With Vancouver being filled with so many outdoor activities such as our favourite, the Grouse Grind, there are many ways to stay fit but also, get injured. Whether it be a sore back or a recent cavity, sometimes people find themselves scrambling to get it checked out by a clinic that can slot them in last minute. Founded by Vancouver twin brothers, local startup Connect the Doc has a way to make that booking process much smoother and easier for both parties. We managed to sit down with one of the co-founders, Nasheel Kassam.
Who are you? Tell us about your Business/ Core idea.
Connect the Doc is an online healthcare directory that allows prospective patients to search for different types of healthcare professionals and book their appointments online. The idea is simple: If someone injures himself or herself and needs to find a massage therapist or physiotherapist immediately where can they go? Traditionally, a patient would have to call several clinics to try and find an appointment that works with their schedule. Inevitably the patient will spend too much time calling different clinics, have to re-arrange their day just to accommodate an appointment, or have to wait several days to see the practitioner. Using Connect the Doc this patient can find and book their ideal appointment at a nearby clinic in just a few clicks.
Where did the idea come from?
My dad is a dentist. In 2010 he was unable to attend the beginning of my brother’s graduation because one of his patients had a dental emergency. My dad tried to find another dentist to cover the appointment but he couldn’t find any availabilities. Nadeem told him to just look for an appointment online, but my dad assured him online appointment bookings did not exist for dentists in Canada. Nadeem and I went to the chalkboard and started conceiving the concept for Connect the Doc. After we completed our market research, we started building the platform with a local web agency, Marketing Smartt.
What have been the greatest challenges?
Money, Money, and Money! We completely bootstrapped Connect the Doc. Through various negotiations and outside of the box solutions we have been able to get the business going on a shoestring budget. We are also very fortunate to be working with such a fantastic internet marketing agency, Marketing Smartt, especially since our background is not computer science based. It’s also tough to put life on hold. Virtually ever penny we make goes right back into the business. As such we are both living at home and on a budget.
What is your long-term vision?
Our goal is for Connect the Doc to be the primary website people use to find and book healthcare appointments in Canada. Much like what Expedia has accomplished in the travel industry, we think we can accomplish in the healthcare industry.
How does this effect/improve the culture/life of Vancouver?
I am happy to be part of such an amazing city! Vancouverites are extremely active / health conscious, which makes our service extremely useful when someone needs to find an appointment on short notice. Most people want to get rid of body pains instantly, they do not want to wait a couple days or weeks to see if their bodies naturally heal. They also do not want take a sick day or rearrange their schedule to accommodate a one-hour appointment. We know that the convenience our services provides will help patients get the most out of their day and their body, allowing them to stretch their own limits!
Advice for other entrepreneurs?
Spend your money wisely! There are so many entrepreneurs who don’t treat every penny like it’s their last. Saving a couple hundred bucks could be a difference maker. Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet and try learning a couple new skills on a weekly basis. You can also try working out mutually beneficial deals with other local companies to save some of your funds. With this said, there are certain parts of starting a business that require lots of time and money. I would not cut any corners with legal documents or business registrations.
Connect the Doc has been featured in a handful of publication across the country such as Techvibes and the Georgia Strait. It’s still early days for the company but they are most certainly filling in a void to better bridge patients with private healthcare professionals as they both have those last minute needs. Keep your eyes peeled for this dynamic duo as the Kassam’s continue to scale the business and bring more clinics on board to make it easier to book that appointment, with limited hassle and all with a few clicks.
Stay in touch @pauldavidescu
*Vancity Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs or startups that are making Vancouver a better place. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send firstname.lastname@example.org an email explaining why*