Interview with Rahul Shukla, Co-Founder at LabsAdvisor

LA Screen Shot

[This interview is sponsored by workspot.in , India’s leading aggregator of co-working spaces, meeting rooms and shared offices. If you have additional office space and are looking to rent it, please do list it on workspot.in. If you are looking for space for your startup, do visit workspot.in]

 

LabsAdvisor is an online platform that connects the customers to diagnostic labs and allows online booking for the same. It was founded by Ashish Bhatia and Rahul Shukla in Feb 2015, with Bharti Balakrishnan as the chief advisor. The company puts a lot of stress on quality of its services and has a very strict criteria for including a lab on its platform. Firstly, an in-house pathologist visits the lab and rates it on various parameters, the lab is then included on the platform only if it meets the benchmark set by the company. LabsAdvisor also provides ratings for the facilities being offered by the labs and gives the user the options of checking the lab’s distance from his/her home, availability of a female radiologist, parking space etc.

This start-up run by Supath Healthcare Services Pvt. Ltd. is doing pretty well in the unorganized diagnostic labs sector of our country and has recently raised around Rs 1.2 crore in an initial round of funding from a group of undisclosed angel investors. They plan to invest the received funding for expansion of operations and for better technology. They currently have around 120 labs on board across Delhi and also offer medical tests in close to 200 cities.

Let’s learn a little more about this healthcare start-up from Rahul Shukla, the co-founder of the company.

labAdvisor

Give us a snapshot of your professional journey till now.

My professional journey started as a Design Engineer for car parts after graduating from IIT Delhi. Design work led me to the headquarters of Ford Motor Company in the USA, where I grew into a Team Leader before deciding to broaden my horizon and explore new opportunities through MBA at INSEAD, France. After MBA, I worked with a renowned strategy consulting firm Booz & Co. in London before heading back to India. In India, I did a stint in Investment Banking with Tata Capital and then moved back to management consulting with Accenture. In my last job before LabsAdvisor, I was Partner and COO in a healthcare consulting firm Axience.

When & how did the entrepreneurial bug bite you?

While I was in consulting, I often wondered about my ability to create something impactful through an entrepreneurial venture. As I faced the prospect of quitting a well-paying job with a very respectable company, I found it difficult to make the drastic shift of starting my venture, with no salary and investing my own savings. Hence, I decided to work in a small firm that offered regular salary & much greater operational freedom to implement my ideas. A short stint in Axience soon convinced me that I was ready for this thrilling ride and also increased my interest in healthcare. When my Co-Founder Ashish discussed the idea of LabsAdvisor, I instantly liked it and decided to join hands with Ashish to start LabsAdvisor.

What were the early days at LabsAdvisor like?

Early days at LabsAdvisor were quite action packed, while we tried to balance brainstorming, strategy development and implementation of small activities. Much of our focus also remained on hiring and team building which was in line with our plans of marketing & operational expansion. While there were many passionate debates and some fast paced learning, we also found natural strengths of different team members to develop an efficient team structure and laid the foundation of a collaborative, exciting and nurturing work culture.

LabsAdvisor_Team

Can you please describe what a typical day at office is like?

This is a tough one! As is known, things move quickly in a startup and so it is difficult to describe a typical day in office. It may include a quick discussion with the team on our broad plan of activities or a detailed discussion about a specific event, followed by some calls with our partners or collaborators. Usually a day is wrapped up with a quick round of e-mails to be followed up urgently.

Can you tell us about the technology stack used at Lab Advisor?

We are using java, SQL and JSP

How are you using Business Intelligence and analytics at your company?

We are using business intelligence and analytics to understand customer preferences in certain localities, preferred marketing activities, language of communication and the most preferred attributes. This analytics is helping us offer better customized products to different groups of customers.

How else does technology help your company stand apart from its rivals?

We have to ensure that our technology solution makes our customers’ life easy – from information gathering to booking. Hence the design of the website and seamless flow of processes is well thought through. This makes the navigation very easy and is an advantage for us.

What are some of the attributes you look out for in prospective technology employees?

We primarily look for common sense and the ability to find out solutions to business problems pro-actively. Sometime technology employees are focused on technology for the sake of it. However, it is important to understand that technology is a tool to solve business or social problems and not an end in itself.

How do you keep up to date with the latest happenings in the technology world?

I have subscribed to many newsletters and technology blogs. I keep an eye out for innovations in the western world. My network with the CTOs in other start-ups also helps in mutual exchange of ideas.

What gets you excited about coming to work every day?

There are two things – impact on society and professional growth. An opportunity to bring about a positive change in society and to help out a needy patient through our knowledge gives me a great sense of satisfaction. Further, ability to implement my ideas gets me very excited about coming to work every day. As a professional and student of business, no platform can match the opportunity a startup offers, it is similar to a fresh, empty canvas that you can paint in your colours and observe how well it is liked and appreciated by others.

What sets LabsAdvisor engineering culture apart?

From a technology or engineering standpoint, we are the only company in healthcare technology space to build a hyperlocal/location-based search facility. We are driven by intense customer focus and excellence in technology to develop extremely customer-friendly business solutions powered by advanced technology. This customer-oriented approach for technology defines the engineering culture of LabsAdvisor.

Which LabsAdvisor value resonates best with you?

Transparency and quality! We started LabsAdvisor with a vision to improve transparency in healthcare diagnostics, an otherwise very information-opaque industry. Secondly, we believe a basic minimum level of quality must be maintained in healthcare and so we developed our own quality rating mechanism and we show only the selected, good quality labs on our platform. Both these values resonate strongly with my personality.

Any piece of advice for the techies out there?

Diligence and customer orientation are very important. I’ve seen many techies, looking to take shortcuts while coding. It saves time once but leads to many quality issues and more time required to fix the bugs later on – this can be avoided by careful planning and diligence in the first attempt. Secondly, customer orientation is extremely important and many techies seem to lose sight of this easily, this in turn leads to products that may be technologically strong but not appreciated by the customers.

 

[This interview is sponsored by workspot.in , India’s leading aggregator of co-working spaces, meeting rooms and shared offices. If you have additional office space and are looking to rent it, please do list it on workspot.in. If you are looking for space for your startup, do visit workspot.in]

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