The First of its Kind

-Dr. Shreyash Aggarwal, Dr. Preeyati Chopra

PlexusMD is medical news and career app which helps doctors access breaking news, guidelines, clinical trial outcomes, new product launches, and the latest research from 1000+ journals worldwide. The app also helps doctors discover and apply to a wide selection of jobs, fellowships, and courses from 500+ industry partners (including Apollo, Fortis, HCG, NH, CFS, AIIMS, PGI, and other prominent companies). It was founded by Dr. Rohan Desai, Dr. Binal Doshi, and Kinnar Shah in 2014 and was backed by some of the country’s top Healthcare and Investment professionals.

We had the opportunity to interview one of the founders, Dr. Rohan Desai for our magazine. Dr. Rohan Desai is an MBBS graduate from Gujurat University (2002 Batch) and an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahemdabad (2008 Batch). Currently, he is working as the founder of PlexusMD and stays in Ahemdabad.

Thank you so much sir for giving us this chance to talk to you and bringing to light the story, hardships, and success behind PlexusMD.

We are eternally grateful.

Why did you choose to pursue MBA after MBBS rather than the conventional way of opting for an MD? 

“It’s just what works for you and what will motivate you and what will make you happier.”

When the time came to decide on his career beyond MBBS, Rohan Sir went through a phase of introspection which was not as put together as it seems on paper. He kept three things in mind, first – he was sure he wanted to do something in the field of healthcare, being from a family of doctors and also being a doctor himself, he wanted to keep it at the heart of whatever he did. Secondly, his need to make a change that affected millions of people, even if the said change had a small impact if it improved the lives of millions it was worth a shot to him. Thirdly, his need to express his creativity in the work he does. He’s always considered himself to be a creative person and to be able to show that side of him in his
work was important to him.

After exploring a lot of fields by taking upshot courses and through his own research into what he saw himself doing, he ultimately decided to pursue a management related to healthcare and started his journey which would then lead him to start PlexusMD, a first of its kind venture in India.

What was the idea behind starting such a venture and finding the right team? 

“To make an impact on things is easier to do as an entrepreneur, really, than from within an

While pursuing his MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, keeping in mind the goal of creating something that has an impact on a lot of people along with pooling his creativity in one place, it became clear to Rohan Sir that he wanted to go into the entrepreneurial field rather than just work for MNCs. He & his friends would brainstorm a lot of ideas, discuss them, drop them because of the lack of feasibility and do it all over again the next morning.

The idea for PlexusMD started to come around when he saw how doctors are appointed for a new job in a new city – they have to drop their CVs in the HR department, wait to hear back, be called for an interview, and sometimes things got lost in communication. The whole process is very time-consuming with very less efficiency. The thing that irked his mind during this time was – why was there not a community for medical professionals to discuss new advancements or job opportunities in the field when platforms like this existed for engineers or designers? Why did the medical professional handle things more offline than use the technology to solve the problem?

While working with a healthcare consulting firm, where he regularly proposed large private hospitals on the staffing patterns for their new hospital establishment – the question that was repeated popped up was –where will the doctor come from? How do we locate a doctor willing to work in this city?

He realized the problem was not actually the demand or the supply. The gap was in the
communication process and thus, PlexusMD was born.

‘Serendipity’ was his answer when we asked how he met his fellow founders of PlexusMD. He had a few ideas in mind on the kind of person he wanted with respect to having a medical background or a tech background but other than that he saw the potential of a co-founder in everyone he met during the initial days.

He met Dr. Binal Doshi through a family friend and things clicked when both of them sat down and explored the idea of this venture. He met Kinnar Shah through a friend who initially joined as a consultant partly but ultimately ended up working full-time in the role of the co-founder for this venture.

What were the challenges faced while starting such a venture? 

“There’s a lot of challenges in fact is way too many challenges and their ongoing. Some of
them are ongoing. Some of them you crossed.”

One of the major ongoing challenges Rohan Sir emphasized is customer adoption, we are not only competing with we apps of our genre but also Instagram and tik tok which are more fun in a way. At the end of the day, PlexusMD is basically competing with another app for your attention.

“Challenge inherently is that it is a knowledge platform. It helps you stay updated. It helps you take better decisions. It helps you, practice better medicine, we have tools and calculators, and you can take courses. Everything is knowledge and knowledge is not. Fun all the time or cool or sexy.”

