“Text messages — SMS — Can you create powerful content in 140 characters or less?” mDhil’s founder Nandu Madhava asked during his presentation at the mHI event in Washington D.C. “My answer: Yes. Look at Twitter. Basic texts are not only for creating information, but also for creating change. I launched our service in March 2009 and we now 150,000 paid users have accessed our content. Do you know of a more successful mHealth company? Let me know if you do.”
mDhil offers text messages with information on various health topics, including: diabetes, H1N1, maternal health, female reproduction and male reproduction. While these subjects are commonly taught in the U.S., mDhil is currently exclusively operating in India, where some of these topics, particularly sexual health topics are not commonly discussed. mDhil charges approximately 65 cents per message. The startup partners with wireless operators including Idea Cellular, Airtel, Reliance, which get a substantial cut of revenue from each message sent.
Madhava and the team at mDhil is working toward 1 million users by the end of 2010 and hopes to hit 3 million by the end of 2011. Consider that there are currently 525 million mobile users in India (that number is growing very quickly 12 million to 14 million more each month) and Madhava’s ambitions may not seem so out of reach.
mDhil does not provide medical advice or access to physicians, nurses or other care providers. Its mission is to inform the public on health issues. The companies success has caught the attention of some care providers in India that mDhil hopes to partner with in the near future.
mDhil has yet to publicly launch their corporate site, but Madhava expects to have that up by month’s end.
Apart from its fees, mDhil has no current plans to embed advertising in its messages, however, the company does retain some basic information about its users and does reserve the right to market to them in the future with the understanding that it will not sell its users’ information.
Madhava said that trying to work with foundations has been frustrating since they are not as willing to work with for-profit startups. Despite that challenge, Madhava said mDhil recently secured a Series A financing round, which will allow it to continue to grow.