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How start-up Doceree is powering the programmatic physician marketing space

While the global pandemic has bought economies to a halt and massively disrupted businesses, it has also fuelled start-up dreams and we even saw several Indian start-ups achieve Unicorn status during the pandemic period. The times have never been better for the budding entrepreneurs to give wings to their start-up dreams.

The Government, too, has come up with various schemes to support its ‘Vocal for Local’ drive. A case in point is the recent Rs 1,000 crore Start-up India Seed Fund announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Start-up India International Summit 2021 held earlier this year.

Adgully is turning the spotlight on the entrepreneurs who fought against all odds to bring their dreams to fruition in our special series – START-UP STARS. We at Adgully wholeheartedly support the ‘Vocal for Local’ movement and over the next few months will be featuring all local/ homegrown businesses, brands and Apps.

During his stint as a healthcare advertiser, Harshit Jain, Founder & Global CEO, Doceree, worked extensively with consumer brands. It is around that time he noticed how pharma industry was almost a laggard in digital adoption. On the contrary, consumer marketing evolved remarkably by adopting digital technologies in over a decade’s time. Trying to understand why this was so, the underlining issue turned out to be the mental block pertaining to regulations that stopped pharmaceutical brands from taking the big digital leap. This is when Jain thought to address the gap through Doceree. The platform is disrupting the physician marketing landscape much in the same way digital ad networks transformed the consumer marketing space. 

In conversation with Adgully, Harshit Jain, Founder & Global CEO, Doceree, speaks at length about how his company is streamlining the scattered pharma marketing landscape as well as how boundaries have expanded to digital which has grown at a skyrocketing pace. 

What need gap did you want to fulfil with your start-up? What is the core business proposition?

Doceree is streamlining the scattered pharma marketing landscape. Right now, pharmaceutical brands are acting independently with not much in-depth knowledge of digital – for them it is more of a checkbox activity that doesn’t lead to satisfactory business outcomes. On the other hand, digital platforms are also operating as standalone entities in the absence of a unified platform, losing on the monetising opportunities available via network effect. Doceree is the first global platform in the programmatic physician marketing space to integrate physician-only digital platforms across the globe and enable pharmaceutical brands to precision target Physicians at the right moment with the right message to be able to drive behaviour change and help them achieve desired business outcomes. 

How did you identify your TG? Did you carry out any feasibility study prior to starting your business?

Our target audience is physicians. Through our platform, we are enabling pharma brands reach out to them on digital platforms meant for healthcare experts. Also, simply drawing parallels between digital consumer marketing and digital pharma marketing made it evident that pharma industry was not very open to digital mediums and that was pretty much for us to think about a solution that elevate digital adoption in the industry. 

What were the challenges that you faced in your start-up journey and how did you overcome them?

Compared to other start-ups, challenges were actually limited for us. We launched our services last year and by the time we spread our wings, COVID-19 happened. This was a blessing in disguise for 2 major reasons: 1) The situation was already turbulent for Pharma companies, and 2) Our product acted more as a solution to issues Pharmaceutical brands were facing on the front of regulations and compliance. While marketers and business teams were already scrambling for solutions and were quick to convert in this time of emergency, their legal, compliance and regulatory departments weren’t prepared. For them, Doceree’s regulatory compliant product proposition was a huge breather in the uncertain times. What our product could deliver in terms of regulations and compliance could not be matched by digital platforms, and that reduced the challenges substantially for us. 

What were the clearances that you required for your venture from various authorities?

To start our venture, we made an application with Corporate Affairs Ministry and some formalities were then performed, including announcing the shareholding pattern. Post that, we got our TIN number and then we were good to go. 

Funds/ finance is the prime issue of almost all start-ups. What can the industry and the Government do to address this issue and ease the capital requirements of start-ups?

The Government has started a lot of funding initiatives for start-ups, which is encouraging. But I feel we are still away from the stage where start-ups have access to these funds. I feel private sector should come in and join hands with the government so that Pharmaceutical organisations can set up start-up funding organisations. 

Prime Minister Modi announced a Startup India Seed Fund earlier this year. How do you see start-ups benefiting from it?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pro-start-ups. I feel setting this kind of fund encourages entrepreneurs and helps create a nurturing environment for them to come with innovative ideas and take risks to bring them to fruition without any constraints. 

How is digital helping you further your business?

Doceree is all about digital. Surviving without digital would have been extremely challenging for us. Marketing does not happen anymore in just the traditional way of doing meetings in person. The boundaries have expanded to digital which has grown at a skyrocketing pace. 

What were your key learnings from 2020? How do you see the start-up ecosystem progressing in 2021?

The very learning was that there is an opportunity in every challenging situation. It was just at the time when the COVID-19 outbreak happened that we launched our services. While that was panicking, we gathered ourselves and thought of how valuable our product would be for pharma brands at a time when sales representatives were locked indoors. Our digital solution turned out to be a big breather for pharma marketers in providing them access to Physicians. The pandemic accelerated adoption of digital among pharma brands. I see extensive use of digital technologies going forward for marketing purposes as it is now an essential tool to reach out to the target audiences. The outbreak has certainly given a fair taste to Pharma brands about how important digital tools are. Having gained from the experiences from the current situation, Pharma brands will now be far more receptive to digital means going forward. 

What would be your message for the budding entrepreneurs?

Follow Your Dreams. It is the only advice I give others as I follow it myself. I quit my well-placed job to start Doceree. It is a difficult decision to make when you are in a leadership position, spoiled with all kind of comforts. It certainly wasn’t easy for me to leave everything and start building everything form scratch. But when you are passionate about fulfilling your dreams, you are courageous to take that leap.

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