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01
19

Shailendra Singh first heard of Practo from Indus Khaitan of Morpheus, a seed fund and startup incubator based in India. Started by a group of freshly minted NIT (Suratkal) graduates, Practo was trying something different in the healthcare space.

Shailendra and Shashank tell the story of that first meeting in the Sequoia office.

Shashank ND
Practo

As I was preparing for the Sequoia meeting, I remember wondering why investors rarely asked why I was building what I was building. People always want to know who you are like in the world and about things such as metrics but not about the problem you are trying to solve.


After we shook hands and sat down, Shailendra looked at me and said: So, tell me Shashank…why are you doing this?


That’s when I started talking and explained to him how I felt healthcare was broken. Billions of people in the world could live much better lives if we could help them make better healthcare decisions. That was the only problem I was interested in solving – everything else is just noise. By the time I was done, an hour had gone by.

Shailendra Singh
Sequoia

One thing stood out for me in that early meeting. Shashank was a very idealistic and very committed founder, wanting to do this for the rest of his life.

Shashank ND

I didn’t discuss the business plan but I did show him the impact we were already having and that our belief was being proved right – if you build great, useful products, people will use them – so I showed him one slide with a list of all my customers. I think he liked that slide and the fact that I had managed to go out and get these customers on a scalable platform.

Shailendra Singh

On paper, it wasn’t a large category and adoption was still sluggish. There was a 23-year old unproven founder. But user reviews were already stellar. Before Practo, we had never seen anybody do anything with doctors and that too with a great product. And he could explain the little nuances of the product.

Shashank ND

The meeting lasted an hour and a half (with me doing most of the talking). At the end of it, Shailendra said that Sequoia would consider investing in this company. I didn’t know how to react. I wasn’t sure if he was serious.

Shailendra Singh

I realized that it may take a while for the healthcare market to play out but it was a very nice starting point. At the end of the meeting, I told Shashank that I would have to convince the Investment Committee, but I was in.

Shashank ND

Sequoia wasn’t known for investing early in young companies. In fact, just before the meeting, I clicked pictures and sent it to the team, telling them this was perhaps the only time we are going to be inside a Sequoia office. One of the few times I’ve been happy about being wrong.


The day before that happened, we had four digits of capital in the bank. Suddenly, this number went up to eight digits. I still have that screenshot of the account balance going from four to eight digits.

Shailendra Singh

I asked the partners to indulge me even though we were not doing too many early stage investments at that point in time. That’s a bit of the Sequoia philosophy in play – if someone is pounding the table and is convinced about a company, the rest of us are not going to get in the way.

Shashank ND

From day one we were very clear that we wanted to solve this problem for all of mankind. This is not about building businesses, or being entrepreneurs and getting investments. For us, it’s always been and always will be about building great products that solve real problems faced by humanity. We didn’t set out to be lifelong entrepreneurs. We set out to solve a problem.

Shailendra

Here is how Shashank sums up his vision for the company: LinkedIn – for professional networking, Facebook – for social networking, Practo- for healthcare.


It’s pretty crazy but why would you have it any other way?

Practo
Practo is a healthcare app that allows consumers to find doctors, book appointments and conduct online consultations.
Milestones
  • Founded 2008
  • Partnered 2011
Founders
  • Shashank ND
  • Abhinav Lal
Investment Advisors