Startup Of The Week: Wellness Travels
Please meet Paulius Jurgutis – co-founder of this week’s startup – Wellness Travels. A leading full-service medical tourism facilitator in Lithuania that helps people get a fair price for a high quality treatment. Paulius tells us more about Wellness Travels and what challenges they have faced.
Hello Paulius! So what is Wellness Travels? How it works?
Paulius: Wellness Travels is a leading full-service medical tourism facilitator in Lithuania. Our team makes all the necessary arrangements and provides full care for those who seek highest quality plastic and cosmetic surgeries at affordable prices. We also partner with top clinics in dentistry, vision correction, dermatology, weight-loss surgery, orthopedics and diagnostics.
What are your competitors and competitive advantages?
Paulius: Our main competitors are plastic surgery clinics in neighbouring countries. Other clinics in Lithuania do, actually (and counter-intuitively), indirectly help each other, as their marketing strengthen the general image of the country’s health care.
Our main competitive advantage lies on e-commerce solutions. Other players in the industry are still rather slow to adapt those. We are also much more advanced in usage of social networks & ads there.
Talking about our services, they are based on the following core principles: 1) personal approach; 2) fair price; 3) privacy & 4) no headaches for our patients.
What were the reasons behind coming up with this idea and launching this product?
Paulius: We have realised that Lithuania can provide foreign patients with quality medical treatment for much less. It is a classic market arbitrage situation.
When exactly did you launch, what were the main challenges before launching?
Paulius: We have recently celebrated 4 years since the launch of Wellness Travels. Surely, the main challenge before starting was: that we weren’t taken seriously by the potential partner clinics, as we were young & did not yet have any visible results. Health care is usually run by people in their forties, so one can imagine that it was not easy for two graduates to sell their idea. However, we were persistent & eventually managed to break the ice. It was Kaunas-based Aesthetic Surgery Centre that has believed in us. We work with them ever since.
What are main challenges while working on this product and how are you overcoming them?
Paulius: Foreign patients do not trust Lithuanian health care too much. Naturally, going to a little-known country for a serious surgery is a huge step for any person. For that reason, we must work very hard to win every inquiry that comes our way. Over the years, we have mastered our workflow and it is much easier right now than it was before.
Additionally, we have just filmed a video for Kaunas healthcare. It is aimed to loudly state that medical institutions in the city are world-class and, in turn, dispel any worries of our patients.
However, it’s just a half job done when the patient buys your service. In health care he/she must be also more than satisfied with the result of the treatment. If they are not, your business is dead. Therefore, we pay attention to every detail & every whiff of our patients when providing the services. Sometimes it goes to extremes, such as bringing ear plugs in the middle of night. But all that pays off. We are glad then our patients are happy!
How are you funded? Do you seek extra funding?
Paulius: Our income comes from the commission fees (from the clinics), as well as the patients directly. Recently, we have also won a grant from Kaunas municipality (Kaunas Young Businesses’ Competition) to expand our business.
Please introduce your founders, your core team and your broader team?
Paulius: Wellness Travels was established by Gediminas Kondrackis and Paulius Jurgutis. They are both young professionals, that have studied in the best European universities (University of Amsterdam, Stockholm School of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics, Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona & Universidade Nova de Lisboa).
Ever since coming back to Lithuania (in 2013), they have worked on numerous initiatives (in medical tourism and elsewhere). Among which:
- Medical tourism consulting & strategy for UAE providers;
- Youth projects in Lithuania and beyond (Active Youth Association);
- Social initiatives helping refugees & other vulnerable groups (Refugees.lt).
Naturally, to provide a complete service we work with several top-brass clinics in Lithuania (employing experienced medical teams). We also outsource parts of our non-medical services to other trusted providers.
How has business been so far? Could you share some numbers to illustrate this?
Paulius: Our business is growing each year, approximately by 30-50%. This October we have directly sold services worth over €40000. Next year we plan to bring in revenues (including sold medical treatments) of around €575000.
Future plans, ambitions? Simply speaking – what’s next?
Paulius: Our next step: optimize our old websites and make it much easier to navigate for mobile devices’ users.
Ambition: expand further and capture foreign demand of treatments other than plastic surgery. We are especially interested in offering more health checks, diagnostics, bariatric and orthopaedic procedures.