How rapid production of COVID testing kits helped this startup clock Rs 150 Cr in revenue in FY21

Started by Ritu Gupta and Neeraj Gupta, Gurugram-based Genes2Me offers genetic testing for preventive and diagnostic health, and has been actively supplying COVID-19 test kits across India so far.
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What’s in the genes? Well, all the telltales about one’s health concerns, including deeper insights into diagnosing various symptoms and hacking predisposition to various diseases and risk, according to Neeraj Gupta and Ritu Gupta, co-founders of Genes2Me

Ritu had been in the business of healthcare industry for over a decade as a board of director at Imperial Life Sciences, which provides technical solutions to life sciences researchers. As the co-founder and COO, Ritu is responsible for overall operations, including people management, digital marketing, and finance.

Founded in 2016, the Gurugram-based startup claims to be a leading molecular diagnostic company and is one of the largest manufacturers of in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) kits in India.

Neeraj notes that both diagnostics and preventive healthcare in India are heavily reliant on blood tests to determine any underlying health condition, while the international markets enjoy a faster and more efficient diagnosis by testing genetics.

The couple hopes to bridge this gap with a vision to “transform genetics for billions” in a cost-effective manner.

How does Genes2Me work?

A registered DPIIT startup, Genes2Me runs genetics tests in four segments, including personalised DNA Genetic Testing, mother and child, oncology, and genetic diagnostic.

The personalised DNA Genetic Testing, launched in April 2020, offers the person’s genetic blueprint and analyses potential diseases and disorders as well as lifestyle changes for the individual. Ritu who is also overseeing this latest vertical, believes it can make a huge difference in preventive healthcare in the country.

As the mother and childcare and oncology services are offered based on prescription, the startup has formed B2B partnerships with gynecologists, fetal medicine doctors, and children's hospitals across the country.

It has also established a pan India presence with teams of sample collection centres reaching customers directly for other prevention healthcare tests. All samples from their team members and partner hospitals are then tested at the startup’s NABL accredited Diagnostic Lab in Gurugram.

Operating on a B2G model, Genes2Me has partnered with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for several national screening programmes.

Fighting COVID-19

Besides the fact that genetics provide great insights into understanding COVID-19 virus and how it affects various patient groups differently, the startup has been a key manufacturer of COVID-19 test kits in this on-going fight against the pandemic. So far, it claims to have manufactured 40 million kits for India, contributing to 20 percent of the entire testing conducted so far.

With CIV European certification, it has also exported to countries like Spain and Italy before export restrictions were imposed.

“Our team has worked days and nights when there weren’t many companies who could stand up to provide such volumes of testing facility. They worked in the lab providing as much as five lakh kits per day amidst the volcanic second wave in our country,” he says, adding that his team of 85 people have been the frontline workers behind the scene.

Ahead of the third wave of COVID-19, the startup has submitted a rapid RT-PCR testing kit to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and once approved, the duo says it will make COVID-19 testing even more efficient.

The necessity also boosted its revenue by a wide margin, clocking a revenue of Rs 150 crore in FY21, up from Rs 6.5 crore in FY20.

In her long stint in the healthcare industry, Ritu says the focus has always been the work and she never once experienced gender bias.

“It may exist in other sectors, but fortunately, this has never been a challenge for me in the healthcare industry. In fact, we have a gender ratio of 60:40, which is not a conscious effort because gender is not a benchmark when hiring,” she adds.

Neeraj Gupta and Ritu Gupta, Co-founders of Genes2Me

Challenges and the market

For the entrepreneur couple, the initial challenge in starting a genetic-based healthcare company was that they were facing a nearly non-existent market in India with little to no competition. Even today, with direct competitors like Mapmygenome for its personalised genetic tests, the startup claims to offer a more cost-effective service for a lesser price.

However, the biggest roadblock has been tapping consumers in the market and familiarising them with such services. Although adoption rates from medical practitioners to avail genetic insights have improved, “awareness among users for preventive health genetic screening is relatively low even today,” he notes.

Popularity for genetic testing is only growing with the market value of Rs 400-Rs 500 crore in India today, according to a report by Market Research Future (MRFR).

In the coming years, Neeraj hopes the market awareness reaches the level of consumers in countries like the US where one in every two or three people have done genetic testing.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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