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This husband-wife duo put their property and jewellery at stake to set up a dream venture

Aparajita Choudhury
25th Feb 2017
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More than a decade ago, Kshama Hiremath knew she wanted to build a diagnostic laboratory from scratch, but she had no idea how to get there. So she was patiently waiting in the wings for her entrepreneurial dream to kick off, even as she put in time as a lab in-charge, consultant biochemist, quality manager and professor through the years. Quite simply, what she lacked in business skills Kshama more than made up by experience to apply in her own venture.

In 2014, she finally took the plunge with Trident Diagnostics. Though Kshama was confident of handling the technical aspects of the venture, she needed someone with strong business sense to support the marketing and branding verticals. Luckily, she found that person in her husband, Kiran Dev, who had experience in initiating, handling and managing a startup. The 38-year-old is backed by 13 years of experience in the field of distribution and sales working in NDTV, The One Alliance and UB Spirits.

Kshama Hiremath and Kiran Dev
Kshama Hiremath and Kiran Dev

How Trident Diagnostics works

Strategically located in west Bengaluru, Trident Diagnostics is spread over 5,000sqft, and divided categorically into three floors. It also manages a round-the-clock laboratory at Sri Rama Multi Specialty Hospital and Trauma Centre in Sunkadakatte, and has tie-ups with leading insurance aggregators.

We operate a hub-and-spoke model for sample collection, and our collection centres are spread across the city, with many lab-to-lab tie-ups. We also provide home sample collection for our customers with a simple booking procedure over the phone. Trident offers healthcare packages that make preventive healthcare affordable for the whole family,” says Kshama. She holds a Master's degree in Medical Bio Chemistry from Kasturba Medical College, Manipal.

Trident offers diagnostic testing, cardiology and specialist consultations, specialisation in food intolerance and allergy testing, reporting and counselling. It has earned an ISO 9001:2015 certification and is aiming towards a National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accreditation in 2017. Trident Diagnostics has a slew of specialists—pathologists, radiologists, microbiologist and biochemist—on board, apart from the 25 speciality doctors in the team. It caters to more than 300 doctors in the West Bengaluru area and is aggregating samples from more than 120 labs and hospitals.

From a couple to co-founders

Before embarking on entrepreneurship, both Kshama and Kiran were doing well professionally in their respective fields. Therefore, the idea of starting up did not hold that much appeal to them or their families.

 “The first step was Kshama quitting her job and spearheading things, while I supported her in each step,” says Kiran, who has done MBA in Marketing at Manipal Institute of Technology, and BBA at K.L.E's College of Business Administration.

In true startup spirit, the couple pulled all stops to get funds for their venture—they sold a piece of land below market rate and mortgaged their jewellery to raise funding. But even that did not suffice, and Kshama liquidated her provident fund returns and the duo put all their savings.

While Trident Diagnostics was getting in shape with interiors, they managed to get a 24x7 hospital lab management at Sri Rama Multy Specialty Hospital. They used this facility to collect and run the samples from the main branch and release the reports. The main centre became operational in April 2015, and since then the average daily footfall grew from 484 to 4,204.

Revenue generation

Trident Diagnostics generates revenue from walk-in patients, referral patients, telemarketing, subscription module wellness packages, digital marketing, and by tying up with small, medium and larger labs for tests, with corporates for pre and post-employment testing, and by conducting health camps. The company generated a revenue of Rs 1.7 crore in December 2016.

Referral patients come from all kind of doctors (Trident has tied up with) like general practitioners,physicians,gynaecologist, cardiologist to doctors from oncology and nuerology. Trident Diagnostic designs, develops and customises different health and wellness packages regularly to create awareness and acquire new business through subscription or Point of Sale. They also create content for social media space to educate and create awareness about different packages, ailments and services.

Tying up with labs is a B2B business model, where in they aggregate samples from different labs and hospitals, pick up the various samples from these centres and run them in their lab and report back. Corporate tie-up involves yearly health check-ups for their employees. It has also tied with more than 60 insurance companies through insurance aggregator, they send their clients to Trident for health check-ups for their insurance coverage.

With 40 people in-house, Trident Diagnostics is located in West Bengaluru but operates remotely in the West, North, and in neighbouring districts Ramanagar, Tumkur and also in districts of Hassan, Hubli-Dharwad by aggregating samples from various labs and hospitals. Their immediate plans are to change the dynamics of how a diagnostic centre functions in Tier II and III cities of Karnataka.

The company envisages setting up a one-stop solution centre that would work as a referral lab in every district, under hub-and-spoke module, and which would independently function as a strategic business unit (SBU). Currently, most samples collected in Tier II and III cities come with a turnaround time of 24-48 hours, while the planned process, once executed, would drastically reduce the turnaround time to as little as three hours. In terms of revenue, the company aims to touch Rs 1.9 –2 crore in FY16-17, with a growth of 45 percent.

According to the Research and Markets, the diagnostic services market is expected to continue growing at 27.5 percent for the next five years. This growth is likely to be driven by improving healthcare facilities, medical diagnostic and pathological laboratories, private-public projects, and the health insurance sector.

“More than 90 percent of the lab/diagnostics industry is unorganised. Only a few national players, like Thyrocare, SRL, Dr Lalpath Labs and Metropolis are working in an organised manner covering most of the semi-urban and rural areas of India,” quips Kiran.

Website: Trident Diagnostoics

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