Top Entrepreneurs at Sociopreneurship India 2010 - Dr. Shyam Vasudev and Mr. K. Chandrasekhar, Founders, Forus Health Pvt. Ltd.
In our nation the doctor to patient ratio is 1:1720, which basically means that those who cannot afford quality healthcare have to do without it... This is a fact that Dr. Shyam Vasudev and Mr. K. Chandrasekhar were keenly aware of. The incredible dearth and need for Healthcare in India inspired the duo to create Forus Health.Forus Health is a business idea dedicated to democratizing healthcare by offering affordable and innovative solutions. Their belief that healthcare solutions for emerging countries have to be different both in terms of the development as well as deployment has driven their pioneering business model. With the development of innovative solutions focused on medical problems like avoidable blindness or diabetes and low cost medical devices Forus Health aims to make healthcare accessible to all.
Yourstory spoke to Mr. K. Chandrasekhar to learn more on his venture Forus Health and his co- founder Dr. Shyam Vasudev
1) Tell us about the innovative work that Forus Health is doing in the healthcare sector?
Myself & Dr. Shyam started Forus Health Pvt. Ltd., in January 2010. Forus as the name stands for is focused on providing innovative technology solutions FOR US (me and my community). Forus is focused on democratizing healthcare by offering affordable and innovative solutions that will touch the lives of the common man. Forus strongly believes that healthcare solutions for emerging countries have to be different both in terms of the development as well as deployment. The key differentiator would be the development of innovative solutions integrated with complete end to end deployment. At, Forus, the focus is on the problem like avoidable blindness or diabetes and not restricted to development of low cost medical devices.
Forus Health's mission is to
- Change the life of a common man by creating world class healthcare products
- Touch the lives of millions through innovative & affordable solutions
- Protect interests of all our stakeholders by building a sustainable business
Forus is currently working on 3nethra a pre-screening Ophthalmology device
2) Tell us more about the talented people behind ForusHealth?
About Dr. Shyam Vasudev:
Dr. Shyam holds a doctorate in Real Time Embedded Systems, specialising in Parallel Computer Architecture from Indian Institute of Science (gold Medal) & has been with CG Smith, Ericsson & Tata Consultancy Services and Philips. He was instrumental in devising one of the first of its kind hardware based antivirus solution in 90s.
At Tata Consulting Services as Product Manager, Dr. Shyam spearheaded their new product development initiatives, including the product development programs on Wireless Communications and Medical Electronics. He was involved in university relationships for joint research programs with IISc Bangalore & IIT Mumbai and Alborg University in Denmark to work on wireless technology and medical electronics.
During his stint at Ericsson, Dr. Shyam was responsible for building a technical team of 100+ engineers, involved in the execution of their product development activities at Bangalore. While at Ericsson, he was on a special assignment at their head office in Stockholm, as a Strategic Product Manager for over 2 years. This involved building revenues and profits, through innovative and creative business strategies and extensive customer-centric business analysis.
Working as a director of technology in Philips Innovation Campus Bangalore, he established the innovation framework for Consumer Electronics and Medical Systems division. He exponentially grew the patent portfolio of both the above divisions and established working relationships with best know academic institutions. Dr. Shyam's hobbies include listening to Hindustani classical music and Technical reading. He is married to Jyothi who is a sitarist. They have 2 sons, Vishnu and Vasudev.
Mr. K. Chandrasekhar:
Mr. K Chandrasekhar received his Masters of Science & Technology (BITS Pilani), completed his Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing and Global Manager Program (IIM Calcutta). Currently pursues his Doctorate in “Influence of Strategic Alliances on IP/Product Development in Indian High Technology Software & VLSI Companies”
Mr. Chandrasekhar started his career as a Transistor designer in 1988 and has successful track record of over 20 years in handling Business Development, Business Strategy, Operations Management, Partnership Management & Sales Management portfolios for major Semiconductor and Software Companies. Mr. Chandrasekhar has extensive experience in handling customers & partners in USA, Europe, Asia-Pacific & Middle East Markets.
Mr. Chandrasekhar has worked in several large organizations like NXP Semiconductors, Philips Innovation Campus and Alliance Semiconductors at senior positions. Mr. Chandrasekhar was Director – Asia Pacific (SW Strategy & Partnerships) of NXP Semiconductors before founding Forus Health.
Mr. Chandrasekhar is a “Certified Corporate Director” from the Institute of Directors. He is also a certified “Bullet Proof Manager” and “Certified Supplier Management Auditor”. He is an active member of the India Semiconductor Association and has contributed to several market research initiatives of the Association.
Chandrasekhar is married to Nithya who also is a professional and has a son 15 yrs and a daughter 10 yrs.
What inspired your business idea of a health care venture?
