In the last edition of Africa’s largest Healthcare Business Event, ie Medic West Africa 2017, the main take away from the Leadership in Healthcare Conference was that the health sector would soon begin to witness ‘Disruptive Models’ that would change how healthcare services are being delivered.
Models that would blend the far reaching character of the Internet, with well established protocols of medical tenets. These are what 25Doctors.com stand for.
I had a rare opportunity to do this interview with the Founder/CEO of 25Doctors.com, Dr Charles-Davies Omiete, and it was most revealing. Dr Charles leads a team of Online Doctors on the platform that answers to the needs of callers who need to ask a doctor any medical question.
Below is a minimally edited version of my Chat with the young Dr Charles-Davies (represented in this interview as Dr CDO) and myself (Represented as Dr Emy)… Enjoy!!!
¤Dr Emy: Hello Dr Charles – Davies, I am so glad to finally do this interview session with you. Can we meet you? Know a little more about you?
Dr CDO: I am Dr. Omiete Charles-Davies, I am the founder of 25 Doctors. I studied medicine and surgery at the college of medicine, University of Lagos and graduated in 2012. I have spent the last 5 years developing my clinical skills and learning a lot about the internet. In October 2015, I launched 25 Doctors as a platform to express both my medical knowledge and my understanding of the internet.
¤Dr Emy: Your company name 25Doctors is so unique and compelling, give us the reason for the choice in the name… Why the choice of the number
Dr CDO: The story behind the ‘25 Doctors’ name is quite straightforward. I wanted a name that would stick and for people to be able to tell that the brand is health-related, so I chose to use numbers, I heard people remember brands better when there are numbers in their names. My birthday is 2nd May, so I choose the numbers ‘2’ and ‘5’.
¤Dr Emy: I will be asking a 4-in-1 question…Give us a brief background into your education path… What is 25Doctors all about? Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur? and WHY?
Dr CDO: Like I earlier said, I studied medicine and surgery at the University of Lagos.
Well, yes, I have been drawn to entrepreneurship for a while, I have always been a curious person. I made up my mind while in medical school to set up brands that will make a serious impact in Nigeria and around the world. So, I feel very privileged that I was able to start and lead 25 Doctors. The life of an entrepreneur can be challenging because you go against many people’s opinions, especially the opinions of your close friends and family.
¤Dr Emy: Through more light on specific key services your company offer?
Dr CDO: Our activities can be divided into two broad areas. The first part involves sharing health information over the internet. We have a lot of social media followers, so we regularly share interesting and visual health information. We try to avoid medical language, preferring easy and relatable words.
The second part was launched a few months ago. It is our ‘ask a doctor’ service. For a little fee, you can have a real-time chat with a doctor in just a few clicks. We started this service after we noticed our social media inboxes were full of medical questions.
¤Dr Emy: Why did you decide to start your company/How (when) did you get the idea for your brand
Dr CDO: I started it when I noticed that many of my patients didn’t know some very basic things about their bodies and health. For example, people should be able to tell when a cough requires medical attention or what to do when someone convulses. I felt that global health would be better if members of the public were better educated about their health. So, I first started posting regular health facts on Instagram, then with time we designed a website, launched an app, a facebook page, and a twitter page.
¤Dr Emy: I think your start-up health company is a promising one, but do people care, value, appreciate its importance…. Are they willing to pay for it?
Dr CDO: Well, we haven’t completely monetised things. We occasionally have brands run ads on our social media pages. Also, we have seen a marked increase in the number of people paying to chat with a doctor online. The statistics are encouraging and we hope the trend continues. We are also testing new strategies to help us stay profitable without compromising our commitment to accurate health information.
¤Dr Emy: As an online company, what particular demographics patronize your services.
Dr CDO: Interestingly, our followers and users are mainly young people in their early twenties. Perhaps this is because we started out on Instagram- where young people spend a lot of time, or perhaps we tried to share visual content. Our ‘ask a doctor’ service has a wider demography, we often have middle-aged and elderly people ask us medical questions….
¤Dr Emy: By percentage, are Nigerian any where near 50% of your clientele base.
Dr CDO: We didn’t try to target any specific country. I didn’t let the fact that I am Nigerian stop us from growing a global reach. I never try to limit growth. The honest truth is that our followers are from almost all countries, with India and United States being dominant. Nigerians make up 1-10% of our audience, depending on what platform we are considering. For the ‘ask a doctor’ service, we barely have any Nigerians using that yet, but this should change very soon.
¤Dr Emy: Passion? This remains a key factor guiding major tech companies. What branch in the economic sector do you consider yourself… Are you a health tech company, HMO, Telemedicine company?
