Ash Kalraiya, Founder & CEO
Ash Kalraiya, Founder and CEO of MediShout, shares his insights on how his experience as a surgeon led him to launch the start-up, the story behind its growth and its future prospects.
1. Tell us about MediShout, how and why did you come up with the idea for the company?
Before founding MediShout, I worked in the NHS for over 10 years as an orthopaedic surgeon. Working in healthcare, I grew increasingly annoyed with the operational inefficiency of hospitals. As a young doctor I was continuously frustrated with all the avoidable problems that were occurring with IT, infrastructure, equipment, stock and all the other things you essentially need to deliver care.
This was compounded by the difficulty of reporting the issues and, because of the disconnected nature of different departments and responsibilities, the time it took to solve them. I remember this one time where I had to cancel three operations because of one broken lightbulb in the theatre. There were also plenty of studies available that confirmed that the impact of this inefficiency was, and still is, massive. For example, one of the studies found that the NHS had a 32% increase in cancelled operations in the two years preceding it because of problems like faulty equipment.
The rest of the world was digitalising, and I thought this aspect of healthcare should be following in this path. That’s how MediShout was born, from the idea that I should be able to type into an app what the problem is, have the right person receive it, and get status updates on the issue.
2. What do you believe gives MediShout an edge over its competitors?
MediShout is the first and, as far as I am aware, the only digital healthcare platform where you can report any operational issue. One of our distinctive characteristics is that we are the only aggregator in the space – being a one-stop shop is one of our competitive differentiators.
One could argue that we focus on an ‘unsexy’ aspect of healthcare, so it doesn’t attract as much interest of entrepreneurs in this space. We are focused on its nuts and bolts – people literally take photos of bins on our app. But they are necessary for the everyday operation of a hospital and are therefore a great opportunity to cater to market needs.
Another unique aspect of MediShout is that all the core members of our team are healthcare professionals, meaning they really understand the problem we are trying to solve and have a unique insight into how it affects the day-to-day work. Their expertise also means that they fully appreciate its depth and systematic nature. One of our team members worked as an NHS manager who often spent hours sorting through these problems manually and ended up joining MediShout to help others overcome the issue.
3. Tell us about your investment journey, specifically the key milestones? What kind of challenges did you face? What were the learnings?
There are two main milestones in our company’s history. The first is the pre-seed round, where we secured a six-figure investment thanks to Claudio D’Angelo, his expertise and the network he brought with him and introduced us to. This essentially laid the foundation upon which MediShout was built and cleared the path to achieving our second milestone: the seed round. We were able to raise a million pounds by bringing on board a large investor, all while maintaining our core focus on the technology to solve problems, not on returns.
So far, we have done four investment rounds of various sizes and every time I’ve learned something new. One key learning is that raising money is a skill, and as a first-time founder you must take the time to learn and develop it. Pitching to an investor is completely different than pitching to consumers. Once you speak the right language and find the right investor, you need to commit yourself to a direction and make sure your business model is aligned with the investors’ goals and expectations.
4. How has the digital healthcare landscape changed since MediShout’s entry into the market? How have you adapted to these changes?
Though the company was older, we started trading February 2020. This obviously means that COVID-19 completely shaped where MediShout is today, both in positive and negative ways. On the plus side, the pandemic increased people’s awareness that digital innovation is the key to unlocking efficiency. We don’t have to sell that idea anymore or convince them of the benefits.
On the other hand, MediShout has always adopted a very hands-on approach, such as helping people use the product by walking them through its uses in person. Lockdowns meant we had to deploy our solutions remotely and to very busy staff, which was very difficult without in-person interactions. This drove a need to adapt and to pivot our technology to tackle these challenges. But in all, our mission has always focused on maximising operational efficiency and making sure our solutions end up increasing the number of operations that can be carried out in a certain timeframe.
5. What is the biggest benefit of working with investors like Spex Capital?
By far, one of the biggest benefits was the support Spex provided. Never underestimate how powerful it is to have someone you can talk to and bounce ideas with. I distinctly remember all the breakfasts Claudio and I had and how much they helped me. Claudio has also helped broker introductions to many potential customers through his extensive network. That was vital for us, as the only lifeline for start-ups is being able to sell products and bring revenue to the company. Anyone who can do that is worth their weight in gold.
6. Working with public institutions such as the NHS is, presumably, a different experience to working with private companies. What key distinctions have you identified between the two spheres?
Whether private or public, any large corporation will share the same challenges. Layers of bureaucracy that naturally give rise to inefficiencies can be found in every sizeable company. To that end, both require the same solutions and the same amount of time to implement them.
7. What does the future hold for Smart data-analytics and AI in healthcare? How will MediShout capitalise on these predictions?
MediShout is built around the non-clinical aspect of healthcare and operational data is our foundation. AI is increasingly able to foresee when something will break down or need maintenance. Healthcare can be very predictable. For example, we know we will get more hip fractures around December. These trends. and their supporting data, will allow us to further strengthen the offering of MediShout by being able to predict when and how many resources are needed more accurately. AI will play an ever more important role in making systems optimally efficient.
8. What are you tips for health-tech start-ups looking to secure funding?
There is a learning curve in every investment journey which involves what feels like a never-ending cycle of pitching and learning. It can’t be avoided. It helps if you can get a large number of people to check your deck. As cliché as it might sound, practice makes perfect, so you can benefit from just going for it.
Remember that every VC is different. They will want your deck laid out in different ways, or for you to ask for a larger or smaller investment. For that reason, don’t be disheartened by a rejection and take all the feedback and advice you can get. It’s important to recognise that when a VC isn’t interested, it does not necessarily mean your innovation isn’t great – just that it’s not the right fit for them. In the end, it’s all about finding two compatible puzzle pieces.
MediShout provides mobile and web-based healthcare reporting software to quickly, and accurately, report logistical issues to increase the quality and reduce the cost of healthcare delivery.
Operational and workflow issues delay staff and prevent best patient care. Examples include broken IT, estates and facilities problems, faulty equipment or PPE and stock shortages. With different reporting pathways for each problem, none of which are quick or efficient, healthcare staff are often left unsupported.
MediShout’s technology solves the big healthcare problem by connecting hospital staff, operational departments and suppliers. Our powerful App provides a one-stop shop for resolving all problems and supporting staff. Smart data-analytics and AI enables providers and suppliers to fix the issues most impacting care.
Ash Kalraiya, Founder & CEO
Ash trained as an Orthopaedic Surgeon at Imperial College London. He worked in the NHS for a decade, and his passion for trauma and “fixing broken bones” also took him to work in South Africa and Malawi, where he operated as a World Orthopaedic Concern Fellow.
Ash founded MediShout after witnessing infrastructure and operational problems in hospitals preventing best patient care, for example, when he had to cancel surgical procedures due to a broken theatre lightbulb or had an anaesthetised patient waiting while he was fixing a faulty printer.
MediShout solves this problem by providing the world’s first app for hospital staff to resolve any operational issue whilst using artificial intelligence to future problems in advance. Ash is an NHS Innovation Accelerator Fellow, NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Fellow and on the Microsoft for Start-ups Accelerator.