In the world of health and well-being, Rohan Pardasani, the Founder of Avaana, is a true innovator. Avaana, his brainchild, has revolutionized well-being services in Australia, simplifying the process of finding and booking them in real-time.
With a vast network of over 4000 practitioners easily accessible to users, Avaana empowers individuals to discover and book personalized well-being services. It also provides practitioners with the tools they need to optimize their schedules and expand their reach. But Rohan’s vision goes even further; his company also plays a crucial role in helping businesses become registered NDIS providers, making it easier for them to achieve success and growth.
Here’s his story.
In 2019, Rohan embarked on a journey to strike a harmonious balance between work and personal life. He had planned an interstate holiday with the intention of indulging in self-care activities like massages, yoga, and workouts, accompanied by his then-girlfriend and now wife, Dee. However, Rohan’s quest for relaxation quickly took an unexpected turn. He found himself spending more time glued to his screen, scouring the internet for health, fitness, and wellbeing services.
In his own words, he lamented, “Rather than enjoying a yoga class finding length in my spine, I was hunched over my screen poring through an endless list of providers on Google. After hours (yes, hours!) of endless searching, calling local spas, studios, and massage therapists, I still hadn’t found anything I was comfortable with. This process felt like more of a workout than a personal training session at the gym!”
Amidst mounting disappointment and frustration, Rohan decided to take matters into his own hands. He recalled, “The solution seemed clear at the time: a dedicated wellbeing marketplace. The first of its kind in Australia. A dedicated marketplace where everyday Aussies like myself could not only find practitioners to help them on their wellbeing journey but also book in directly with them as well in real-time.”
Lessons in perseverance
Rohan provided valuable insights into Avaana’s multifaceted approach, emphasizing their commitment to excellence in various aspects of their business. He stated, “On the tech side of the business, our platform integrates with 15 different types of calendars and practice management systems trusted by the industry. This helps our busy clients find and book the well-being services they need at a time that fits with their busy schedules.”
From a product perspective, Rohan highlighted Avaana’s distinct advantage in the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) arena, underscoring how it elevated the quality of their practitioner base, surpassing competitors. In his own words, he said, “Our network of practitioners is usually of higher quality than our competitors. Our users can be assured that they are dealing with a practitioner that has been independently audited as meeting the high-quality standards of the NDIS Commission. This is a higher and more rigorous standard than AHPRA and other practitioner accreditation standards alone.”
Looking ahead, Rohan shared exciting developments in their product roadmap, explaining, “In terms of how we hope to stay ahead… the part of our product roadmap we are most excited about is our corporate health and wellbeing platform layer which is powered by our Wellbeing Journeys technology.”
Rohan delved further into the transformative potential of their workplace wellbeing solutions, noting, “The fundamental issue with traditional workplace and corporate wellbeing solutions is that ‘wellbeing’ means something different to all of us.” He expressed their belief that Avaana’s innovative approach could redefine how businesses support their employees’ health and wellbeing. Describing Avaana’s workplace wellbeing solution, he elaborated, “Avaana’s workplace wellbeing solution connects employees with the local wellbeing practitioners they need, only asking their employer to pay (or contribute) to the cost of the wellbeing service via a monthly subscription charged on a per-employee basis.”
Rohan emphasized the tangible benefits for business clients, stating, “Avaana’s existing business clients see the potential for Avaana’s Hybrid Wellbeing solution to have several key benefits for their employees.” He highlighted the potential cost savings and value-added benefits compared to traditional private health insurance extras.
“In fact,” Rohan continued, “every dollar the employee or their employer invests in the employee’s health and wellbeing can net 105% value in health benefits via Avaana as well as additional credits and discounts on every booking. This is compared with private health insurance extras where less than 45 cents in the dollar goes towards healthcare for every $1 spent, with the average out-of-pocket payment per service being $57.65.
“Employees are also excited that they can redeem them spend as and when they see fit and aren’t restricted by caps, limits, and lack of service and practitioner availability, with Avaana providing 20 categories of well-being services for the redemption of credits.”
Navigating the chicken-and-egg dilemma
In the challenging landscape of Australia’s marketplace ecosystem, Rohan faced a familiar dilemma – the formidable “chicken and egg problem” that confronts many startups. As he recalled, “Like other marketplaces in Australia and globally, the chicken and egg problem was a very real challenge for us early on.” With a keen understanding that relying solely on booking commissions wouldn’t sustain them in their inaugural year, Rohan set out to find a solution that would not only ensure their marketplace’s viability but also provide valuable support to the practitioners it served.
Detailing their strategic approach, Rohan explained, “In terms of our value-add, what I was able to identify was the world of NDIS registration.” Their plan revolved around assisting wellbeing practitioners on their marketplace in obtaining NDIS registration, solving a significant challenge for them. Rohan elaborated on the benefits of this move, stating that it would “Turn our practitioner acquisition cost center into a revenue-generating business unit,” through consultancy fees for their services. Additionally, this initiative aimed to “Help us to attract practitioners to the marketplace by building a reputation in the broader care and wellbeing market” and “Help us to fund user acquisition for the marketplace.”
Bold moves for a bright future
When reflecting on the challenges faced during Avaana’s inception, Rohan pinpointed a common hurdle: the vexing chicken-and-egg problem. He stressed the importance of perseverance, emphasising, “In terms of important lessons I have learned, never give up! This is particularly true for marketplace founders because at the early stages of any marketplace if you judge success on purely revenue-based metrics, life can be very depressing.”
As a seasoned entrepreneur, Rohan offered valuable advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs. He shared insights from key team members, stating, “One of the best pieces of advice was given by our Operations Lead, Steve Dhungel, and Product Lead, Matt Robertson.” He highlighted their constant emphasis on customer-centricity and swift problem-solving. This approach led them to launch the NDIS arm of their business and explore corporate opportunities driven by customer needs.
Additionally, Rohan encouraged entrepreneurs to take bold strides and tackle substantial challenges for larger clients. He urged them to embrace calculated risks that have the potential to create a significant impact in their respective industries.