An indisputable measure of success for us is when the entrepreneurs we back build scaled profitable businesses that don’t just make crores of rupees for everyone, but also impact millions of lives. With each investment, we spent time evaluating, irrespective of whether the firm makes it to our anti-portfolio or not, we learn and adjust our assumptions. This learning feeds into our thesis on timing, market size, sectors/sub-sectors and impact in similar businesses we may see in the future. There are a few start-ups we evaluated but ultimately did not invest in. One of them is healthcare financing platform Affordplan.
Affordplan is innovating at the intersection of fintech and healthcare, both core areas of our investment focus. We loved the team—strong operators with experience of building and scaling a people-heavy business. However, we had questions about customer adoption. At the time we evaluated the company (2015), they were yet to launch the product and had little early feedback data from potential customers. While we had a strong belief that digitally-enabled, goal-based savings products that work towards predefined critical objectives will succeed in India, there was not much evidence of such products, barring gold savings. Indians are not very preventative in their healthcare outlook and we questioned the motivation of the BoP to save, particularly for non-emergency healthcare procedures.
Affordplan has raised $12 million over three rounds and is scaling well. While we are unsure of the extent of focus on the lower income segment in their current form, they proved that our thesis about savings products is correct. We keep in touch with the founders and track the progress of these firms. This serves as a way for us to introspect on whether we were right to not invest and whether our assumptions were right or not.
Radha Kizhanattam is investment director at Unitus Ventures