Wellthy Therapeutics: Priming Next-Generation HealthTech Leaders

Abhishek Shah,  CEOGrowing up as a second generation healthcare entrepreneur for Abhishek Shah, CEO and Founder of Wellthy Therapeutics, meant that every dinner table conversation was akin to a board meeting. His mother led a medical consumables business and his father ran a pharmaceutical company. “There is a difference between how the older generation was used to running a family business and what business school teaches you. Today, companies are leaner and decentralised the owner doesn’t make all the decisions. I wanted that. But more importantly, I wanted to build a leadership team that lasts,” says Shah.

Before starting his own venture, Shah pursued his education in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Georgia Tech and followed it up with an MBA from the Indian School of Business. For the next five years working as a VC he had the opportunity to watch many entrepreneurs build their business from the ground up, to succeed and fail, and start up again. He was ready to get his hands dirty.

That’s when Abhishek met Prayat Shah, who joined the team as a Co-founder and VP of Partnerships. Both co-founders had parents who were struggling to manage type 2 diabetes. Their idea was fuelled by empathy, driven by clinical science and propelled by technology that could create real-world change offline.

The Idea
In 2015, Wellthy Therapeutics was born - Asia’s first digital therapeutics(DTx)company with a team of 5 which included a doctor, research specialist, data scientist and 2 health educators. The DTx product aimed to get patients with chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol to make healthy behaviour changes which would lead to improved health outcomes. The team started with Type 2 diabetes and used WhatsApp for their pilot study to keep initial costs down.

Within the first year, the team had conducted 13 pilots with hundreds of patients to test clinical efficacy, technical feasibility and user acceptability across android and iOS
applications. The product was endorsed by the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India(RSSDI) as a prescription grade program for type-II diabetes.

Within the first year, the team had conducted 13 pilots with hundreds of patients to test clinical efficacy, technical feasibility and user acceptability across android and iOS applications

Building a Team
The force behind the idea is the team, says Shah. The company is now 125 strong with three offices. This includes a mix of startup enthusiasts and experienced members from premier MNCs. The team brims of alumni from institutions like Georgia Institute of Technology, Indian School of Business, Harvard University, University of Oxford, University of Virginia, Indian Institute of Technology- Bombay, Manipal Institute of Technology and London Business School to name a few. Hierarchy is flat, end of sprint fridays are'fun', work styles are flexible and “hustle” is a score that has an official spot on employee review forms.

At the Nariman Point headquarters, the average age of the team is 30 years. A mini golf course, dart board and foosball table occupy prime real estate within the work floor plan. According to Christian Fernandes, Human Resource Manager at Wellthy Therapeutics, a fluid work space is the best way to boost productivity. “Our work involves a lot of inter disciplinary functions so it’s important for different teams to collaborate in work and fun. We don’t have a game room to blow off steam, we have zones where different teams play and end up ideating. This helps boost creativity,” she says.

Team Wellthy Therapeutics
Culture of Care
The startup culture nurtures selfstarters. Team leader boards and internal knowledge sharing sessions ensure employees are up skilling and developing their professional profiles. Malvika Sharma, Senior Manager Strategy & Partnerships, has been with the company for 2.5 years and is at the top of her game. When Wellthy partnered with Bayer in 2019, Sharma was chosen to attend a mentorship programme in Berlin. “Cross cultural core competence is at the crux of today’s sustainable competitive advantage and the time I spent at the Bayer head office in Berlin, really helped me develop the strategic skill set to master doing business across cultures.”

“We believe in work life harmony. It’s a young company so there will be days where you might need to work late or on a weekend. And on certain weekdays, you might just want to disconnect and be with your loved ones. People’s creativity peak and troughs at different points. That’s how we create a workplace that people relate to. We have each other’s back it feels like a family.” says Anam Dhila, VP, Finance. He is talking specifically about the flexiwork plan which lets employees work around family or health concerns.