Innovator Spotlight: NegusMed

An Interview with Dr. Austin Omune, founder and CEO of NegusMed.

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Tell us about your innovation. What is the problem? What solution are you offering?

NegusMed was started in 2018 with a vision of advancing the standards of surgical and wound care in the region. This was due to the problem we saw of patients suffering from complications in surgery and developing complex wounds which result in long hospitalisations, complications, loss of limbs, loss of lives, and costly procedures. So we set out to solve this problem using different solutions. We saw there was a lack of adequate equipment to avoid these complications, so we created a platform that enables healthcare givers and healthcare institutions to access this advanced equipment which will reduce the number of complications that they will face and also to be able to treat patients who will suffer from issues such as chronic wounds and complex wounds.

What is a recent example of progress? What are you currently celebrating? 

We've achieved a number of milestones in terms of being listed as one of the key suppliers of advanced surgical and wound care products in some of the top hospitals in the region, including Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi Hospital, Defence Forces Hospital, and M.P. Shah Hospital. We have served over 250 hospitals and clinics from the mid-sized to large-sized hospitals. 

Another achievement was being selected by the I3 program late last year as one of the top 30 health tech companies with innovations in the supply chain sector. Also, being selected by the Stanbic Foundation as one of the most promising SMEs. 

What are the primary challenges you’re currently facing? 

Yes, one of the primary challenges has been around creating efficient company structures, from the finance department in terms of bookkeeping and reconciliation of the accounts receivables. 

Long payment terms as well. Creating a positive company culture that keeps everyone motivated to achieve our goals. Another challenge would be of course, the fluctuating Forex rates affects our operations, both in terms of importation of some of our advanced equipment and also raw material goods, which we use for product development as well.

What is something you have learned that stands out and that might help other innovators?

One of the main learning points we experienced at NegusMed was the need to conduct a proper market analysis in terms of the most effective way to market, especially in the healthcare sector, which is different to most traditional sectors. So early on, we found that we were roped into participating in the larger, glamorous medical conferences and and we thought this would be an effective way of reaching out to our clients who would all be concentrated in one area. But we found this perhaps wasn't the most effective, as we really weren't able to do a proper follow up with the people we spoke with. When we changed our marketing focus one on one, helping them understand the problem and how our solution addressed it, and basically forming that relationship with the doctors was a turning point for us in terms of being able to achieve sales targets. It’s worth it to do a market analysis, even though it comes with its own costs because it could save you quite a lot in the beginning phases just to be able to know where to utilise your resources in the most effective way.

How has Villgro impacted your growth? 

NegusMed being part of the Villgro incubation family was a huge step for us in terms of just learning how to run the company in an efficient manner. They helped us understand our strengths and how to focus on them, how to utilise our strengths to increase our impact. They have increased our connections, connecting us to different entrepreneurs in the healthcare startup space, which we've been able to do some synergistic projects with, which has helped both companies grow. And, of course, in terms of raising funds, which, for any startup, is at the end of it all, the most important. But you can only raise funds if you have a proper value proposition, if you're actually having an impact. So I'd say being supported by Villgro has been one of the most critical parts of our journey and we are seeing that the potential is still there for further growth and we are quite grateful to Villgro for that. 

Interested in reading more about NegusMed? Read our case study on an innovative wound closure technology they supply.