The chances are that in our increasingly busy lives, we will need to get health advice and information at short notice and potentially outside of usual medical practitioner hours or without having to wait for clinic appointments, meaning that an alternative is required. South African techpreneur, Gaby Lobban, founder of Zumbudda, knows this scenario only too well as a busy working mother of three children. Her website offering real-time e-chats with expert healthcare professionals is providing a great and innovative solution.
As part of our month-long focus on inspirational and innovative women healthpreneurs in Africa, LoA spoke to Gaby Lobban about the gap in the market that her technology company Zumbudda is filling with a great solution.
What does your company do?
Zumbudda is a technology company which has launched a website offering REAL-Time eChats with healthcare professionals (Experts) to people looking for advice. More personal than a Google search and more specialised than a helpline. The technology used is proprietary software which allows the Expert to charge a set rate per minute and anyone can sign up to chat using credits purchased through an approved payment gateway like PayPal. Practitioners know their limits of care so they are very wary and conservative in their approach to eVisits but they often consult on the phone for minor problems so all this does is move the call to an online text chat which is billed per minute. This also ensures both parties have a record of their conversation which they can keep on file for future reference.
"Zumbudda does not replace face-to-face consultations but offers a convenient and inexpensive way to ask for health advice."
What inspired you to start your company?
I am a working mother with three children. I have often phoned my family practitioner to ask for health advice which did not need a face-to-face consultation and was resolved quickly and efficiently over the phone. However, I felt that this was not ideal for both of us as she was often unavailable and I also felt that it was an imposition on her as she did not charge me. Doing online Google searches was not personal enough for me nor specific enough and I realised that a website which offered REAL-Time advice at a fair price by an Expert would be a good way to solve the problem. Many people are worried about receiving a diagnosis over the internet, but this is not the purpose of the website. Advice could include questions about a health issue or to get clarity on a medication or even confirm if you need to go seek a face-to-face consultation urgently. When your own practitioner is unavailable often there isn't a relationship with another Expert so Zumbudda could be a plan B or a second opinion. I believe there are a lot of working mothers and single fathers who would benefit from this website but it could be for anybody, young or old seeking healthcare advice.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
Zumbudda does not replace face-to-face consultations but offers a convenient and inexpensive way to ask for health advice. The per minute billing is based on a set per minute fee which the Expert selects on their profile. This ensures that there is no overcharging and no hidden costs and is not charged a set fee for a consultation. Experts are selected through a quality assurance process and they also have to sign up and become members which ensures that they are registered with the relevant regulating body or council. Experts can work more flexible hours and manage their office hours more efficiently by being available online to their clients after hours or during non-peak periods.
"I am working on several different plans to expand my business model into markets which focus on specific needs in healthcare."
Tell us a little about your team
Zumbudda comprises a small tech team who manage the website and operations. The website has been designed to be fully automated to ensure efficient billing, report generating and most of the manual work is in the quality assurance processes and financial management.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
My father and my uncle are both entrepreneurs in the healthcare industry. My uncle started the first generic medicine manufacturing facility in South Africa in the 1980s and my father started his own healthcare distribution company over 30 years ago. Both were my mentors and gave me a strong belief that hard work, lots of thinking and persistence pays off. If you think it is going to be easy then think again. My father only retired this year and he is 78. I worked for him for 15 years but went on to work for a much larger company, also run by an entrepreneur. What all these men had in common is the fact that they never gave up when things got really tough. Not everyone has this bouncability but I believe that going through many of these tough experiences with them has given me a realistic understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I am working on several different plans to expand my business model into markets which focus on specific needs in healthcare. I believe that there is a place for eVisits in primary healthcare; in the lower income groups where people don't have medical aid and where there is very little access to any healthcare at all. There are also healthcare providers which operate a help line facility who want to offer something more specialised and are interested in Zumbudda's technology.
"I believe that there is a place for eVisits in primary healthcare; in the lower income groups where people don't have medical aid and where there is very little access to any healthcare at all."
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
The most positive thing about being an entrepreneur is knowing that I can encourage others to do the same because I have done it myself. I am a mentor for the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and a member of a startup organisation called Silicon Cape Women which helps and guides female entrepreneurs to access resources in order to start their own businesses. This is a journey and it is a difficult one. The more I can do to encourage and help other women, the more it motivates me.
"Women are wired to be cautious and thank goodness, but it often holds us back." Gaby Lobban, founder of @Zumbudda
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Don't be afraid. Fear is the only thing holding you back. Women are wired to be cautious and thank goodness, but it often holds us back. If you really think you have a good idea or product then go for it, don't let anyone try to distract you from your path. Its easy to say but from my experience in business, very few get it right the first or the second time and failure is part of the process of finding success. Men are not fools but they take risks and face the bull head on. This is why they tend to succeed more often than women. Good luck!
Contact or follow Zumbudda
Why LoA loves it….
At LoA we love innovators and those women entrepreneurs who think outside the box and find effective solutions to existing challenges or problems. Gaby Lobban is one such techpreneur who is helping to provide greater and more convenient access to healthcare advice by harnessing the power of technology. Her solution is empowering people to take control of their health and wellbeing by providing access to professional advice at the touch of a button. In today’s increasingly busy lives, this innovative approach is not only responding to customer needs, but is also creating an interesting business model at the same time. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa