How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
After completing my Mechanical Engineering Diploma in 1990, I worked for 13 years with Engineering and Automotive companies like L&T, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat Automotive and Tata AutoComp. I gained experience in various aspects of supply chain management, import-exports, global sourcing and international taxation laws.
I was obsessed with a passion for being an entrepreneur after reading the book, “Rich Dad Poor Dad.”
To start something on my own, I started with a Medicine Shoppe International’s franchise store in Pune (India) in 2001 as I had insufficient capital.
My knowledge of medicine and supply chain management and more than 13 years’ professional experience in Techno commercial facets of business and International taxation exposure helped me establish a Pharmaceutical Export house in 2003 with the first breakthrough coming from exports to Fiji.
As the operation grew, we found the Indian laws restrictive for the growth of the business and decided to set up operations in UAE and Mauritius for global trading of pharmaceuticals in 2006-07.
As the business expanded, we acquired two pharmaceutical manufacturing companies in 2010/11 in India and set up marketing offices in six countries around the world employing more than 600 people.
How do you make money?
In generic pharmaceutical trading or any trading activity, the ability to make money on sales price is limited as you are competing with other trading companies with the same product being sold at more or less the same price level. As a result, the avenues of making money are on the supply side.
Sales factors to consider include:
How are supply chain efficiencies brought with the minimal & efficient handling of goods?
How are bulk buying discounts obtained?
How efficiently is the impact of indirect taxes managed?
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
The manufacturing business which is highly capital intensive with high upfront manpower commitment takes 4-5 years before it turns profitable. However, fortunately, we started with trading which is low overhead, high inventory turnover, and a fast payment cycle business which can be profitable within a few months. We were profitable within the first year of operation.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time that you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle it?
Extreme Optimism is one of the key ingredients of Entrepreneurship. I always maintain a very positive and optimist mindset in running a business or any project. One always has to think and believe that it will work.
I will recommend “The Secret,” by Rhonda Byrne which shares the philosophy I followed since my childhood (much before the book appeared on the market). The book is influenced by Wallace Wattles’ “The Science of Getting Rich,” which Byrne received from her daughter during a time of personal trauma in 2004.
Byrne re-introduces a pseudo-scientific notion popularized initially by persons such as Madame Blavatsky and Norman Vincent Peale, which suggests that thinking about certain things will make them appear in one’s life. Byrne provides alleged examples of historical persons who have achieved this. The three-step process to achieve this is to ask, believe, and receive.
How did you get your first customer?
In early 2000 when the Internet revolution started, we were amongst the first Medicine Shop to go online with an advertisement for our export services (and we had not exported anything when advertised). Our first breakthrough came from a customer responding to our classified ad on sify.com.
What is one marketing strategy that you’re using that works well to generate new business?
We have various marketing models for different business verticals. SAVAVET, our India centric veterinary prescription drugs business, focuses marketing activities on ethical promotions of brands with Indian veterinarians. Areas we focus on include scientific promotions, continuing Veterinarian Education promotions, and consultant roundtables.
Contract manufacturing businesses focus primarily on word of mouth and meetings with large marketing companies to understand their requirements.
In today’s flat world, the Internet has provided the ability to communicate with anyone with internet access. An online presence with social media activity is a critical part of any marketing strategy.
What is the toughest decision that you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Cost optimization including right-sizing teams to lower costs has been a part of the toughest decisions we’ve had to make to keep sustainable profit margins in business areas where profitability was not up to par.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
While we work with the motto of “Customer is King,” it is essential to have motivated leadership at every level in the organization. Only motivated team members can ensure customer satisfaction. Our motivated leaders have given shape to our successful business. Our business has been blessed with highly self-motivated individuals who make sure they serve and treat the customers well. Success is the endpoint. We are a growing organization, and only time will tell if we are successful in 10-20 years from now.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
When we started our international business, I had the dream of becoming the largest merchant exporter of pharmaceutical products. The dream was conceptualized in 2004 and realized in 2010 when the Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council awarded Sava Global as the “Best Merchant Exporter of India” for 2009-10. I am sure we will have many more satisfying moments in future.
What does the future hold for your business?
The future is always bright. We’d like to see ourselves in more of a leadership position in many areas. We are planning to expand every business vertically with more depth, and I am sure these plans will fructify within next 3-4 years.
What are you most excited about?
We are excited about the new production line we are setting up for respiratory products. We are also excited about the expansion of SAVAVET into Animal diagnostics and Prescription diet.
What business books have inspired you?
I am a fan of Sam Walton of Walmart and Jeff Bezos of Amazon. Their biographies have been quite inspiring.
What is a recent purchase that you have made that’s helped with your business?
Our recent Respiratory Product – Research Center expansion has helped us to grow our business in highly regulated markets of North America. I think those will be a significant growth driver in the future.
Leave us with one point that few individuals know about your company.
We are a young organization across many business verticals, but spend almost 10% of our revenues on new product developments and R&D activities, and I think that sets us apart from similarly sized companies.