KARACHI: Health-tech startup medIQ has raised $1.8 million in a pre-seed round, CEO and founder Dr Saira Siddique told Dawn in an interview on Wednesday.

The round was led by US-based Amaana Capital and Middle East and Pakistan–focused Cordoba Ventures (CorVCF). The US-based early-stage investor Seraph Group, House of Habib and Tajdeed, which is a syndicate of prominent doctors from the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America took part in the funding round. “Leading” Health-tech angel investors from Silicon Valley also participated in pre-seed funding, which is the equity that a startup raises at an early stage to get its business off the ground. It’s the first direct investment for both Amaana Capital and Seraph Group in a Pakistani startup.

medIQ is the country’s first integrated business-to-business platform providing services a company or insurer needs to deliver virtual care to its members. It also serves individual customers in both urban and rural users by directly connecting them to health service providers.

Up to 90 per cent patients can be treated at home, said Dr Siddique, who’s the “first female solo founder” of a Pakistani startup of this scale. “We’re trying to keep a typical patient, who doesn’t need hospitalisation, away from the hospital. Most patients require only OPD [outpatient department],” she said.

medIQ provides a customisable plug-and-play technology stack along with a network of online pharmacy and laboratory services backed by general physicians, specialists from 32 specialties, nursing staff and homecare teams. It converts medical records to a single profile in a secure electronic record system, promoting data sharing and data analytics for artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions.

“We’ve built a complete digital platform that provides these end-to-end services. There’s no need for any patient to go to the hospital until and unless it’s absolutely necessary,” she said.

The startup has already acquired a customer base of 10m people, thanks to the on-boarding of 12 life and health insurance companies, she said. As many as 300,000 people have already received treatment in the first 18 months of the company’s operation.

“We’re treating 1,000 customers a day. We want to go up to 8,000 customers a day within a couple of years. We also want to expand geographically to 20 cities from the current seven cities,” she said.

In the next six months, medIQ is planning to hold a seed round, which generates funding for setting up full-fledged operations for a validated business idea. By the start of 2023, Dr Siddique said, the startup will organise its Series A round of funding, which is meant for businesses that have demonstrated the potential to grow and generate revenue.

“There’s a lot of demand for this kind of platform in East Africa and the Middle East. We want to expand to those markets as well,” she said.

According to the Pakistan Startup Ecosystem Report 2021 released last month, female-founded startups in Pakistan face barriers in accessing capital. Solely female-founded startups accounted for only 1.4pc of all investments raised in the past seven years, the report said.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2022

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