The health care market is receiving increasing attention from entrepreneurs around the world looking to improve a complex field. Modern medicine continues to face budget deficits and inferior technology in both developed and developing nations. Health care IT (Internet technology) has taken off in the last few years. Also active is the field of ecommerce — across all sorts of niches, including health care.
eCommerce Within the Ayurveda Health Care Niche
Nirogam, an Ayurvedic product e-retailer, finds itself competing in an already booming natural health market. Nirogam Founder, Puneet Aggarwal, was born into the merchant class in his native India. His father was an entrepreneur running a metal fabrication factory. After his graduation in 1998, Puneet followed his father’s lead and started a business. This first venture, Ivycomm Systems, addressed a growing need for online presence as India began to adopt the Internet.
Puneet’s work introduced him to research scientist Dr. Pushpa Khanna, who had recently discovered an insulin-like substance in plant form. As her new website gained traction, Dr. Khanna developed an oral tablet of the substance known as Gourdin. She then asked for Puneet’s assistance in selling it online. His initial outreach to those who had shown past interest was immediately successful. Taking a cue from their first product, by 2002 the two had expanded their offering to 10 herbal products.
This shift toward all natural health solutions is based on an ancient Indian system known as Ayurveda, a system of alternative medicine emphasizing natural methods of healing and good nutrition.
There is a strong bias within U.S. and U.K. regulatory authorities favoring conventional pharmaceuticals over holistic medicine. This strongly affects sales and addressable market, despite the growing popularity of Ayurveda in the Western world, especially in places like California. In India, of course, Ayurveda is a known and highly respected science with a large number of existing brands offering products across various categories.
Nirogam is intended to educate patients regarding alternatives to modern drugs, and to provide a resource for those seeking a holistic option. In addition to natural wellness products, Nirogam offers herbal supplements, organic foods and natural cosmetics. The site is designed as a discovery platform, unlike the marketplaces of close competitors HealthKart, NaturalMantra and Satvikshop. This model captures a wider audience.
As many potential buyers are unfamiliar with the solutions offered, Nirogam offers an informative guide based on known symptoms. Nirogam also has an active social media presence and provides a forum for relevant medical discussion on their company blog.
It’s a Family Affair
The business is a family affair, and Puneet often seeks business advice from his mentor and father Satish. In turn, Satish must be proud of his son. Nirogam’s annual revenues are nearing half a million dollars, with a monthly growth rate of 15 percent.
Puneet plans to expand to additional niche markets in health care. New websites will follow the current model, providing comprehensive diagnostic information as well as a community and commerce.
Back in 2007, I published my formula for web 3.0 — an integrated user experience that is context-specific and brings content, commerce and community together, alongside vertical search and personalization. Nirogam has brought together, in the context of Ayurvedic medicine, most of those elements.
In the future, personalized diagnosis may be a service to add to the roster. Conceivably, somewhere down the line, you could be dialing into a video-conference with an Ayurveda doctor in Kerala to get a personalized consultation for that pain in your upper back. If you are interested in exploring the ancient science of Ayurvedic medicine, Nirogam is worth a look.
Ayurveda Photo via Shutterstock