullish about us is, there is no holistic institution in this country offering solutions for reproductive health and sexual wellness. There is no brand that says, 90% of your problem can be solved at your home at your convenience. Also, The quality of the team which we have built over a period of time has helped us gain investor confidence. My co-founder Mr Vasan is a pioneer in the industry so his joining increased the credibility of the brand itself.
7) please share with us your expansion plans and the future of tech-based infertility treatment services.
We will soon be expanding to Mumbai, then we have also plans to start our services in Hyderabad, Cochin, Kolkata but it also depends on the pandemic situation in the country. As far as the future of the industry is concerned, infertility rates among young men and women are rising because of lifestyle changes. Issues like stress, late marriages, sedentary lifestyle have led to a lot of infertility related issues. Going by current estimates, around 20% of Indian couple will experience problems with infertility. I must say that the kind of volume we are seeing everyday on our new platform makes us very optimistic about our future