The Weekend Leader - Healthians Founder Deepak Sahni: From College Dropout to Health Lab Mogul with Rs 240 Crore Turnover

How a College Dropout Fought Back, Completed His Degree, and Built a Rs 240 Crore Turnover Health Lab Chain

Shyla F   |  


Vol 15 | Issue 20

Deepak Sahni's journey from a college dropout to the founder of Healthians, a lab chain with a current turnover of Rs 240 crore, is a remarkable story of determination and innovation.

Growing up in Delhi, Deepak dropped out of college, and continued his BCA degree through correspondence. At age 19, he started a computer hardware and repair shop with Rs 2 lakh borrowed from a family member.

Deepak Sahni started Healthians lab chain in 2015 focusing on preventive care tests (Photos: Special Arrangement) 

He went on to build the Healthians lab chain, which currently has a workforce of 3200 people, including 48 doctors and 120 consultants who conduct 100% online consultations.

Healthians has 26 government-accredited labs across the country. Their largest lab spread over 10,000 sq. ft. is located in Gurgaon.

Healthians primarily focuses on preventive care tests as they wish to promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent major diseases and hospitalisations. This home diagnostic service allows patients to get tests done without a doctor's prescription.

Preventive health tests use blood, urine, or stool samples, which are sufficient for a wide range of tests, including blood sugar levels, kidney function, liver function, and cholesterol levels.

Deepak grew up in a family where his father ran a hospitality and textile export business, while his mother was a housewife. From childhood, he was curious about electronics, often making and breaking things.

He completed his Class 12 from St. Margaret School, Delhi, in 2000. During Class 11, his father's business suffered financial losses, and the family never recovered from it.

Deepak started his first business, a computer hardware and repair shop, at age 19

Deepak enrolled in a BCA course at Sikkim Manipal University, Delhi. However, due to financial struggles at home, he dropped out of the regular course, lost a year, but completed the degree through correspondence while simultaneously finishing a computer hardware course.

At age 19, Deepak started his first business—a computer hardware and repair shop - with a loan of Rs 2 lakh from a family member.

As Deepak recalls, "I used to reach the bus stand early in the morning and hand out leaflets of my services to newspaper hawkers, who would insert them into the newspapers. Computers were new then, and repair was an important service. People called us after seeing the advertisements."

Within two years, Deepak sold around 120 computers, earning around Rs 10-12 lakh. However, by 2003, big players like IBM entered the market, leaving little space for small businesses like his.

In 2004 Deepak took a loan of Rs. 3 lakh from Deutsche Bank, with an EMI of Rs. 6719. Along with some personal investment, he used this loan to start a new company, SWT Services.

Their primary services were making applications and software development, creating websites and software for small companies, such as invoice applications and appointment systems.

Deepak advertised his business through Just Dial and Times of India classified ads to connect with leads.

"We were a very small company without recognition," Deepak recalls. "When we approached companies to develop or design their websites, they didn't give us work directly. Instead, they asked us to develop a demo. If they liked the first cut, then we got the project and payment for our services."

The company began with just two people, with Deepak as the third. Their first big project was for T-Series, creating an animated video for incense sticks, for which they were paid Rs. 1 lakh.

A meeting with two doctors from Apollo opened the doors for Deepak's entry into medical tourism around 2006.Dr. Rajiv Sharma, an orthopaedic surgeon, and Dr. Kriplani, a bariatric surgeon, had worked abroad for years before returning to India and joining Apollo.

Deepak pivoted his medical tourism business to preventive care testing, pained at the high costs involved in treating diseases

They wanted websites for their services but had no knowledge of web technology, and doctors in India were not allowed to advertise their services at that time.

Deepak offered to create websites for them, with the doctors providing the content and profiles while he promoted their services. He quickly made two websites: Knee Replacement India and Bariatric Surgery India. This marked his transition from tech to health.

The websites received about 10 inquiries per day. Both doctors knew that these surgeries were much cheaper in India than abroad, where they cost around Rs. 6.5 lakh compared to Rs. 1.25 lakh in India.

Soon, the websites attracted patients from Thailand, the US, and Dubai, who travelled to India for their surgeries. Since Deepak owned the domains and handled mediation and maintenance, the doctors paid him monthly for his services. The surgeries were performed at Apollo Hospital, Delhi.

Simultaneously, Deepak was also creating websites for prominent hospitals like Fortis, Max, and Batra.

However, by 2013, Deepak realised he was in a negative business. People were unhealthy, selling their lands and other assets to get their treatments done.

He asked himself, "Am I doing something good?" This self-realisation made him see that his work was not positive, as people were selling their property to get treated.

To start something new and positive, he sold both companies in 2014 for about Rs. 5 crore. Acting on his wife's advice, he started in late 2014. Three people from Deepak's last tech agency, two marketing guys, and one product manager joined him in his new venture.

It was a diagnostic and health check-up firm that he ran for six months, offering a 10% discount on the average market price of pathology tests by having tie-ups with other diagnostic labs.

A Healthians mobile testing unit

Realising the potential in preventive diagnostics, he rebranded the company to Healthians with the registered name of Expedient Healthcare Marketing Pvt Ltd in 2015.

“My motto and vision behind founding Healthians was that if you don't want to go for longer treatments, keep your health check-ups on time, bring the required changes in the lifestyle, live healthy and longer,” Deepak explains.

Healthians distinguishes itself by focusing on preventive care. Customers can connect via the app, call centre, or website to schedule tests. The company offers two main services: one for customers with prescriptions and another for those seeking preventive tests based on their lifestyle.

Samples are collected from the comfort of the client’s home and processed in fully automated labs, with results delivered promptly.

Despite facing 12 funding rejections, Deepak's persistence paid off when cricketer Yuvraj Singh, a cancer survivor, invested Rs. 1 crore via his foundation 'You We Can' in 2015.

Yuvraj’s belief in Healthians’ preventive care model marked a turning point for the company.

“Yuvraj was so happy with my concept, that he said I am not only giving you my money, but I am also giving you my confidence and my entire soul,” says Deepak. “These lines became a huge inspiration for me and gave me the confidence that I was in the right direction.”

Since its inception, Healthians has expanded rapidly, starting from Delhi NCR and reaching over 100 cities across India within two years. The company's growth trajectory has been impressive, with turnovers of Rs. 18 crore in 2015-16, Rs. 36 crore in 2016-17, Rs. 54 crore in 2017-18, and reaching the Rs. 100 crore milsetone in 2018-2019.

Deepak with some of his core team members

Healthians now offers 1600 tests, with diagnostic packages catering to a wide range of health needs.

Deepak is married to Diya Sahni, a software engineer who now heads the administrative wing of Healthians.

They have two children and live in Gurgaon. Deepak continues to pursue his passion for technology, recently completing a 100-day AI course. He is a techie at heart, loves cooking, playing golf, and has a good social circle.

Reflecting on his journey, Deepak shares, “Business cannot be built in AC cabins. You have to go out on the ground. One should regularly spend some time with their customer, vendors, and staff. That is the only way where you can learn the loopholes of the business that gives you a good go-ahead.”

From a college dropout to the founder of a successful lab chain, Deepak Sahni's journey serves as an inspiring example for every aspiring and struggling entrepreneur.- ©TWL

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