Why We Invested in Virohan

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Left to right: Kunaal Dudeja, Nalin Saluja, and Archit Jayaswal

At Blume, we often build a strong thesis about a space and then actively look for startups that fit the gaps we’ve identified. But in the case of Virohan, our latest bet in ed-tech, we weren’t tracking healthcare employability, the domain they operate in, as a sub-vertical to focus on. Instead, we had a strong take on the broader space of employability-led education of which healthcare employability education is a subfield. In our 2022 EdTech report that my colleagues Radhika Agarwal and Amal Vats cowrote, we identified Verticalised Upskilling (a moniker for education that enables employability) as an area that’s primed for growth.

The specific segment that Virohan serves is a subset of medical care referred to as paramedics or specifically Allied Healthcare Professionals (or AHPs). Doctors constitute roughly 15% of medical staff, nursing staff about 25% of all medical professionals, and the balance 60% consists of AHPs. These include staff such as phlebotomists, medical lab technicians, operation theatre technicians, radiology room attendants, and physiotherapists, providing a range of services in diverse clinical and non-clinical environments.

They fall into four buckets – Diagnostic (Pathology lab assistant, X-ray machine operator etc.), Curative (OT assistant, giving chemo etc.), Rehabilitative (Physio etc.) and finally Administrative (OT Billing, Facilities management etc.)

A key statistic that influenced us positively towards Virohan, is the huge supply-demand gap that exists. A BCG Report states that the demand for AHPs is 6x the supply.

Added to this is the shortage of training facilities/colleges for the supply to be built.

Per the chart below, we have 140 seats per million, which works out to an annual new supply of 150-200k AHPs. This is too few for the current demand. These are the demand tailwinds underpinning the case for Virohan.

But these are just one side of a good ed-tech play.

In any ed-tech startup, we track three vectors: acquisition, delivery of content, and placement. If a startup cracks at least two out of these three vectors, you have something special. The founders (and more on them in a bit) have nailed delivery and placement.

Their USP rests on an immersive teaching pedagogy with 15-minute videos, real-time quizzes, and active learning experiences. Virohan boasts of a drop-out rate that’s just 4%, as opposed to the 35-40% industry average. Virohan conducts its classes offline (as students attending these courses don’t have the kind of facilities at home that is needed for immersive learning), with tech serving as a supporting ally and driving down costs for both the content and the delivery.

Combine this market-leading training with an integrated internship programme and you’ve created a remedy for a long-standing ailment – that of skilling talent for a healthcare program. And Virohan’s numbers reflect that. With an impressive placement rate of 98% – they’ve already partnered with 1000+ employers like Fortis Escorts, 1MG, Dr Lal PathLabs, Sarvodaya Healthcare, and Healthians.

To top it off, you have a group of extraordinary founders leading the charge.

The co-founding team has Kunaal Dudeja, Nalin Saluja, and Archit Jayaswal. Kunal and Nalin are both from Delhi and they knew each other before starting up. Nalin and Archit’s brother went to the same college together. They have known each other for a while and there is a high degree of trust, comfort, and chemistry between them.

Kunaal, the CEO, is a fantastic storyteller and brings over 15 years of experience in defining strategy, identifying business models, and implementing operating frameworks for scale. The conviction with which he delivered the Virohan story truly made an impression on us. His background in retail is a critical aid for fulfilling the company’s vision given that the delivery is via offline centres. Archit, the CFO, spearheads all commercial and finance operations, while, Nalin, the CTO, is a rare combination of a CTO who understands sales. Virohan is the first example I have seen of a CTO who has the student sales teams reporting into him.

At Blume, we see Indian education as a key engine driving India's development. Equally, education helps leapfrog social classes & economic cohorts. And that is why we have consistently bet on education startups lowering barriers to access and expanding opportunities to all. This is why we are excited to partner with Virohan for its ambition and mission to skill and upgrade the next hundred million Indians.

We’re honoured to be leading their latest round (our biggest single edtech cheque thus far) and we’re excited to be onboard the Virohan rocket ship!