One business, one family: Working in a family startup

Ronja Schrimpf

Startup Stories

In Greek mythology, Maia is the mother of god Hermes and seen as an honoured and nursing mother, who strongly protected both her own and her adopted children. Her character was what Suman and Manish Menda had in mind when they founded Mya Care with their father Ramesh. The goal of Mya Care is to support patients during their healthcare journey and empower them to find the necessary information and resources for their treatment. Expanding their platform to Germany and geographically widen their support system for patients, Mya Care tries to find new partners and connections in Germany as well.

Mya Care founders Manish, Ramesh and Suman Menda (from left to right)

“Plan your trip” – Support during the whole healthcare journey

“We have just entered the German market and it is an important market for us. The quality of health care in Germany is of a very high standard”, explains Manish Menda, who founded Mya Care in August 2018 alongside his sister Suman and his father Ramesh, “We are interested in developing partnerships with hospitals, doctors and wellness companies. But we also want to work with different service providers, not just in the medical space. We look for providers from care at home service to hotels, transportation and online prescription companies, so when patients come to us, they are covered in all aspects.”

“We try to create an ecosystem where patients can look for hospitals and doctors and contact them directly through our platform. On top of that, we also provide information about certain procedures on our blog, so patients can educate themselves on different aspects of healthcare”, his sister Suman adds.

Looking at Mya Care’s website, patients can easily learn details about doctors or healthcare providers and contact them directly. Alternatively patients can route the inquiries through Mya Care. Besides information about doctors and hospitals, additional medical services can be found on the website. However, “Plan your trip” not only involves information in the medical sphere.

“We try to look at the whole journey a patient might take”, Suman explains their concept, “for example, if a patient looks for healthcare in Germany, the first thing they do is look for the hospitals and the doctors there. But they need to know a few more things along the way. They might need to know which hotel is nearby the hospital or they might need home care after the procedure. We try to provide all the things along the line for the patient, so they get everything they might need.”

Manish Menda sums up: “Mya Care is a global end-to-end solution for your health and wellness needs. Our goal is to empower patients and give them the tools they need to find health and wellness services for their specific needs around the world. We are also trying to connect the whole ecosystem for the patients, to enable them to look for various other services that are required when traveling for health care, such as home health services, car services, prescription drugs or even money exchange.”

Mya Care is free for patients

Mya Care is free for patients, which is an important aspect of the whole healthcare idea in the opinion of the Menda family. As Suman explains, this was an intentional choice: “If a platform gets a commission from a hospital, it’s natural for the platform to push the patient to this certain hospital rather than another hospital. We decided to keep it free to make it fair for the patients and give them better choices. It’s a natural process this way.”

Instead of a commission financing model, the Menda family wants to rely on sponsored links or advertising and promoting medical packages on their website. In the opinion of the Menda family, it is essential for Mya Care to inform about the healthcare providers in a neutral way.

“We encourage patients to contact multiple hospitals, get multiple opinions, do their research and decide where to go after. That’s what makes us different to a lot of other platforms”, Suman points out.

The idea of Mya Care came during their own journeys from both personal and career

Due to their own personal and professional background, the Menda family has a lot of experience with questions concerning the medical system. Manish and his father Ramesh made their own personal experiences in travelling for medical purposes. Interestingly, both went to Germany for medical treatment.

“We know about the challenges about finding hospitals and doctors”, Manish elaborates, “A few years ago, my father Ramesh had a heart condition. We were looking for very specific equipment that couldn’t be found in our region. Through connections and asking around, we found that certain equipment available at a hospital in Germany.”  He continues: “On the Mya Care platform patients can also search for specialized equipment that might be available at various healthcare providers.”

Besides their personal relation to healthcare journeys, the Menda family also has a professional medical background with both Suman and Manish working in the healthcare industry before founding Mya Care. Manish Menda has already founded a business before which helped patients finance their medical treatment in India. “Because of our healthcare background, people often asked us where to go for certain procedures, especially if it required specific equipment”, Manish remembers. In the end, he sold his business and founded Mya Care with his sister and father, based on their own experiences how difficult the healthcare journey might be for patients.

One business, one family: Advantages and disadvantages of working with close relatives

“I always wanted them to work together, but they were against it”, tells Ramesh Menda, the father of Suman and Manish, “I always knew they both would complement each other. I think that’s why we are growing so fast today.”

It seems to prove Ramesh Menda right when his children Suman and Manish only come up with one single disadvantage in working together with family, namely: Even at home with family, you can never switch off from business. On the other hand, both agree on certain great advantages, as Manish explains: “We are really close to each other. In any business, you’re going to argue and have disagreements with your partner. But the key thing is to have good arguments. It shouldn’t be a negative thing. You should listen to each other. I think that’s easier with family members. And we all have different skills and different backgrounds. In the end, we work well together and complete each other.”

Their advice for new founders of startups

While founding and building up their business, the Menda family also made mistakes. However, making mistakes helped them learning more not only about Mya Care itself, but also about everything concerning Mya Care, for example like developing an online portal for Mya Care.

“Even if you hire an expert for a certain matter, you cannot depend on them completely. You have to learn about that subject and give them as much direction as you can”, Suman recommends. When they started, they first chose the wrong web developing company to build a portal and had to redevelop a new portal. “We should have done our homework before we selected a web developing company”, Suman explains jokingly, before she continues, “That experience wasn’t great, but we learned a lot from it. We have taken classes and we have educated ourselves.”

How to deal with mistakes and changes might be one of the main challenges for startup founders, but also a chance to improve and grow, as Manish describes: “When you start your business, you have certain ideas in mind where you want to go and how you want to do things, but you don’t ever end up exactly where you planned. That is normal for a startup and one of the interesting things in starting my own company. We have had good experiences, we have grown, developed and evolved this business. Because of that, I think this is a much better place for the consumers.”

Most important in starting your own business is the team, as Manish explains. Building a strong foundation with the team, investing in them, training and teaching them is the main key for a functioning startup. Second, founders have to be open for change so the business can grow.

Today, Mya Care is working with hospitals and clinics in about thirteen countries and with more than 75 healthcare providers. The fast-growing network proves their plans for the future are right. “We want to be the leading platform for people who are looking for healthcare services while they are travelling. We want to be a resource for people all around the world”, Suman declares.

“In terms of working with 5-HT, we could work together on a lot of things”, Manish adds, “I already saw some innovative startups in the ecosystem of 5-HT. Working together, a lot of knowledge sharing could happen. We are able to work complementary to each other.” Manish is traveling to Germany in July 2019 and is looking forward to meeting with various hospitals, clinics and other service providers.

Even with their fast growth, Mya Care cannot offer everything for a patient’s journey yet. “We are not at our goals yet. For example, we haven’t listed all the hotels on our website yet, but we are working on it. The goal is to present all options to the patients, so they can choose what’s best for them.” Altogether, Mya Care supports and nurses patients as its namesake Greek god Maia did for her children.

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