Nigerian startup Kangpe is looking to shake up the healthcare sector using mobile, and has just raised a six figure funding round to make it happen.
Kangpe is a service that allows users to confidentially ask health questions – and receive answers from – verified medical doctors via a simple mobile app. The platform also provides added value features such as personalised daily health tips, and a menstrual cycle planner.
Launched three months ago by co-founders Ope Olumekun and Femi Kuti – who is also a medical doctor -, the startup has already raised angel funding from an anonymous Nigerian entrepreneur, to the sum of the mid hundred thousand dollars.
According to co-founder Kuti, technology has a pivotal role to play in improving access to healthcare across Africa, particularly for those living in rural areas.
“Technology has a huge part to play in the health sector. I think its biggest impact is going to be in improving access to quality healthcare regardless of location. One of the biggest challenges for African healthcare is addressing how rural-based people can have some form of quality care despite their far flung location,” Kuti says.
“I think it’ll be interesting to see how technology, especially ubiquitous and cheap tech like the mobile phone, will make an impact in this sphere.”
Kuti thinks Kangpe may be one such solution to improving healthcare through mobile devices, and uptake from doctors and users alike supports his optimism. 200 doctors have already signed up to provide responses to questions sent in on the platform; while over 2,000 users are registered, 90 per cent returning to use the platform repeatedly within a month.
For its own part, the startup has two revenue channels: paid chats, and targeted advertising. An initial question and follow on question is free, users then pay to continue their private conversation with a doctor further. As the startup accumulates demographic data, as well as data around users’ health concerns, the platform serves as a highly targeted advertising channel for health related goods and services.
As the return user figures attest to, Kuti says the public absolutely trusts mobile-based and online medical services. In fact, he says the internet is turning into a first stop for medical information, as well as a de facto second opinion for medical issues.
This is also why Kangpe puts doctors registering on the platform through a thorough verification process, to ensure their credentials are real and up to standard.
“Many times the internet is the first port of call when people need information about health issues, simply because it easy to access, convenient and cheap. It’s also turning into a fact check to weigh what your doctor has told you, and double check the information or prescription he’s given. This sometimes can be the problem, as users aren’t always savvy enough to be able to distill the information out there that is credible. That’s why apps and services like Kangpe, that take the time to make sure that health information provided is reliable, have a large and ready market of users,” he says.
The key challenge to the startup, Kuti says, is finding the tech talent to support the development and growth of the platform. According to the co-founder, Africa is lacking in high-quality technology professionals.
“Though we’ve been relatively lucky with the stellar tech team we’ve built, it’s taken a lot of trial and error to find the right people. The region needs a lot of work in building the talent needed to create the next wave of technology businesses, the honest truth is that it’s presently grossly lacking,” he says.
So what does the future hold for Kangpe? For now, the startup is working on becoming the first port of call for health advice in Nigeria. In the long term, it aims to becoming the number one healthcare platform in Africa.
“To achieve that we’re presently expanding our technology team, so anyone who is skilled and wants to be involved in building an exciting and innovative product should contact us at email@example.com,” Kuti says.
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