Responses attributed to Ravi Ganesh Venkataraman, Chief Executive Officer, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru

Cloudnine Group of Hospitals
Ravi Ganesh Venkataraman | Chief Executive Officer | Cloudnine Group of Hospitals

(As requested by the editorial team, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals would like to follow an Interview format for this interview)
Question 1: Kindly brief us about you and your journey since the beginning of your career.
Response:  Prior to joining the healthcare industry, I had the privilege of been associated with multiple industries and had the opportunity to traverse through the entire value chain of functions – right from manufacturing, supply chain, distribution, sales and marketing, strategy and M&A and have been running P&Ls for over the last decade. My first job was as a young engineer working in Godrej & Boyce on a project for ISRO for manufacturing components for the PSLV – so truly Rocket science!
Post my MBA I was associated with Titan Industries as a part of the team that set up the Jewellery manufacturing set up which now is famous as Tanishq. I joined Coca-Cola when they commenced bottling operations in India and held various roles with them – right from buying through sales and distribution to running bottling operations. Subsequently I had a stint with Airtel wherein I led their DTH business in the South India.  Prior to joining Cloudnine Group of Hospitals as the CEO, I was with Metro cash & Carry wherein I held multiple roles in India and Asia in the areas of Strategy, M&A and Commercial operations and Merchandising. I have always been attracted to new and unchartered zones and even in established organisations have chosen jobs that are more entrepreneurial and like start-ups.
Question 2: How do you describe yourself in one-word or one-sentence?
Response:  I see myself as a “permanent learner” at every stage
Question 3 What is your source of motivation?
Response: I get my highs by trying out new things and exploring unchartered territory. I believe that the human mind is capable of way much more than what we give it credit. Hence learning new skills is something that’s my biggest motivator.
 Question 4: Kindly tell us about the challenges you faced to withstand the complexities of the industry?
Response: Most of the roles that I have performed required me to learn skills which I had never expected to learn. The biggest challenge is to be able to learn from everyone and everything around you while at the same time leading your teams and the business successfully.
Question 5: Kindly describe in detail about your company and its unique services/products.
Response : Cloudnine Group of Hospitals began its journey in 2007, and now stands as one of India’s most advanced, technologically equipped maternal, childcare and fertility care group of hospitals in India. Technology is at the core of this organization that has revolutionised childbirth in India’s urban centres, and hopes to drive this change in rural India as well. The founding group of promoters with their experience and global awareness, coupled with research through customers, providers, payor networks found a gap in service as against the demand available for maternal and childcare services in India. Our entire ethos is based on our Chairman, Dr Kishore Kumar’s Philosophy that “Pregnancy is a wellness and not an illness”, till we started our services. It was found through our research that choice for couples were either nursing homes or corporate hospitals both of which had their own merits and demerits and our objective was to provide personalised experiences with the highest technical expertise and the best of clinical talent, all along cherishing the journey of pregnancy within an infrastructure catered to “Celebration, Comprehensive Care and Clinical Excellence”.  After the milestone of marriage, childbirth is one of the most cherished moments in one’s life and our services in handholding the couple through this life stage and being their trusted companion for everything that they need during this time have been a core offering.
The entire thought at Cloudnine is that maternity and birthing are perhaps the most precious moments in a mother’s life. That is something we would like to celebrate and we do that with all the the vigour and enthusiasm. This has been the core purpose of our journey over the last 12 years, and has kind of propelled us to the heights that we have reached today, where we give every customer a pure Cloudnine experience.
Question 6: Brief us about the current industry scenario from your perspective.
Response : The space that we operate in is an interesting one with the macro on account of rapid urbanization  and increase in women in the workforce being important drivers for growth. There is a clear emergence of the woman as the central decision maker in matters related to pregnancy and childbirth – as opposed to the past when there would be others taking critical decisions on behalf of the woman. This in turn has fueled the demand for a superior and fulfilling experience through the pregnancy journey while of course expecting clinical excellence.  Today, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals is the market leader in this space and has led the transformation in the industry, by making the experience of childbirth a joyous and memorable one. Besides providing top class clinical care and superior facilities Cloudnine has also ushered in a host of novel concepts such as Lamaze & Yoga classes, Baby showers, involvement of the father and other family members in the journey. Obviously the success of Cloudnine has spurred up several competitors to enter this market. But being the pioneer Cloudnine is committed to leading the field with its relentless focus on the Customer and excellence in operations.
