Motherhood is celebrated in India with the highest respect and is one of the most beautiful moments in life. However, India is still challenged on the maternal and infant mortality fronts. Healthcare schemes of the Govt. are not sufficient and these efforts need to be supported through high-end specialist services towards mother and child care. One such specialist who has taken up the task to his heart and soul is Dr. R Kishore Kumar, creating a ‘new life’ experience through his innovative healthcare startup and hospital chain, Cloudnine.
Dr. Kumar is the Founder and Chairman of Cloudnine. He was awarded a gold medal by Mysore University upon graduating as a pediatrician in 1989. He aspired then of pursuing a sub-specialization in neonatology moved to the UK soon after for further training. Over the next few years, he worked across the UK and Australia. He became instrumental in establishing Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) and training, sensitizing doctors and nurses to high-risk environments. While the academic and entrepreneurial appetite was somewhat satiated through these endeavors, he craved for a particular deeper relevance and meaning.
Inspired to Serve the Homeland
In 2006, Dr. Kumar had reached the pinnacle of his career in the western world and worked at the best teaching hospitals. He had been a faculty member at prestigious universities, and also had created and developed NICUs at notable hospitals. During that time, he was encouraged by Mr. Bill Clinton indicating that the future belonged to India as a nation with higher number of middle-class people than the entire population of USA. He was inspired by a vision to replicate all that he has learned and more in his homeland India. That was the impetus that led him to establish Cloudnine.
Return to India with a Dream
Dr. Kumar returned to India, awakened by a dream to uplift the Indian maternity and neonatal healthcare scenario, which had remained stagnant and recessive for decades. For a well-established person like him in global neonatology circles, it was a risky, audacious gamble. Almost everybody gave suggestions to rethink the idea or to divert to multi-specialty. But he remained steady and secured angel funding from friends and relatives. He also added to his team some of Bangalore’s finest clinicians who were eager to experience the edge of singular maternity and neonatal facility.
The Birth of the Cloundnine
In 2007, with unwavering self-belief, Dr. Kumar breathed life into Cloudnine with three other co-founders and a small team to back him up. Over the years, he successfully instituted all that he had envisioned and managed to mark a national footprint. The company has achieved 0% maternal mortality and 99.34% survival rates for babies – one of the best figures in the world – at a fraction of the cost of the western world.
Expanding the Horizons of Medical Care
Driven by Dr. Kumar’s leadership, Cloudnine has grown by leaps and bounds both horizontally and vertically since its inception. It started out as a mother and baby hospital with a clinical team of just two neonatologists. By adding fertility to its existing product portfolio, the company achieved a backward integration that paved the way for a full-spectrum umbrella of services, including pediatrics, maternal intensive care and most recently, cosmetology. Even more than ten years later, a whole plethora of brands are emerging in the woman and child care space, imitating the model given by the team and attempting to pitch identical offerings.
The team at Cloudnine is never oblivious to competition, but its strategy has always been to stay ahead of the curve. It is a trailblazer in the field of mother and child care. The team keeps its innovation engine running to constantly reimagine products and services in tune with global transformation.
Primal Challenges and Roadblocks
To begin with, there were challenges in every area of operations for Dr. Kumar. Mobilizing a launch team, fine-tuning the architectural layout and seeking the requisite government license, building a high-quality circle of physicians, and training the nursing staff was among some of the main hurdles. But there was another unique roadblock that he faced, affecting a perceptual shift among customers. He was determined to change that perception through the credo pregnancy is wellness, not an illness, with a quiver of celebrations, which have gone on to become synonymous with the Cloudnine brand.
After moving overseas, Dr. Kumar was astonished to see the maternal and neonatal care disparity between India and the western world. He seldom witnessed any deaths during his service years abroad in contrast to the multiple daily deaths he could experience during his training in India.
Advice to Emerging Entrepreneurs
Dr. Kumar elucidates that the attributes of an entrepreneur are passion, team spirit, leadership, a healthy risk appetite and lack of a Thank God It’s Friday attitude can go a long way in successful entrepreneurship. In his advice to emerging entrepreneurs, Dr. Kumar says, “Follow your heart, take risks, work hard, count on your team and prepare for ups and downs in life and in business. Most importantly, believe in yourself, and make sure every decision you take is as relevant today, as it will be ten years from now.”
Future Goals for Motherhood
Now that he and his team have presented a reimagined prototype of the woman and child care across several cities, he aspires to extend the model to the public sector. In near future, he has set a goal to augment government to raise standards in maternal and neonatal care and lowering maternal and neonatal mortality rates in the country. Bringing back the glory of motherhood and sustenance of life for Indian families is the ultimate objective.
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