Meet 5 entrepreneurs who set up multi-crore businesses in India’s growing healthcare sector
With rising income levels, greater awareness about health, increased precedence of lifestyle diseases, and improved access to insurance, India’s healthcare sector is a sea of opportunity for entrepreneurs. Here’s how these five ambitious entrepreneurs tapped into this space and made it big.
Healthcare encompasses prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, illness, injury, and more. The healthcare sector in India is projected to reach Rs 19,56,920 crore ($280 billion) by 2020, according to India Brand Equity Foundation data.
Some key contributors to growth are rising income levels, greater awareness about health, increased precedence of lifestyle diseases and improved access to insurance.
A famous example of healthcare entrepreneurship in India is when heart surgeon Devi Shetty turned entrepreneur in 2000 and set up Narayana Health (previously known as Narayana Hrudyalaya).
Shetty’s impact on cardiac healthcare in India was so great that the Narayana model is being studied in business courses in universities across the world, including Harvard Business School.
But Shetty and Narayana were just one among many healthcare entrepreneurs and businesses in India with successful business models.
Here are five multi-crore healthcare companies from various fields that have made a big difference to the sector:
An incident at a hospital set a young Suresh Vazirani on an unexpected path to becoming a healthcare entrepreneur when Navnirman Andolan's Bihar leader Jayaprakash Narayan suffered kidney failure, and was admitted to a hospital.
Suresh tells SMBStory:
"At the hospital, the imported dialysis machine broke down and the service engineer was unavailable. Since I was a graduate in electrical engineering, I worked on the machine and made it functional at the right moment."
This incident made him think of the lives lost each day due to a lack of technical service for medical devices. He felt the creation of an affordable and easily-accessible medical technology provider was the need of the hour.
This inspired him to start Transasia BioMedicals in Mumbai in 1979. Suresh says he started In Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) company Transasia with Rs 250 from his own pocket and Rs 1 lakh which he borrowed from a friend.
Over the years, Transasia has grown into a Rs 1,000 crore company that offers products and solutions in biochemistry, hematology, coagulation, ESR, immunology, urinalysis, critical care, diabetes management, microbiology, and molecular diagnostics.
Started by serial entrepreneur Amarinder Singh in Delhi in 2011, Clove Dental is a private, oral healthcare organisation that opens and runs dental clinics in urban neighbourhoods.
It all started when Amarinder was visiting a dental clinic with his wife. "
I was at the clinic for a tooth filling, and everything was going fine till I had to rinse and spit. That's when I saw the drain was dirty and unhygienic," he tells SMBStory.
This inspired him to look into opportunities in dental care, and he found one to set up local dental clinics that were high tech, accessible, convenient, and hygienic for middle class residents of cities and towns.
To back the ambitious idea, Amarinder raised an initial amount of $1 million (around Rs 7 crore) through personal investment, friends, family, and a few American investors.
The Rs 124 crore revenue Clove Dental has now become one of India's largest network of dental clinics. Today, it has over 330 clinics across major cities and towns in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi-NCR, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana.
Aishwarya Healthcare, a pharmaceutical company based out of Baddi, Himachal Pradesh, is one of the top three manufacturers of IVF. It exports around 15 million-20 million units to more than 30 countries, including ones in Africa, Europe, and Asia.
The company was founded by Neeraj Kumar Nir, a former employee of Coal India, in 2006, who teamed up with his wife, Gunjita Nir, for the venture.
“I always had an entrepreneurial approach towards life and wanted to work on something that could generate employment for the people. My relatives were already in the pharma industry and, gradually, I also stepped in.”
Aishwarya Healthcare was started with a Rs 24-crore bank loan. It now records an annual turnover of Rs 310 crore. The company employs 2,000 people directly.
“Aishwarya Healthcare was started with a dream to make quality healthcare products in-house for the masses. I saw in the intravenous industry a huge opportunity for quality manufacturing with state-of-the-art-technology,” Neeraj says.
Before Devi Shetty launched Narayana, there was a company that was excelling in manufacturing life-saving healthcare devices. Sahajanand Medical Technologies (SMT), founded by Dhirajlal Kotadia in 1997, was India’s first manufacturer of affordable cardiovascular medical stents that matched global standards.
In the early nineties, Dhirajlal noticed that heart diseases were prevalent in India and that treatment was limited to a small portion of the population due to high costs. This led Dhirajlal to wonder if he could manufacture stents locally and make them affordable.
Knowing that cheaper stents would greatly reduce the cost of heart surgery, Dhirajlal worked with his team of engineers and scientists to develop and manufacture the first Made in India stent.
SMT achieved a product-market fit early on. Over the years, SMT leveraged this strength to grow and became India’s largest manufacturer of stents. It also exports to over 60 countries.
The Rs 300-crore turnover, Mumbai-based company also emerged as a pioneer in biodegradable polymer and ultra-thin strut technologies used to manufacture coronary drug-eluting stents (DES).
Dr. Phadke Labs was originally started by Achyut Phadke in 1963. It began in Mumbai as the first andrology centre - a medical branch dealing with male fertility.
However, with the proliferation of illegal pathology labs, there was a need to set up doctor-led diagnostic centres in the city for proper testing and healthcare services.
Thus, his son, Avinash, and his wife, Vandana Phadke, started several pathology tests and services, leading to the establishment of Dr. Avinash Phadke Pathology Labs in 1980.
“We offer up to 3,000 different tests to patients, performing more than 30,000 tests a day, with a team of 700 employees, including over 30 MD pathologists. We also have an annual co-branding partnership with SRL Diagnostics,” Avinash says.
The business’ standalone annual turnover is approximately Rs 120 crore, and caters to 10,000 patients per day through 26 laboratories set up across Mumbai, it claims.