WATCH: How BPL Medical Technologies is tapping innovation and partnerships to become a Rs 1,000 Cr company by 2022
In 1967, TPG Nambiar founded BPL Medical Technologies in Kerala in a bid to show the world that India could manufacture its own ECG and medical tech products. However, this did not work and its eventual popularity came from its parent company BPL's white goods, mostly TVs and other household electronics.
BPL Medical Technologies, still owned by the Nambiar family, was stagnating at Rs 60 crore. In fact, in 2013, it even dipped into the red.
In the same year, the company appointed a new CEO, Sunil Khurana, after which Goldman Sachs picked up a 49 percent stake in the company.
And, suddenly, things changed. Since then, the company has seen almost 5x growth in revenue - Rs 350 crore in FY 2019 - and is now profitable.
In a conversation with YourStory, Sunil Khurana, CEO of BPL Medical Technologies, speaks about the company’s journey and what the future holds.
The healthcare opportunity in India
While most family business people would have sold the business after seeing red, BPL rallied on, after seeing the booming healthcare opportunity in India. When Goldman Sachs invested $60 million for a majority stake in the company in 2013, the BPL family too invested an undisclosed amount to revive the business.
"As soon as I came in, I streamlined the product strategy, focusing on multiple products in critical care, cardiology, imagery, and home care," says Sunil Khurana, CEO of BPL Medical Technologies.
He adds that a focus on connected medical devices and smaller towns became a major driver of business. But first, he had to set the house in order. Sunil began meeting with distributors to ensure that they stayed with the brand.
"From our investors, I realised that we had a great brand story and our factory was strong. I met all 97 distributors and told them about our vision. They all stuck by us and we now have more than 150 distributors who cover two to three districts in India, and have reached close 160,000 medical centres," he says.
To cement its focus on medical devices, BPL Medical Technologies in 2015 acquired UK- based Penlon Systems, which makes anaesthesia machines and vaporisers.
In the last two years, the company has partnered with several global players to spruce up its medical devices. These include German-based Lowenstein, which builds ICU ventilators; Japanese company Atom Medical Corporation to sell infant care systems; and South Korea-based Alpinion Medical Systems for ultrasound.
These partnerships helped the company get a foothold in the critical care segment. Today, critical care and imaging (X-rays) forms 55 percent of the company's revenue. However, BPL Medical Technologies is betting on home care, which is still just five percent of its business.
"Home care will grow as there is a growing ageing population in India. Current statistics say that 90 million people have crossed 60 years of age; this is where home care is important,” Sunil says.
The company continues to be big in cardiology and manufactures close to 10,000 units of ECG machines per year. This division alone contributes to 40 percent of its revenue.
Market view and future
The central government is pushing Ayushman Bharat and wants to cover 500 million under-insured citizens with Rs 5 lakh as insurance coverage for people in remote areas. For BPL Medical Technologies, this means inclusive healthcare because people in rural areas have to go to district headquarters for treatment.
The company believes that district-level medical entrepreneurs will create inclusive healthcare, buy healthcare equipment, and increase the reach and affordability of care.
"We have a tremendous opportunity to grow. With the growth in digital, new business models will emerge and the country will have several hospitals, especially since the government wants to set up a robust healthcare infrastructure," Sunil says.
The CEO claims that BPL Medical Technologies is well on its way to becoming a Rs 1,000 crore company by 2022. Over the next 18 months, it will focus on selling ventilators. The company will also work with its 42-member R&D team to make its devices connected and bring affordable products to Indians.
According to PWC, the global medical technology market will be worth $495 billion in the next three years. India's market size is $9.5 billion, 75 percent of which is imported.
BPL Medical Technologies wants to increase its presence in India as a ‘local for global’ company. Its imports currently stand at Rs 10 crore and it wants to increase this at least five-fold in the next five years.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)