I was born in a village in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Deoria District to and grew up in Arunachal Pradesh. I was an average student from a government school and a fast learner. I had a lot of inclination towards sports, it made me mentally strong and confident. While doing my graduation in pharmaceutical sciences from Odisha, I was transformed into a better human being and my certain traits like having leadership and problem solving skills were recognized by my professors and friends. I completed by MBA from Pune in General management. Later I shifted to Bangalore where I got inclined towards startups and got introduced to few incredible people as friends, mentors, guide, superiors and it all transformed me into whatever I am today. I always had a desire to do something new and challenging which can impact many lives and this gave a birth to “Fibroheal – Silk protein derived wound management solutions”. The purpose to start the venture was to solve a genuine problem of acute and chronic non healing wounds with a potential of economic multiplier.
2. How you started?
I was always inclined to do something for the farmers, who never get full credit of their efforts. Karnataka produces 60% of total silk production of India and definitely had a great potential. Although lot of lab related work happened on silk, but commercially it didn’t succeed as much. The thought to do something different always hovered my mind and while exploring those ideas, I was introduced by a leading cardiac surgeon of Indian Army to Mr. Bharat Tandon, Founder of Vet care which later on entered into a JV with Dutch based animal health company called Provimi and was later on acquired globally by Cargill. He was having keen interest in silk and its byproducts. We together dug deep into various possibilities with silk in the area of wound healing which led to our new startup called Fibroheal Wound care Pvt Ltd. We further wanted to strengthen our direction and knowhow of the wound management market. We got in touch with Mr. S Subramanian who built (Formerly Sutures India Pvt Ltd) now Healthium Medtech, the 2nd largest suture manufacturing company with worldwide sales, In April 2018, it was acquired globally by Apax Partners for 2600 Cr. However, it took a bit long, but eventually he agreed and brought a great understanding of hospital business, commercialization and advanced wound management market. He agreed to come on board as co-promoter. Once we were able to have a focused and stable management team, we took steps forward to scale up to next level. It has been an enterprising journey and everyday happens to be a new learning.
Our Silk protein concept for wound healing was supported by the Dept. of Biotechnology, Govt of India, Dept. of IT, BT & ST, Govt of Karnataka, BIRAC and CCAMP (Centre for cellular and molecular platforms). The initial acceptance by surgeons and the entire continuum of medical fraternity is very promising and it further bolsters our belief that we are on the right path and silk is the next gen novel biomaterial with immense potential and a lifetime can be easily committed to work on different applications of silk. We are confident that we will be able to scale up Fibroheal to a greater heights and will be a major player in the wound management market.
3. Are you happy and what would you change?
Yes, I am happy so far with the progress, but as an entrepreneur, you tend to be a bit harsh on yourself regarding your timelines and goal posts and a feeling remains inside, I wish I could have done more. We completed 3 years in April 2020. Given a choice to redo the things, I would try to set up the same management team which we have in a much shorter span and move quickly on product developments, market capture and scale up. Since it’s a unique concept product “Silk protein derived wound management solutions”, it requires time before people see the results. We aspire to be the most comprehensive Indian wound management company with global footprint and addressing real issues with our research and developments.
4. What are the mistakes you feel you could have avoided?
Well, doubting your ideas during turbulent phases and revisiting your decisions are something which wastes a lot of time and energy. Few wrong hires, non-committed people, factoring in certain timelines while dealing with different external stakeholders who do not operate with similar pace makes you unsatisfied sometimes. One has to accept it and move on accordingly. Becoming emotional about certain decisions or ideas can be detrimental to your peace, decision making ability and your venture. Overall, to build a startup, I feel, passion is the main key and letting go of few things and situations should not be allowed to occupy space in your head is the key.
I realized that the fund crunch, regulatory approvals or sales and business developments which you initially worry about hampers the company’s growth, but the people, their commitment, their egos and their openness to take it as a challenge and building up a company is what counts.
5. How did you know you had the right idea?
Well, when you are committed to something right and big which you truly care about from your heart, you don’t have to think anything, it will find a way on its own and will keep guiding you. You will be able to move mountains unknowingly. Your gut feel gives you subtle vibes and keeps creating a situation which will be highly challenging but will not let you leave it mid-way if you truly care about the idea. I often mention this statement . “An idea or a decision is just a mere idea or decision, you have to prove it worth and right”. I am sharing based on my experience with Fibroheal.
6. How did you handle doubts and adversity?
There is no hard and fast rule to this and neither I will say, I never get doubts or face adversities. Whenever that happens, I always prefer going back to square one and think on these lines, why did I start Fibroheal? What I want to do in life through Fibroheal? What is my end goal? Why did I pursue it so long if I had to give up? After answering these questions, all my doubts and adversities look small or fade away as the vision and goal is much bigger than doubts and adversities. The Most important thing is to keep calm and keep revisiting the purpose, it will give you the demeanor to succeed and keep flying. Not giving up is the key and the road of entrepreneurship is never clear. You have to take that step immediately whatever is visible with the light of flame, next step will fall in place its own. But, if you are focused and ready to hustle and not give up, you will succeed at the end.
7. How do you plan on growing your business?
We plan to have a strong base and whose foundation we have laid. Most important aspect is the focus and ability of the team to get the work done. Any startup which succeeds has one thing in common “A strong and stable management team which cares about people who are aggressive, focused and committed to the idea or business”. We intend catering to 500 major Hospitals across the country treating different types of non-healing, slow healing and difficult to heal acute and chronic wounds. We also fit very well with the vision of our PM “Vocal about Local” and “Make in India”.
So far, we have treated more than 10K patients across the country for different types of wounds.As a concept, we are supported by the Dept. of Biotechnology, Govt of India, Dept. of IT, BT & ST, Govt of Karnataka, BIRAC and CCAMP (Centre for cellular and molecular platforms).
8. How did you build your team?
Well, this is something which has no direct answer, I feel I am lucky to have a strong committed team in place and it was built purely based on past experiences as human beings and we give a lot of importance to human qualities rather than skills. Skills can be taught and acquired, but not the human qualities like taking initiatives, solving a problem without cribbing about it, go getter approach etc.
Another important aspect is to be inclusive, transparent, give them growth opportunity, responsibility, and moreover what I have learnt over period of time from my mentors, “Don’t push someone against the wall when they are down or struggling, try to uplift them and if not uplifting, then keep quiet and offer silent help and solution”; It goes a long way. Transparency is the key and treating people with respect and honesty is very important. We should not forget, we are dealing with people who have emotions and they are not just resources.
9. How can I be a good leader?
As a leader, you should be passionate, confident, inspiring, honest, be an open and transparent communicator, problem solver and should empower people who are working with you. You need to face challenges yet be brave and prudent while maintaining a positive approach. If we all respect and value people who are working with us, maintain honest communication in external and internal relationships, and if you have a vision and purpose, you can be a leader.
10. How do you unwind yourself?
Well, unwinding is the key and it helps you to recharge yourself to be a better decision maker and take the next plunge. In my case, I take out some personal time, talk to my family and friends, and also do meditation and just try to be joyful and ecstatic. I also like reading about old mythology books, engaging myself in sports like cricket, volleyball or catching up with friends, old colleagues or trying to help some people through a few NGOs with whom I am associated with. Overall, my experience is that your morning is key as soon you get up, always be joyous and happy in the morning and the whole day will be wonderful.
Also, keep recharging yourself with new information by reading various stuff or learning something new for fun and it will help you to recharge yourself in the most optimal way while being informative.