Dr CDO: This is a very good question. I would say we are still primarily in the public education sector. In the coming weeks, we would be releasing a newer and free version of the ‘online doctor’ service. We hope to have many doctors and patients sign up for it. This will make us in the education, health and tech sectors at the same time. We will be re-designing the website and releasing a new app.
¤Dr Emy: Practically speaking, do you think the tech health sector in Nigeria is matured enough for the kind of advancements going on?
Dr CDO: Yes. Nigeria has many internet users and we adopt things very fast. A good example is uber. Who would have expected it to grow the way it did when it came to Nigeria? I believe Nigeria has millions of vibrant young people who care a lot about tech and appreciate its benefits. So, yes, the market is good enough to support as many tech or health startups.
¤Dr Emy: What particular challenges stare at you as you offer your services, Personally and Business wise
Dr CDO: Challenges? Well, I will say the challenges we face as a Nigerian startup is the reputation the country has in the ‘internet world’. Some businesses refuse to extend their services to Nigeria. A good example is PayPal, Nigerians can only pay for services using the platform but can’t receive.
I have had issues signing up and doing business with some excellent brands just because my address is in Nigeria. Despite this, right now, I am not interested in moving it to another country.
¤Dr Emy: As a company with core values, what is your advise to young people who are expected to finish med school, even though they would rather explore other areas
Dr CDO: I would advise that they stay and finish the course while still pursuing their passion. I actually underestimated the power of a university degree while still in school. But with time, I realised it opened a lot of doors for me and made me view life a bit differently.
¤Dr Emy: What common mistakes do entrepreneurial medics (especially tech medics) commit that stop them from being as successful as other techies in other ecosystems
Dr CDO: I think one mistake many entrepreneurs make is that they use the wrong measurements when defining success. I also made this mistake. To me, success isn’t when you raise $1 million dollars from investors, it isn’t when you have 1 million likes on Facebook or when you have 50,000-page visits. You should define success using parameters that matter. Things like the number of paying users, conversion rate, user retention, and profitability. I have seen brands celebrate the wrong things, only to disappear from the market very quickly.
Many are also guilty of spending money on things that really don’t matter.
¤Dr Emy: You are a trained medical doctor. Do you still do clinical work? Give us an insight into this..
Dr CDO: I still renew my medical license every year and still make out time for clinical work, although I don’t take up very busy jobs, so I can have time to run 25 Doctors. I do these jobs to take care of my personal needs, so I don’t put 25 Doctors under any financial pressure.
¤Dr Emy: Your start-up, 25Doctors.com seem quite active on Instagram… I see you have a followership of over 207,000… what other social media handles is 25Doctors on? Are they equally vibrant as the IG handle?
Dr CDO: We are on facebook and twitter too. We will set up a youtube account in the coming months, we think video content is here to stay.
¤Dr Emy: I can imagine how busy your schedule is, Dr Charles, how are you able to manage so much including your social media presence, clinical work etc
Dr CDO: I have a team that works to make all this happen smoothly. They are from different countries and timezones, so it gives us an advantage. They have been awesome and helpful.I also try not to be in a hurry these days, so I have a lot of time to plan. Many people rush into working on an idea without sitting down to count the cost and what is required. Planning helps you develop a strategy quickly, and that saves you time.
For example, we used to churn out a lot of articles and social media posts every day. It used to take a lot of my time. In the last few months, we have rather focused on quality than quantity. We will rather publish one post per day on Instagram and one high-quality article our website. We made this change when I noticed that most of our organic traffic came from less than 5% of articles we published. So, I learned search engine optimization and make sure all our articles are good enough to attract organic traffic from search engines.
So, this strategy has given us more time. Now, I have enough time to combine my job with 25 Doctors.
¤Dr Emy: Well said! But In what ways have being an entrepreneur changed you
Dr CDO: Well, it made me have a mental freedom. There’s this feeling of possibility and being in charge of your own brand makes you have something to get excited about every day. Gone are the days when I woke up feeling unenthusiastic. Nowadays, I wake up with a goal and purpose. I also learnt to spend money very wisely (smiles).
¤Dr Emy: Where do you see your brand in the next five years
Dr CDO: In the next five years? I see us being a globally-recognised health brand by God’s grace. We are making a lot of progress and aren’t incurring a lot of costs, I feel we are on course to achieving this goal.
¤Dr Emy: Now be candid… If not medicine, what will you be doing?
Dr CDO: Haha. I love tech. I used to be very good in physics and everything that involved calculations. I might have been an engineer, maybe an aeronautical engineer, who knows. But I really am happy with what I do and I feel so privileged to be on this pathway.
¤Dr Emy: It was totally nice having this session with you. We wish 25Doctors.com well in the growing health tech ecosystem.
Dr CDO: Thanks for having me, and DoctorsQuarters.com is doing exceptionally well too.