In 2021 Yahoo! Finance did a survey on 15 of the most profitable businesses to get into. Healthcare support and services came in at a robust no 8. This might not seem high but consider, they say, the waves of COVID-19 gripping the US. “Healthcare is a “need,” not a “want.” Medical treatment is expensive and extensively required by the entire population in these tragic times.” The survey adds that “As essential and fundamental as it is, the healthcare support and services industry has a net income of $53.8 billion and a 26.98 per cent return on investment. It does not come as a surprise to see this industry make it to our list of the 15 most profitable industries in the world in 2021—the gross profit for healthcare services values at $320.5 billion.”
Does this inspire you to want to run into a building and launch a health start-up? Hold that thought. Like every other start-up that has ever existed, it all starts with a good idea. Let me correct that – a viable idea. In a 3 April 2023 article in Tateeda titled How to Launch a Healthcare Startup: The Guide to Building Great Health-tech Products, acknowledges there are many areas to plug into with the health wagon ranging from “… treatment of chronic and age-related diseases while drawing attention to mental health recovery and maintaining general wellness and a healthy lifestyle.” At the same time, apparently, few health start-ups survive the early stages.
Aside from that, the healthcare sector is one of the initial adopters of digital transformation. It makes the healthcare industry one of the toughest areas to build a medical startup in practice not just because of legalities and regulations. High-security standards as well as the complex nature of the healthcare relationships make entry into the market tricky.
This sounds discouraging but if you are angling for, or already have a health start—up, then you would need a solid plan because “Healthcare (and health-tech) is a market segment you cannot expect to take by storm. Unlike most sectors, starting a healthcare business requires you to traverse a rocky road of licensing and adherence to rigorous regulations while dealing with government institutions, pharma, and the medical professional community,” states Tateeda.
Healthcare is not to be trifled with. The digital healthcare sector is, it would seem, among the most funded and rapidly growing industries. It is expected to surpass $42.22 billion by 2027. “In this total market revenue, experts estimate that the digital fitness and well-being segment will be able to acquire a major percentage with a total revenue of about $17.71 billion by the end of 2022,” according to Appinventiv’s blog post How To Build A Medical Start-Up.
Launching a health start-up in Africa is no different from any other entrepreneurial endeavour. It requires careful planning, preparation, and execution. Here are some key steps you may need to take:
- Identify a Health Need: Research and identify a specific health need or problem in Africa that your start-up aims to address. Such needs and problems could be related to access to healthcare, health education, telemedicine, medical supplies, or any other health-related challenge that needs innovative solutions. Identifying a need is critical. This is where your profits and revenue lie. If you can’t get customers for your product, then the market doesn’t need it.
- Develop a Business Plan: Create a comprehensive business plan that outlines your start-up’s goals, target market, revenue streams, marketing strategies, and financial projections. A solid business plan will serve as a roadmap for your health start-up and help you secure funding and partnerships. A business plan serves multiple purposes so you need to take your time and get it right.
- Secure Funding: Seek funding to support your health start-up. This could come from various sources such as angel investors, venture capital firms, grants, crowdfunding, or partnerships. Be prepared to pitch your business idea convincingly and demonstrate its potential for success.
- Build a Network: Establish a strong network of partners, stakeholders, and collaborators in the health industry in Africa. This could include local healthcare providers, government agencies, NGOs, and other relevant organizations. Building relationships and partnerships can provide support, resources, and credibility to your start-up.
- Navigate Regulatory Requirements: Familiarise yourself with the regulatory landscape of the health sector in Africa. Understand the legal and regulatory requirements for operating a health start-up, including licensing, permits, certifications, and compliance with local laws and regulations. This is a sample of Nigeria’s checklist.
- Develop a Product or Service: Create a high-quality product or service that addresses the identified health need in Africa. This could involve technology solutions, innovative medical devices, health apps, or other healthcare-related products or services. Ensure that your product or service meets local regulatory standards and is culturally appropriate.
- Implement Marketing Strategies: Develop and execute effective marketing strategies to promote your health start-up be it locally, regionally or continental. This may include digital marketing, social media campaigns, partnerships with local influencers or organisations, and other marketing efforts to raise awareness and attract customers or clients.
- Provide Quality Service: Deliver high-quality services or products that meet the needs of your target market and World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. Focus on providing value, building trust, and establishing a positive reputation for your health start-up. Word-of-mouth recommendations and positive reviews can be invaluable for growing your business.
- Monitor and Adapt: Continuously monitor and evaluate the performance of your health start-up. Collect feedback from customers, stakeholders, and partners, and be willing to adapt your strategies and offerings based on market demands, challenges, and opportunities.
- Seek Professional Advice: Seek advice from experienced professionals, such as lawyers, accountants, and business consultants, who can provide guidance and support as you navigate the complexities of starting and running a health start-up in Africa.
Launching a health start-up is certainly challenging, but it is also one of those start-ups that are highly rewarding because you get to directly impact the lives of others. Like any other start-up, it is important to be persistent, adaptable, and committed to making a positive impact on the health and well-being of the local communities you serve.
To test the mettle of your healthcare start-up, you might want to consider applying for HealthPitch. We are looking for six start-ups to join us for an exclusive opportunity to pitch their ideas to an audience of potential customers, investors, and policymakers. Simply fill out this application form with your details and a brief overview of your technology.
We look forward to hearing from you and seeing the latest innovations in the health technology sector.