July 27, 2015

Best in Class: How Bodhi Health Education Aced Its Pitch

Abhinav Girdhar of Bodhi Health Education is an entrepreneur with an innovative model for improving healthcare delivery in India: his organization uses low-cost mobile technology and customized e-learning tools to provide quality and scalable training to health workers.

Bodhi Health Education engages health workers from all literacy levels by providing training on complex medical topics by using interactive and pictorial videos in regional languages. The use of a ­­mobile platform increases flexibility of training schedules and locations, and allows health workers continuous access to material to refresh and renew their learning. In a country facing a chronic shortage of quality health workers, this innovation has the potential to radically improve health delivery. Bodhi currently operates across three states in India and has trained over 650 health workers, impacting more than 500,000 lives.

But like many entrepreneurs, Abhinav spends more time thinking about how to run his business than how to talk about his business. But through a small amount of help from Innovations in Healthcare and the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD) program at Duke, he gained some important insight into how to better pitch his business to investors.  In January 2015, Bodhi Health Education was selected to be part of SEAD– a USAID funded program in which Innovations in Healthcare is a key partner.  SEAD and Innovations in Healthcare are committed to finding innovative models like Bodhi and helping them to scale in a variety of ways.  Through the Annual SEAD Summit held in March 2015, Bodhi got the chance to network with fellow innovators and get hands on business advice from Duke faculty members and experts.  At the Innovations in Healthcare Annual Forum, held shortly after the SEAD Summit, Bodhi was offered the chance to pitch their model to a panel of investor judges including representatives from Arabella Advisors, Eleos Foundation, Imprint Capital, and Sorenson Global Impact Investing Center.  Each presentation was judged on the ability to be visually appealing, easy to follow, and of course, conveying the message of being a valuable healthcare innovation in their region.

Leading up to this pitch opportunity at the Annual Forum, Abhinav spent time with the SEAD program optimizing his investment pitch – working closely with a Fuqua MBA student in early 2015 and over a strategy session with Investors’ Circle during the SEAD Summit held in Durham, NC.

“The strategy session with Investor Circle was extremely useful. The deck which I had was long and the first feedback I got was ‘It took way too much time to articulate the problem.’ The mentors from Investor Circle helped me in cutting through the slides and improving the flow.” Abhinav said. “After multiple revisions the presentation had three key areas—the problem, Bodhi's solution to the problem and the proof that the solution works.”

During a bus ride from Durham to Washington, DC, where the Innovations in Healthcare Annual Forum was being held, Abhinav then re-worked his presentation, practiced talking points and ultimately walked away with the award for best investment pitch during the Forum – receiving a $5,000 cash prize.

“Winning the best investment pitch award has been extremely useful,” Abhinav said. “It has brought good visibility to Bodhi Health primarily because we have been able to explain what we do clearly. This has resulted in some good partnership opportunities.  With the cash prize we are working on creating gamification based products for nurses and paramedics and the revised pitch has now become the standard base deck which we are using to present Bodhi to investors. We used the same pitch at the Funder's Showcase at the DBS-NUS Social Venture Challenge Asia at Singapore. There has been a good response from the investors and have been able to take the discussion forward for the next capital raise.”

When asked what advice he would have for fellow innovators looking to improve their pitches, Abhinav said: Entrepreneurs should put themselves in the shoes of the investors while making pitches. We don't realize but we sometimes go on and on in describing the product we have built. It is extremely important to tell the investors about the business side. This is the prime reason why a lot of start-ups fail to raise capital.”

Bodhi Health Education is one of 55 companies operating in 47 different countries in the Innovations in Healthcare network.  Our network includes sustainable rural and urban clinics, insurance products for lower income markets and lower cost technologies such as anti-counterfeiting solutions and safe birthing kits. And we are continuing to search the globe for more innovative models!

We are currently accepting nominations for new innovators through August 14th. Through a competitive selection process, innovators are chosen to join our network based on the strength of their innovation, their readiness to scale, and the financial sustainability of their approach. Once selected innovators receive a variety of non-financial support including great showcasing opportunities, access to our student internship program, peer learning opportunities

If you are interested in nominating your organization or an organization you think would be a great fit, for our network, please click here.