We (Dr. Shyam Vasudeva Rao- Director & President of Forus & K.Chandrasekhar) had the opportunity of meeting Dr. Aravind of the world famous Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai 5 years back. He gave us a presentation on the seriousness of blindness in India and how their hospital was using innovative methods to reach the poor. We were overwhelmed by the kind of service the hospital was doing and how it had built this great organization almost serving 2/3rd of its customers free.
We were fortunate to meet and discuss with Dr. V – a great man of Indian eye care industry. We were completely moved when we saw and experienced the plight of blind, poor rural Indians. We wanted to use our technology background to solve our countries health problems. This made us work on the idea of needless blindness prevention as the first step.
Our idea was validated by Dr. C.K.Prahalad views on serving the Bottom of the Pyramid market. We wanted to build a sustainable enterprise based on the insights we had. Dr. V always talked about building eye care delivery model like the McDonalds. We came up with the unique concept of PRE-SCREENING for healthcare
3) How will you be using technology to make health care more affordable?
Yes! Our entire focus will be to use technology for developing affordable products for emerging markets like India.
We will not only use technology for Product development for the rural market but will also use technology for deployment of these products to increase reach. In today’s world we find large multinational companies working on high end technology/innovation based products in the healthcare space. On the other side we have Philanthropists who work on a social cause. We find that the solutions of MNC are not affordable in rural India due to the high cost of service. On the other side of the spectrum, work of the Philanthropists are not scalable again limited by cost of service. We felt that there is a huge gap – We aim solve health care issues that affect the common man through technology innovations with a mind of a social enterprise. We as a company would develop technology solutions that are affordable and can change the lives of the common man.
Tell us more about how 3nethra in solving the problem of blindness.
Blindness is a very serious global problem and more so in emerging countries. The biggest irony is that 80% of blindness is needless. Biggest challenge faced by our Government and even big hospitals is that even with all our innovations today, they are able to screen only 7-10% of people at various stages of blindness even though their capacity to treat is higher. Current systems are reactive than proactive.
Current systems in eye care delivery requires expensive diagnostic devices for screening (especially true for eye care where one single device is used for one problem) coupled with availability of high skilled doctors (A total of 18000 ophthalmologists practice in India) in a rural environment. This increases cost of service substantially and hence limits scalability. Rural market remains grossly underserviced. This is further complicated by lack of awareness among our people resulting in people especially in rural India needlessly getting blind.
3nethra - A Single, portable, Intelligent, non-invasive, non-mydriatic eye pre-screening device, operated by a trained technician can help in bridging this gap by screening people and giving a “ Go – No GO” for 5 major eye issues (Cataract, glaucoma, Diabetic Retina, Refractive Index measurements and Cornea problems) .3nethra integrated with telemedicine & integrated with the eye care ecosystem can help in early detection and enable treatment at early stages of eye ailments thereby playing a significant role in identifying needless blindness.
5) What makes this product different from other products in the healthcare market?
In the current healthcare delivery system in emerging or even developed markets, the entire cycle of In-patients, Out-patients, rehabilitation & intensive care are all carried out in the hospitals. With the doctors to patient ratio being very low in the emerging markets, it is difficult to carry out the entire functions in the hospitals. Forus would be working on the innovative concept of moving the Out-patients & rehabilitation sections away from the hospitals, wherever feasible through development of Innovative technology. This will ensure that only “needy patients" need to see the doctors and the basic preventive healthcare can be provided by trained technicians. Forus strongly believes that by "Democratizing Wellness”, it can play an active role in the healthcare industry.
Pre-screening is a new concept conceived by us and a key differentiator. Almost all companies make diagnostic devices. Current solutions are aimed at improving efficiency of doctors who is already working at 90% efficiency. Our aim is to create products and solutions that funnel in needy patients to doctors and hence use his valuable time more effectively.
One of the key differentiator of Forus is that we are working on a problem & the products we develop are only a consequence. We never worked on the idea of developing a low cost fundus camera or a cornea camera. Our aim is to see how we can address needless blindness through technology. Our key differentiator will not only be development of products that help rural India but also apply deployment innovation to address the real problem of reach.
3nethra is an example of our uniqueness – there is no direct equivalent of this product in the market today all over the world. There is a value proposition for everyone in the entire eye care value chain: the rural Indian, doctors, eye hospitals, rural entrepreneurs, pharma companies, etc.
6) How is Forus funded? Do you plan to raise more funds?
Forus is angel funded. We are also raising the next level of funding from the market. Our distribution rights & product shipments will also start generating revenues.
7) What are your plans for 3nethra in the near future?
3nethra beta has been launched as of 31st Oct. Our first customer deployments have started. We will focus in the next six months on ramping up the production and working on the supply chain. We will also be focusing on building the eco-system around 3nethra
Yourstory wishes Dr. Shyam Vasudev and Mr. K. Chandrasekhar, many successes with Forus Health. We hope that their business idea of affordable healthcare takes off and benefits many fellow Indians. To learn more on Forus Health go to http://www.forushealth.com