When engineering whiz Padmaja Sakthi became a mum of two–just like any other concerned parent–she began frequenting hospitals for their medical checkups and vaccinations. However, with each trip, the exorbitant cost of medications and treatments hit her pocket hard. But she was not the only parent going through this.
“In the waiting hall, I would come across many parents with children suffering from eczema. There, parents were always talking about price comparisons, and arguing amongst one another on whether to buy specific products. Plus, the flare-ups of eczema in children placed a lot of mental stress on parents. The cost for the medication and treatment (for Eczema) is high and it is a monthly commitment,” she says.
“It’s also very exhausting, as it requires constant looking-after. When the kids’ flare-up is not managed adequately, they could get skin infection with bacteria that usually adds up to the medication cost. I felt that we need to bring awareness to the cost-effective ways to manage the condition rather than to suffer from the exorbitant treatment cost,” says Sakthi.
After experiencing these issues personally, Sakthi decided to start a venture that would educate mothers about cost-effective ways to manage their children’s medical conditions.
“This was the foundation for the GainHealth that empowers mothers with the knowledge and importance of chronic care management for various healthcare problems. These could include conditions like Asthma, Eczema, Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), weight problems and Thyroid disorders. Once they understand the cause and the management plan, the cost for treatment can be adequately managed,” says Padmaja Sakthi, the founder of GainHealth.
Sakthi’s homegrown direct-to-consumer healthcare startup supports women as the primary decision-makers for health management within their families.
“We partner with reputable brands in the healthcare industry to offer the best quality products to a burgeoning USD 10 million dollar market consisting of 30 million middle class working mothers in Southeast Asia,” adds the mother of two.
We sat with Padmaja Sakthi, the founder of GainHealth, for an exclusive interview to understand how her venture benefits Singaporean mothers and her life as a mumpreneur. Here’s an excerpt from our interview.
Motivation Behind A Venture For Mothers, By A Mother
TAP: How does GainHealth benefit the average Singaporean mother?
Sakthi: Women are the key decision-makers in a family’s healthcare problems, which is the foundation for GainHealth. Once they understand the cause and the management plan, the cost for treatment can be adequately managed.
For instance, for parents with children who have eczema, when the child suffers from a flare-up episode, they get worried about steroid treatment. As we know, this treatment could prevent it from worsening. Now, this could be because of stories they hear from the Internet and/or chat groups regarding long-term steroid use. This is why we wanted to have a professional team of doctors on board.
When GainHealth members have doubts, they can get on a call through tele-consultation. They can speak to doctors and get necessary consultation and understand the best course of action before it is too late for treatment, which could then lead to high medical bills.
TAP: Was it challenging to make parents aware of this facility?
Sakthi: I had the business plan and wasn’t sure about how to get it implemented.
But the biggest challenge was to raise awareness among mothers and to create a change in mindset towards some entrenched beliefs in managing chronic diseases. Another challenge was getting them used to online purchase of medication and tele-consultation services.
TAP: What do you wish to change in S’porean parents’ lives with this venture?
Image courtesy: iStock
Sakthi: We hope that mothers are able to take the first steps to increase their knowledge about chronic conditions such as eczema to start with.
We also want them to be empowered with the right information in managing their family’s healthcare concerns. To solve their doubts, resolve their guilt, and be their companion for their wellness and health.
We want to make access to healthcare professionals easy as well, and help mothers save their precious time while balancing work and family. My vision for GainHealth is to be a direct-to-consumer, value-based online pharmacy and a medical advocate which provides a holistic healthcare management solution for families.
TAP: What has been the most significant barrier you’ve faced as an mumpreneur?
Sakthi: Marketing. Due to the current global pandemic, we were unable to reach out to larger community events and meet people to make them understand our products and services.
There is a lot of support for digital transformation from the government and it is making it easier for people to leverage on technology. Especially now that e-commerce has become commonplace. For healthcare though, we need much more brand awareness to build trust online.
TAP: What more do you think should be done to educate women about healthcare and wellness?
Sakthi: In an average survey conducted, women make 90% of purchase decisions for home-related products. She is the main decision-maker especially when it comes to childcare because of our natural bonding and instinct. We wanted to make them feel guilt-free when making healthcare choices by giving them knowledge of their healthcare needs both for their individual needs and their family needs.
In most households women decide what to cook, she is interested in fresh produce and nutritious ingredients, not just because of the taste, but also because of its health benefits.
What if they have busy life schedules and do not have time to prepare food — it is natural for her to feel guilty because of what society has expected her to do. We need to look at alleviating these pressures for women not only at work but also at home as well.
This is a statistic from Harvard business research: “Women make the decision in the purchases of 94% of home furnishings…92% of vacations…91% of homes… 60% of automobiles…51% of consumer electronics.”
Why don’t more women get to decide on family health? Asia is seeing the highest female workforce and is expected to increase many folds by 2030. Women are now contributing to their family income. Are we preparing our women community for the future of self-care, emotional and mental care and family healthcare needs?
Padmaja Sakthi: A Visionary, An Entrepreneur, But First, A Mother
Image courtesy: Padmaja Sakthi
TAP: How do you balance your many roles as mother, spouse, and an entrepreneur?
Sakthi: Luckily my kids are a little older and they understand that I have just started my own business. So they get on with their school work independently.
My family and my husband have been my pillar of strength. They believe in my ideas and support me by all means. Working from home was real stressful initially, but our family has slowly adapted to the new lifestyle. With this setup, I have noticed that my kids observe how adults work and they are maturing faster.
TAP: What is your secret to success?
Sakthi: Self-doubt! Yes, this may sound weird to some, but I like it as it keeps me on my toes. It allows me to always challenge myself. It could be a trait of a Gemini.
TAP: What’s your advice for mums on balancing life and work successfully?
Sakthi: Like what the Airline safety guidelines say: secure your seatbelt first and mask yourself first before helping the others around you. I believe that the mental and physical well-being of mothers and caregivers should be prioritised before we are able to deliver the best care for our loved ones.
All women should listen to their own body first, and prioritise caring for themselves.
Join a community and interest groups. It’s okay to share your struggles because someone out there has gone through your challenge and is able to offer you help. Keep yourself surrounded by positive people and good energy. It makes a world of difference in the way you will see things.
Most importantly, listen to your children because they have great ideas about the future. Encourage them to stay positive and live in the moment.
TAP: What do you hope to change for mothers and women in general?
Image courtesy: iStock
Sakthi: I am very happy to see that women are coming forward to help other women in technology, work, mental awareness, mother support groups and business. I cherish this change and remember that behind every woman’s success, there is a tribe of women.
Women should voice out and seek help. Stop feeling guilty when it comes to child and family care — no one is perfect. Remember that we are doing our best to be good parents and a good mother. Try something out of your comfort zone.
TAP: Finally, what kind of future do you envision for your kids?
TAP: I envision a world that is against hate, discrimination and bullies. As parents, we have no control over our children’s neighbourhood and friends, but we have full control over the home and family environment.
Make home a safe place to emphasise good values and discrimination. As adults, we need to have filters in our mind and know what to say and what not to say. Don’t discriminate between children and make social comments carefully. Social behaviour starts at home. We need to put more work there.
If this happens, we can reduce bullying behaviour at school and have a safe environment for our children to grow a positive mindset. Learn to appreciate the moment we live in.
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