The rags-to-riches story of Arokiaswamy Velumani, the founder of diagnostics chain Thyrocare, is well-known and a motivation for aspiring entrepreneurs. He was born in a poor family in a village on the outskirts of Coimbatore. His mother funded his education from whatever little she earned from her two buffalos. He graduated in science and after years of struggle got a job at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai. He worked there for 15 years before starting his own business, painfully building up a diagnostics chain with a one lakh square feet central laboratory in Navi Mumbai. He lived in a small portion of the lab and recruited mostly freshers whom he wanted to help considering his own early struggles. The 62-year-old hogged headlines recently when he sold his pan-India diagnostics chain, Thyrocare, to PharmEasy, a six-year-old e-pharmacy, for ₹4,546 crore.
The deal put PharmEasy’s media face, founder and chief executive officer Siddharth Shah — a 32-year-old computer engineer and IIM-Ahmedabad graduate who comes from a rich family in Mumbai and is fond of cars — into the limelight as a new-age business celebrity. It is, after all, going to be the first-ever acquisition of a listed company by a startup. PharmEasy, which became India’s largest e-pharmacy after the acquisition of its rival, Medlife, has been the first Indian e-pharmacy start-up to enter the unicorn club. The Thyrocare deal, backed by many leading private equity entities, has doubled its valuation to over ₹30,000 crore ($4 billion).
The deal is being celebrated as another story of a new-age business whizkid mentored to success by experienced private equity masters. However, probe a little, and the story turns out to be different. Siddharth, despite his privileged background, exemplifies the struggles new-age entrepreneurs go through to script success.
Unlike most rich kids who work for global financial firms to gain experience for running their family business, Siddharth never tried to get a job. The parents of this three-time national go-karting champion in his school days were liberal enough to allow him to choose what he wanted to do in life. His first ambition was to become a race-car driver. His mother used to take him for races from city to city despite having a busy schedule. He studied computer engineering in college and at 21 got into IIM-Ahmedabad. As part of management studies, all students had to develop a business plan. Usually, everyone submits the project, gets marks and tries for campus placement. “My professor Anil Gupta told me ‘instead of a project plan, why don’t you float a company and show how to run it?’ I went on to register a company, DialHealth, a concept for India’s first online pharmacy. That is how the story began,” says Shah. After a two-month mandatory internship with Goldman Sachs, he opted out of the placement process and decided to start his own business. “My mindset was never fit for a job. I thought if I get a fat job, my mind may get used to its pleasures and comforts. I did not want that to happen,” he says.
The biggest challenge for new entrepreneurs those days was mindset of parents and society, he says. “Nowadays, a lot of youngsters can tell their parents they want to start own business. The concept of start-ups was not cool in 2011-12,” he says. But his parents supported his plans. The first company, DialHealth, was a simple concept like the already successful JustDial. He launched it with Hardik Dedhia, a childhood friend and a Carnegie Mellon graduate. Four months later, another friend and a Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies alumnus, Harsh Parekh, joined as partner. They floated a website, dialhealth.com, with a simple dial-in number (4000 5000) for information, consultation with doctors and getting connected to a nearby pharmacy for medicines. Within months, customers flooded the portal.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
‘THE CLOCK IS ALWAYS SLOW; IT IS LATER THAN YOU THINK'
ANUJ PODDAR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BAJAJ ELECTRICALS
THE WELLNESS JAUNT
EARLIER THE NICHE OF FOREIGNERS, WELLNESS TOURISM IS GATHERING PACE AMONG INDIANS WHO ARE TURNING TO AYURVEDA, YOGA AND NATUROPATHY FOR HOLISTIC HEALTH.
Reading to Lead
STOPPED IN ITS TRACKS
THE INDIAN RAILWAYS’ PLAN FOR PRIVATE PASSENGER TRAINS GARNERED ONLY TWO BIDS, THWARTING ITS PLANS TO SHORE UP ITS FINANCES. WHAT WENT WRONG AND WHAT IS THE WAY AHEAD?
NJ GROUP FORAYS INTO RULE-BASED INVESTING
Not content with just being India’s largest mutual fund distribution firm, NJ Group is now venturing into the asset management business with a novel mutual fund built on rule-based investing. Although there are many bank-sponsored mutual fund houses, this is probably the first instance of a pure distribution house launching its own mutual fund house.
BELLING THE BULL
INVESTING IN HIGH-RISK STOCKS FOR QUICK GAINS DURING A BULL RUN MAY WORSEN YOUR FINANCIAL HEALTH. HERE'S A GUIDE TO INVESTING IN A BULL MARKET.
HARSH TRUTHS, HARD JOURNEY
Harsh Mariwala and Ram Charan trace Marico's rise from relative obscurity to a company taking on multinational Goliaths, and winning.
Netflix's India Push
The global entertainment major has completed five interesting years in India, focussed on its premium positioning. What lies ahead?
'WHEN YOU HAVE THE BEST CONTENT, YOU CAN GROW A LOT'
OVER THE PAST two decades, Founder and Co-CEO Reed Hastings has shaped Netflix from being a DVD rental service to a $270-billion market cap entertainment powerhouse, in the process of transforming how the world consumes video entertainment.
The Shape Of Things To Come
The digital revolution will give indian stock indices their own new-age powerhouses
The Cosmic Chaos of India
Just like the cosmos, when you see India for the first time everything seems chaotic and yet every Indian person finds his/ her own order in that hustle which all goes in tandem. Pavan Rajurkar a freelance illustrator based out of Mumbai, capture this Indianness perfectly in his artworks for many different brands and studios. Some of his recent illustrations have been displayed here.
Doctor of Happiness: An Art Essay
SUKRITI VADHERA KOHLI is the founder of Doctor of Happiness, helping young people with depression and other mental conditions through her art and online platform. Here she speaks with VANESSA PATEL about what inspired her to open up this forum, and what a difference art can make to our well-being.
Meet with clients amid the city’s kaleidoscopic sights and sounds.
Discover The Remnants Of Empires And The Seeds Of Independence In Mumbai
Discover the remnants of empires and the seeds of independence in India’s most populous city.
Building A Sporting Nation
Marathons are changing the shape of the nation. We ask the brains behind the Delhi and Mumbai Half Marathons, how exactly.
An Expat Learns the Key to Authentic Indian Cooking
Cooking lessons at home in Mumbai.
The 12 Best Rooftop Bars Around The World
The world looks different when viewed from these stunning rooftop destinations.
The Return Of Wanderlust
A year of stay-at-home lockdowns and some still on, travelling responsibly, albeit for reflection, fun, or just because you want to, has led to a rising trend of revenge tourism
Craft Beer Boom
The onset of microbreweries has changed the way India sips its favourite summer drink
अश्लील फिल्मों से जुड़े मामले में राज कुंद्रा व सहयोगी को मिली जमानत
अश्लील फिल्मों से जुड़े मामले में दो महीने पहले गिरफ्तार व्यवसायी राज कुंद्रा को यहां की एक मजिस्ट्रेट अदालत ने सोमवार को जमानत दे दी।