An Interview with Hult@UMD Winner OnCall


In the fall semester, OnCall was crowned winner of the Hult Prize competition at the University of Maryland, College Park. The Hult Prize is the largest student social enterprise case competition in the world. On Friday, November 30th, fifteen teams competed in a local edition of the event to solve the challenge of how to develop a business idea to create 10,000 meaningful jobs for young people over the next decade. OnCall will move onto the regional level of the Hult Prize competition to be held this weekend in March 2019 in Boston.  

OnCall wants to solve an important problem in in India – not enough doctors to support the country’s growing population – with telemedicine. There are currently 200,000 unemployed doctors in India and only six practicing doctors per 10,000 people. OnCall imagines building a platform where doctors can connect with patients outside of the traditional medical system, which is expensive and overburdened, by providing quality care remotely. OnCall will create jobs for unemployed young people via a unique certification process to become medical officers who will support doctors on the platform. Together, they will provide patients with services ranging from checkups to maintenance of chronic diseases leveraging mobile technology and data analytics.

Katharine McHugh, MBA ’19 the Hult Prize UMD Campus Director, sat down with the OnCall team to learn more about their idea and the secret to their success. Rasheeq Rayhan is a first year MBA student, Alex Woo is pursuing an MS in biomedical engineering, and Justin Fenn is studying for an MS in computer science.

Katharine: What was the inspiration for your idea?

Rasheeq: I’d been doing research about the problem of lack of doctors in India. Alex and I had been meeting regularly at Rudy’s to talk about startup ideas, and one day he mentioned that he’d seen an article about a mobile medical unit in Denmark. And I was like, yeah definitely, I can do research on that for the India market and for the developing market.

Alex: A couple of months ago I had been looking at articles on the current state of healthcare and different structures people had tried out in different countries, including Denmark. I also listened to some Ted Talks about mobile medicine and talked to a few professors and doctors. One of the things Rasheeq told me when we talked about this idea, that I had no idea about, was that there were so many unemployed doctors in India.

Katharine: And Rasheeq this idea has personal meaning for you, right?

Rasheeq: Yes, my mom is going to India next month [from Bangladesh] for medical treatment because we can’t afford to go to Singapore right now. So, this is very heartfelt from me because if she’d been treated correctly the first time, she should already be better. But we couldn’t find a doctor and so her infection spread quickly and now she needs another operation, so we’re looking for doctors in India. We hope to take this idea to Bangladesh after India where the problem is a lack of specialized doctors because they all leave the country.

Alex: OnCall is more than just an app. It’s how to establish trust outside of a traditional healthcare structure. And the benefit of taking people out of the current hospital model is that there are a whole bunch of fees you’re paying right now, including for the whole infrastructure – we hope to be able to provide medical treatment for less by reducing those costs.  

Rasheeq: In the traditional hospital system doctors have pressure to meet quotas for medical sales. With OnCall doctors will be able to maintain their integrity by prescribing only what is needed. And be able to leverage better diagnostic technology. The tech is there for us to be able to use AI in our model to do better with treatment. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s like how Uber suggests to the driver to take road A or B.  

Katharine: Tell me more about how you’ll generate 10,000 jobs for young people and the role of the medical officers.

Alex: In addition to employing unemployed doctors, you make all those unemployed doctors become a center for job growth. For the medical officers, we’re providing a training program for people who have at least a high school degree. In addition to the [classroom] training that they will be getting, they’ll be going out with these doctors to meet patients. Healthcare is a growing market in India and the benefit is that after you get this training you can opt into many different jobs in the sector.

Justin: Along with the corporate-level jobs, we’ll also be creating MedTech jobs in India as well in IT and for other admin support.  

Katharine: Your next step is pitching at the Hult Prize regionals in Boston in March.  How are you preparing for that?

Justin: We need to flesh out how to incorporate specialist doctors and flesh out the relationship between doctor and medical officer and support staff.

Alex: We’re going to pitch this to a ton of people and tell them to poke holes in it to see where it fails and then develop a way to fix it. We want to know what we’re doing.

Rasheeq: We need to summarize our talking points in a stricter way and figure out the necessary information for our pitch deck. We need someone with a fresh head who doesn’t know about the idea to help us.  

Katharine: Tell me about your team dynamic? What makes it work? 

Alex: All of us are very relaxed people. We’re very good at bouncing ideas off each other, and don’t get caught up in ‘this is right, or this is wrong’. We’re able to move onto a new idea and not get entrenched – this has been the most useful in being able to determine what ideas are the most valid.

Rasheeq: When I was thinking about forming this Hult Team I wanted to diversify our thinking outside the MBA. So, since Alex is biomedical engineering and Justin is computer science, it brings new things on the table. It’s important to have people on different wavelengths, and that helped our team really work. We brainstormed a lot and there wasn’t personal conflict where people said they didn’t like this idea or that, it was more of a conversation. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, but how receptive you are to other ideas.

Justin: We can play devil’s advocate with each other without getting offended. I can argue an opposite point to Rasheeq or Alex, and I’ll be passionate about the idea, but we’ll go back and forth and back and forth, then one of us will say, yeah, that’s a good point and we’ll move on.

Alex: it helps that each person on this team has their own stake in it [OnCall] and is passionate about the idea. We really believe that this should work and that we can do it.

Katharine: Any advice for teams next year? 

Justin: Don’t wait until the last minute [to develop your idea and pitch].

Alex: Get more people who are radically different and then have them argue about an idea to come up with a better idea. You need people who are willing to think bigger.

Rasheeq: It’s not about the idea or the work, it’s about the people. Be flexible and pick out people who you will be comfortable working with. You can have the best idea in the world, but it’s not going to take off. It’s like a marriage, but with more people, and tougher than marriage because you’re talking about ideas that will change the world.

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