Merit Medilinks Footwear: An Eminent Manufacturer of Research-Driven Orthopaedic and Diabetic Footwear
Most Trusted Brand of the Year 2023
Apart from adding a touch of elegance to our persona, footwear extends beyond just being a fashion statement. In our country, people often neglect the essentiality of customizing their footwear according to their current health conditions. When it comes to women, especially, they are prone to foot-related health problems because of a combination of biological, physiological, and lifestyle factors. Because of the absence of superior orthopaedic and diabetic footwear options, our people have to compromise their health conditions, which is certainly not the long-term solution to their suffering.
Because this industry requires extensive research to find the best quality materials, cost-efficiency, and ardent dedication towards customization, people don’t find trustworthy support and guidance. But today, this brand story will vanquish all these concerns and promise that no individual across the globe ever has to suffer from the pain associated with orthopaedic conditions and diabetic complications.
Prime Insights feels grateful to feature Merit Medilinks Footwear in the exclusive edition, “Most Trusted Brand of the Year 2023”, because not only is the brand addressing a significant concern, but it is also exhibiting an unflinching commitment to bring about a revolutionary change in the minds of people regarding the indispensability of customizable orthopaedic footwear.
But before beginning with the narrative, we would like to give our readers a brief introduction to the brand. Merit Medilinks Footwear offers innovative products that incorporate the latest footwear research to provide pain-free mobility while keeping cost-efficiency at its core. The brand closely collaborates with seasoned medical experts and doctors to bring the best to the table without compromising on quality and design.
Where Did It All Begin?
Mrs. Madhavi Dhondalkar, Founder and CEO at Merit Medilinks Footwear, broke the monotony of her life and chose to pursue car racing at the age of 45. Her pursuit of challenging the challenges didn’t stop there, and she won multiple national-level races. But things turned unfavourable for her as she suffered a heart problem and had to undergo surgery.
While at the hospital, she also realized the need for low-cost medical solutions for patients and had a strong urge to work in the medical field. So she started Merit Medilinks in January 2019 as a surgical supplies distributor, providing wholesale rates to patients at their doorstep. One of the niches the company supplied in 2019 was medical footwear. During a conversation with her husband, Mr. Dheeraj Dhondalkar, CoFounder and CTO, regarding medical footwear, the duo realized that people still don’t know about the essentiality of medical footwear and how it makes patients’ lives better.
Having a strong research-bent mind, Mr. Dheeraj Dhondalkar did extensive research on medical footwear by visiting several institutions, dealing with foot care and foot disease management professionals, and experimenting with various existing medical footwear. None of the brands strongly met international standards for patient foot care and weren’t authentic in the problem-solving dimension. Their extensive research, coupled with a commitment to providing genuine solutions to patients led the duo to set up their own manufacturing, and Merit Medilinks pivoted to footwear manufacturing in July 2021 with Mr. Dheeraj as the co-founder.
Surpassing the COVID-19 Pandemic
Soon after Merit Medilinks started its operations in 2021, particularly in the footwear category, the COVID pandemic caused industries to shut down. This obstructed the process of sourcing the required machinery and raw materials. Even the banks were not sanctioning loans because of the uncertainty the pandemic brought with itself to the business ecosystem.
By raising funds from near and dear ones, the founding duo continued working on their mission and succeeded in setting up the manufacturing unit. Getting a skilled workforce was the next hurdle. As medical footwear needs special materials and different manufacturing processes, regular footwear industry workers didn’t had the skills to manufacture medical footwear.
Also, Merit Medilinks was a new entrant; skilled workers didn’t have the faith to join the brand, compared to other established players. Furthermore, marketing was also a tough task. Since there is a low level of awareness about medical footwear in the market, it was difficult to explain the technology behind the products, and people were not very eager about the category. Even after keeping minimal margins, the cost went higher than other brands, and distributors weren’t willing to market the products of Merit Medilinks. These challenges, however, served as motivation rather than roadblocks, strengthening their commitment to their vision.
Nurturing the Lineage of Trust Since 2021
Mrs. Madhavi Dhondalkar says, “During the journey of building alliances of trust with our customers, many times we customized the footwear for patients free of charge until their issue was resolved. There were instances when customers walked in asking for an expensive product, but we resolved their issues with a low-cost product, giving them what was needed and not extravagant add-ons. We have provided service in the remotest corners of the country and even done it for free for patients who couldn’t afford it. With doctors, we have established trust through timely delivery and incorporating processes that make sure we don’t take up a lot of the doctors’ time. Overall, our subject matter expertise, consistent quality, service, and focus on the mission have helped us establish trust in the market.”
Understanding the Business Model
The pivotal feature of Merit Medilinks’s business model is to partner with doctors. With the medical expertise of doctors, the team at Merit Medilinks works as engineering partners to solve patient problems. Merit Medilinks has now opened numerous branded stores across various cities in partnership with well-known doctors across diverse regions. This approach has indeed helped the team create a strong brand identity and broader awareness about medical footwear.
Furthermore, another big differentiating factor is their keen focus on design and style. Usually medical footwear and style don’t go hand in hand. Patients avoid using medical footwear because of the stigma, especially ladies who have a strong desire to wear stylish footwear. Merit Medilinks’ innovative design makes them stand apart from their competition.
Continuing further, Mr. Dheeraj Dhondalkar elucidates, “The initial months of operations were strenuous, but with time, through consistent service, quality, and adherence to the mission, we have established ourselves as an organization that can be trusted. We are known in the industry as an organization that is genuinely focused on solving customers’ problems and not money-oriented. For us, profits come from the happiness and well-being of our customers.
At the end of the day, we have a sense of contentment about lighting up someone’s life. It is more profoundly fulfilling than the feeling of overflowing pockets. Moreover, the depth of our research establishes us as an authority in the field of medical footwear. Doctors are genuinely interested in discussing it with us since it is always a mutual learning experience. They acknowledge the depth of our understanding of the subject matter. We have solved some very complicated cases of patients.”
A Memoir of Inspiring Words
As we approached the end of the conversation, we asked the dignitary duo to share a few words of intellect for our global readership panel and enlighten their minds with their valuable life lessons. Here is what they quoted:
“If you are building a business that will survive the long haul, build it around genuinely solving customers’ problems. In our case, the inspiration to curate footwear solutions that solve patients’ problems and provide pain-free mobility at an affordable cost was churned out of personal experiences.
I would like to quote a famous line from the movie 3 Idiots,
“Run behind excellence and success will follow”.
By focusing on excellence and customer satisfaction, you can create a sustainable organization that thrives in an ever-changing market.
Then focus on your goal and be courageous. Whatever business you venture into, Challenges will come your way, but with determination, unwavering focus, and a calm mind, you’ll always find solutions that lead to success.”