A Harvard law graduate , a proud patriot, and a startup entrepreneur, Shinta Nurfauzia is on a mission to narrow the health gap for the poor in Indonesia.
Through her online platform Konsula, which received early funding from East Ventures in late 2015, Shinta aims to connect the best health care providers to every corner and community of this vast archipelago. Having signed up more than 500 doctors and heath practitioners, Konsula acts as the perfect platform for users, especially those who are in more remote areas of the country, to find and talk to doctors without first having to make a trip to a big city and incur travel costs.
In this exclusive interview, Human Asia caught up with Shinta in a cafe near her office in Jakarta.
You had a promising career as a lawyer, why did you jump into entrepreneurship?
I have always been a big patriot and my parents taught me that the only measure of success is in how much you have given back to your country. I grew up understanding that Indonesia has a lot of social problems, and I believed that through law, one could begin to understand the social and human aspects of what make a country great. Law transpires in every aspect of people’s lives in any country, and that’s the reason I took up Law knowing that through it, I would be able to contribute to Indonesia. At some point however, I started realizing that the making an impact in society through business is greater than through law. And that’s why I started this business.
Why did you decide on the health care sector?
I met my co-founders while at studying in the US, and even back then we have always discussed about going back to Indonesia and creating something. None of us are from the health care sector, but we knew that we wanted to create something that helps society. We narrowed down the sector to health care because we knew there was an acute problem in this sector in Indonesia where many people are not getting basic services and it’s actually difficult to stay healthy in this country.
Who are your co-founders?
There are three of us: myself, Johannes Ardiant, and Ronald Wijaya. I met Johannes at Harvard. Ronald was at Michigan but we met while in the US. Finding good co-founders is probably the hardest thing, but we are practically family right now.
You don’t have a technical background. How difficult is it to start a tech startup without one?
In Indonesia, there are many non-tech people who’ve started tech startups. What’s important is that you have code literacy. It is imperative that you get yourself to the level where you’re able to understand coding from the point of view of what you’re trying to build. There are a lot of open sources and online courses available these days and you no longer have to go to a campus to learn something. In my case, educating myself was part of the deal when I started Konsula.
Do you consider Konsula as a tech or a health care company?
We are a tech company and an online platform. The doctors are our partners. Apart from doctors, we also partner with health & beauty service providers.
What challenges did you face early on?
The initial plan was to bootstrap, but we were lucky that we found an investor early on. Within two months, we had our minimum viable product ready.
Tell us more about how the Konsula platform works
We are basically a healthcare marketplace where you can find doctors, clinics, labs, and also health & beauty offerings. The idea is to aggregate all the information from the healthcare industry and publish it in a way that it helpful for people to use. We provide two services on the platform: online consultation and health&beauty offerings. Online consultation can be done in two ways – via chat or telephone.
Tell us about the social impact Konsula is making
The idea of Konsula is to create equal access for everybody in a way that as long as you have access to the internet, you will have also access to quality health care services with a fraction of the cost. You no longer have to make a visit to the doctor’s clinic in order to get advice, and this saves on transportation costs especially in rural areas. Also in a conventional doctor visitation, the average time given to the patient is only around 5 minutes. With Konsula’s slot payment model, patients are able to get more consultation time with the doctor either on the phone or via chat. Also, the user review system we have in place indirectly increases the quality of the services provided. Transparency improves many things and Konsula focuses on transparency.
Where is your user base mainly located?
Our users are all over Indonesia. The best case would be a user in a remote area, say in Irian Jaya, connecting to our platform and talking to a doctor in Jakarta. That would showcase our social mission.
How does online diagnosis work?
In the future, there will be online gadgets that will allow people to perform real time diagnosis like taking blood pressure and body temperature. In the meantime however, Konsula is providing online information on preventive care to help people in making decisions so that they will only visit the doctor when it is necessary.
How many doctors have signed up with your service as of now?
As of July 2016, we have around 2,000 doctors signed up.
Biggest competitor out there?
As a company, we don’t focus on our competitors. I know that we are all trying to achieve the same thing which is to contribute to Indonesia. Our focus is on our own users, and our daily activities revolve around making our users happy.
Typical day for Shinta?
I wake up and work out almost every morning at 6 a.m. I arrive at the office around 9:30 a.m. Then my day mainly consists of meetings which my team had input into my calendar. At night, I set aside 2 hours to read, mainly about startups. A successful day at Konsula would be a day when we have done everything to make our users happy.
If you could turn back time, what would you do differently?
I think things that happened in the past have made me what I am today, so I don’t dwell on regrets. I am thankful where I am today building something that could potentially help a lot of Indonesians. If I had to change something, it would be to worry less about the future, live in the moment, and tackle each problem as they come.
What were the main obstacles you faced at Konsula?
Firstly, I believe that working hard will get you to places. For example, I never thought that I could get into Harvard for free, and I did. Along with hard work, never give up when you encounter obstacles. We have never encountered obstacles at Konsula where we thought we could not handle. Also as a startup, you will always have to bootstrap. Just because you have obtained funding, it doesn’t mean you could spend it as you wish, and at Konsula we are always bootstrapping.
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Many people were entrepreneurs before they realized they were entrepreneurs. And being an entrepreneur is a lifetime decision. As an entrepreneur, you are always going to be thinking about your business 24 hours. You have to be ready to put aside your personal life. Your business will have to be your top priority as many people are relying on you – your employees as well as your customers.
Visit Konsula at https://www.konsula.com/