As in any growing company especially in a sector like maternal and child healthcare where there is a stiff competition, the key challenges have been to ensure we put in enough means and mechanisms to ensure we stay on top of our customer promise and maintain our clinical quality excellence. We invest a lot of time and resources in training and motivating our teams to perform at their best levels. A key focus area for us has been to keep the company culture evolving and engrained whilst allowing for regional independence in creating new balanced environments. We have been able to attract top clinicians across the cities we operate in and we continuously learn from their experience and value addition to enrich our growing story.
Question 7: State us your major achievements and your company’s achievements under your leadership
Response:  As the first mover and pioneer in this sector, our ability to innovate has constantly helped us succeed. Innovation across customer experience, clinician engagement, staff training, technology intervention through both medical and digital means to further enhance outcomes have always helped us set a high benchmark of excellence. One of our key distinction has also been the fact that we are extremely transparent in our service offering and that has helped us cut through the otherwise hard to traverse industry mechanics on pricing. We have provided over 70000 mothers a truly Cloudnine experience as they gave birth their bundle of joy! There is frankly no greater accomplishment than seeing the smiles on faces and joy in the eyes of these families.
Question 8 : How do you see yourself and your company in the near future? Tell us about your future goals.
Response: This is an important question. We are looking at all our customers getting a pure Cloudnine experience here. And when we say Cloudnine, it basically means Uberization of Healthcare. And this is what we actually look at – that there is easy choice. It’s all available at the click of a button. Information is present, there is data access, one can make payments, write reviews and take feedback from us.
We are looking at all our customers coming together as a large ecosystem. We are bringing in a set of partners who will support this ecosystem with their products. So the mother and child, which is the core of this ecosystem, is supported by not only Cloudnine but all of Cloudnine cohorts in having a great journey, superb celebration for this absolute grand moment in their life, which is the birth of their baby
The world around us is now digital and our customers expect the same from us. We have therefore intensified our digital efforts – both for our customers as well as our doctors. We created a very friendly app for customers which enables them to do most of the transactions with us digitally – eg. doctor selection, appointment booking, payments. Similarly, we have enabled our doctors with digital technology wherein using a digital pen their prescriptions are fully digitised and stored and shared seamlessly with the customer. We see ourselves as pioneers in using digital technology in healthcare and one can expect many innovations in this space from us in the years to come.
The entire medical industry has been largely a doctor driven industry. It’s where digital transformation has been limited or slow, and is also one place that perhaps requires the maximum amount of digitalization because the fundamental need for the customer to have all access to information, data and to know that she’s been treated in the right way and she has access to past records – are core to this particular business. But unfortunately this has not been something which has been driven as hard in the medical industry as it should have been. What we are trying to do in Cloudnine is to actually start the journey right from day one completely digitally. So for example, when a customer walks into a Cloudnine hospital, she’s given a tab and enters all her registration data through the tab. There is no paper. All critical information, which is in the past was captured on a piece of paper, could lead to errors, the same errors gets captured as a data entry – this is completely eliminated. The power shifting from the hospital or provider to customer is the big shift. And this shift can only happen when we use digital means. This is a big transformation happening in healthcare. It may not come across as big but when you actually start seeing the impact of this, it shifts so many things. For example, more than 40 percent of our appointments today are being made through the app. The customer is actually not calling up new hospital or a call center but clicks on the app, chooses her doctor and makes her appointment. That’s a very, very, very big shift. We would like to see this virtually become 100 percent in the near term.
We will continue to strive to reach new heights in delivering on our objective of Healthy Mothers and Happy Babies. We have recently accelerated our initiatives at helping mothers who are unable to conceive through Fertility programs and centres. We are setting up best in class fertility centres across the country with the highest standards in clinical and ethical practices.
Question 9: What would you advise to the budding entrepreneurs?
My advice would be as follows:

  • In your early years be a sponge – soak up everything that you can learn from especially your customers
  • Have a clear business model with the customer at the core and follow the philosophy “customer is the King” for your success.
  • The goal of every business is to be profitable so have a clear path to profitability

Part B: Entrepreneurial Mindset
Expected answer in 2-3 lines/ or 30-50 words
“Factors according to you that Influence Business Relationships – ……
All Business relationships are based on value propositions. A customer pays you for the value that you provide. Similarly you pay your suppliers for the value that they provide. Even your investors invest in you because of your capability to create value for them. The stronger your value proposition the higher your share of the customer’s wallet and hence higher the competitive advantage for your vs other competitors.

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