The idea is to make a place for PlexusMD in your life, whether it is when you are waiting in line for your coffee or when you are commuting to work, it is to create such content and ease of use in the app that you want to use it.

Secondly, there was the challenge of making it sustainable and staying on the market for a longer duration. Things that are fun tend to stay for a longer duration but then there are examples like Pokemon Go that went as fast as it came. The idea is to not only start a venture but also to keep it going and actually create a meaningful impact.

Revenue is another huge obstruction. Rohan Sir mentioned he was fortunate to get his family & friends to invest initially but he emphasized the point of establishing a more independent and permanent revenue line because no one can just give keep on giving a venture their money. Hence, selling the investors on the idea of PlexusMD and its sustainability was a task.

The doubt came not of its utility but how big could it be? After all, it was an app designed to be used only by doctors which won’t even be a million people. Therefore, hindrances like these were very common during the initial days.

Getting people involved to give your venture their time and skills was initially very difficult. Rohan Sir pointed out that PlexusMD does not have an HR department or even a record of the attendance of its employees because he believes that people should work here because they actually want to be here and keeping a particular punch in time or punch out time is not necessarily required if the people who make up the team have the trust and work hard for its growth.

He considers that certain mistakes like bad hires who could set you back by a couple of months of progress or losing certain investors are bound to happen and you cannot have a perfect journey but you should count every mistake as a lesson and learn from it.

What do you think of PlexusMD’s role in the future of healthcare?

The vision and the for PlexusMD has always been an ambitious one. The idea behind taking a doctor–centric approach to improving the quality of delivery of healthcare in our country has been taken by a few as of now.

Rohan Sir pointed out that the app and all the working around it have been focused on making an ecosystem where all the stakeholders in the healthcare have a platform to be connected in one form or the other with an aim to make the system as a whole more efficient, more accessible and thus, a better shot at the quality of healthcare.

The app started by featuring news from various medical journals which had the idea of democratizing access to knowledge and therefore helping every doctor who joins the platform to be better updated with the advancements.

In the near future, they are aiming to launch tools & calculators sections that can be used by an ophthalmologist for example to check the color vision etc. Providing the basic tools for better delivery has been the foundation of every upgrade in the app. They might even be looking to set up a telemedicine feature if the timing works out!

The partnerships with various governments and healthcare delivery agencies have also helped them launch courses for medical students as well as general public awareness.

When asked to how much of the vision the platform has already covered, he said it’s just the beginning and the scope for improvement is endless.

If given a chance to do it all over again, what is the one thing you would do differently? 

“Making good decisions is important and unlinking outcomes from decisions is very important.”

Rohan Sir emphasized on was his lack of work experience when he started his MBA. It was a clean slate for him when he went in, he discussed going for a degree like MBA even with a work experience of 2-3 years makes a lot of difference because it helps you to understand and appreciate the case studies and the quality of teaching better.

As far as PlexusMD, he mentioned a few tactical errors made but would not go as far as calling them regrets but mistakes from which he learned and improved for the future. There are certain mistakes bound to happen, a person cannot make all the right decisions but can learn from them and not repeat it again is what matters at the end of the day.

What is your opinion on doctors venturing out of the medical profession and carving
their niche in non-clinical areas? 

“People should be free to pursue what they’re passionate about and what they are strong at.”

Rohan Sir highlighted the importance of the fact that whatever career path you would choose, you should not fill yourself with doubts like – ‘Can I do it?’ The answer to such questions should always be ‘Yes’. There is nothing that differentiates two human beings other than the belief in what the person does and their passion for it.

He brought up the point that doctors, in general, can aim to go into any field after MBBS and not only MD because as whole group doctors are generally very hard-working and bring a unique perspective to the problem. Doctors going to technology or working as bureaucrats can happen and if something like that interests someone, they should definitely give it a shot.

What message would you want to give to the coming generations in the field of medicine?

“There is not shortcut to success, the only way is to work hard for it.”

In a world that is becoming increasingly fast-paced, impatient, and superficial, the only way to outlive all this and be the last person standing is by focusing on your foundation. Comparing yourself with other people does not work in the long run.

At the end of the day, it does not matter if you have 34 years of experience or 35 what matters is the foundation you have and how you treat your patients or work in any field you choose to be in.

Knowing yourself and keeping that as your guiding compass will always help you make the right decision even if it takes you longer to reach your goal. There is no need to rush things, taking your time and working at your own pace is the idea you should have in mind.

– Rohan Desai

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