WATCH: How pharma tech firm Indegene wants to reach $500M revenue in 5 years
While product companies like Zoho and Freshworks have often hogged the limelight as Indian ventures that have scaled successfully worldwide, there are several more waiting in the wings.
One such is Bengaluru-based Indegene, which works with 75 of the world’s largest pharma companies. It crunches numbers to prepare legally compliant clinical data, which helps pharma companies communicate comprehensive details of a specific drug to medical representatives and doctors.
In this conversation, Co-founder Manish Gupta talks about the company’s growth, future plans, and more.
There is an element of machine learning in the mix too: Indegene uses algorithms to sieve through thousands of documents and helps new drugs meet compliance requirements. It also uses machine learning to help with customer experience and campaign management.
"Think about it: the doctor and the pharma company are selling you content when they explain the ailment and the drug, which is where we come in," says Manish Gupta, Co-founder of Indegene.
Founded in 1999 by Rajesh Nair, Sanjay Parikh, Anand Kiran, Gaurav Kapoor, and Manish Gupta, all the founders are still actively involved in running the business. What is even more interesting is that this company has not raised any money from venture capitalists.
It started as a marketing company for pharmaceutical drugs, eventually becoming an organisation creating content that pharma majors need for their trials. Today, using machine learning, Indegene enables drives data-driven customer experiences, omnichannel campaign effectiveness, and operational efficiency. Through its multichannel maturity framework, it also helps pharma companies optimise operations and offer intelligent customer engagement.
At one end of the maturity spectrum, it partners with life science companies to establish and manage enterprise-level centres of excellence for content creation, production, and localisation for management of campaign operations, as well as for data and analytics. On the other end, it manages content to train sales reps and doctors.
"We help young drug discovery companies plan their go-to-market (strategies), right from compliance and governance to clinical trials, to enable them to market the drug," says Manish.
The company works on a full-time equivalent (FTE) model plus per transaction-based pricing for its AI-enabled modules. It has more than 2,200 employees globally and the majority of its business comes from the US, followed by Europe and China.
Scale-up with big plans
Indegene raised two undisclosed rounds: from KITVEN in 2002, and from N S Raghavan, Infosys founding member, in 2005. After that its been pure growth.
Business began scaling up in 2010. Indegene made one small acquisition in 2005, but ramped that up after 2012, making five acquisitions in all. Most of these have been aimed at shoring up its marketing and consulting capabilities.
“We are setting big targets because today, most drugs are going off-patent and a lot of companies manufacturing off-patent drugs want content on these drugs for marketing," says Manish.
It's interesting how Indegene has survived the competition - and the competition is big with the likes of multi-billion-dollar heavyweights Accenture and Cognizant in the same space.
So how did Indegene not only survive for 20 years but grow organically with very little raised from VCs?
Pharma has traditionally been very focused on using a representative-led model, typically building channels and only slowly moving into digital data.
"But based on the pressures we've seen from a pricing point of view, from consumerism, and the way consumers are reacting, we think that pharma will have to reinvent itself," says Manish.
The cost of sales for pharmaceutical companies is extremely high: between 28 and 30 percent of the drug in a traditional rep-based model. "It's very difficult for a large pharma company to reach out to 100,000 doctors or more using this model. It's unsustainable," adds Manish.
So it has to be AI, and in-house
Enter Indegene’s digitally led, AI-powered platform. This uses an omnichannel ecosystem that can help pharma companies to commercialise offerings more effectively by using advanced analytics for customer segmentation, targeting, and then building sequencing and predictive analytics to drive certain cohorts for prescription.
In fact, Google, Indegene, and Microsoft recently partnered with Pfizer to discuss how AI is transforming clinical and commercial operations in life sciences. The four companies covered a number of AI use cases for real world data (RWD) in commercial and patient empowerment, and for the optimisation of clinical trial operations.
Discussions also focused on present and future advances in the patient journey, including examples of preventive medicine that will shape the future of medicine.
Indegene's AI use case focussed on the R&D, clinical, and medical business side of life sciences, exploring how AI can help biopharma companies reuse content by auto-creating and updating drug documentation.
The AI use case further highlighted the incubation initiative with Pfizer to create an integrated content model of interrelated clinical, regulatory, safety and medical documentation, leveraging Indegene's Intelligent Content Platform to systematically and holistically determine content or documents that could be auto-generated as well as content that could be meaningfully reused.
Manish is clear that they do not plan to go public.
"We want to remain private and work on projects looking for transformation," Manish says. Right now, the company is betting big on AI to get to $500 million in revenue. If all goes according to plan, Indegene could well become a unicorn in the coming years.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)