Nandan Nilekani invests in eye-care chain Drishti

Disha Medical Services Pvt Ltd, an eye-care chain focused on providing affordable treatment in underserved markets under the brand Drishti, has received funding from former Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani, it said in a statement.

However, the financial details of the investment, which was done through Nilekani's Family Office— Entrust—were not revealed.

The company will use the funds to reach six more districts in Karnataka in the next phase of expansion, it said. Drishti currently operates in four districts in Karnataka -- Bangalore Rural, Chikkaballapur, Ramanagara and Chitradurga.

"This (funding) will help Drishti deliver quality eye care through eye hospitals, telemedicine supported vision centres and mobile eye clinics," said Kiran Anandampillai, founder and CEO of Drishti.

Anandampillai separately told VCCircle the funds will be used to open six hospitals, six to 10 vision centres and six mobile vision centres in the next 18 months. It takes about Rs 1-1.5 crore to open a hospital and almost an equal amount for the vision centre, he added.

The company currently has three hospitals, three vision centres and two mobile vision centres.

Its consultations at hospitals are priced at Rs 100, prescription glasses are available from Rs 300 and cataract surgeries from Rs 3800, according to its website.

Drishti had raised around Rs 2.5 crore as seed capital, bulk of which came from Lok Capital, in 2012. Subsequently in 2013, the company had raised an undisclosed amount from Lok Capital in its Series A round.

The firm was started in 2012 by Anandampillai with his wife Anjali Joshi and ophthalmologist Rajesh Babu. Anandampillai, a telecommunication engineer, earlier worked in Infosys and was part of founding team of OnMobile when it was a 10-member start-up.

According to a report by CRISIL, India’s eye-care treatment market was worth around $2 billion in 2014 and is expected to grow to $3 billion by 2020.

Another investor-backed company which provides low-cost eye-care services for the bottom-of-the-pyramid (BoP) market is Assam-based ERC Eye Care Pvt Ltd. It had raised an angel round of funding in December 2013 from Ennovent and Ankur Capital, among others.

Other eye care chains which have attracted PE funding include Chennai-based Dr Agarwal's Healthcare Ltd and Vasan Healthcare, and Gurgaon-based Eye-Q Vision Pvt. Ltd. Eye-care chain New Delhi Centre For Sight recently received approval for its initial public offering IPO from markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), underlining the investor interest in the sector.

Nilekani has been an active investor in startups in the past months. His recent investments include Systemantics India Pvt Ltd, an industrial robots maker and Power2SME, an online buying hub for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

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