Sanjeev Saxena, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, POC Medical Systems
How much does team work contribute to the success of your company?
No one person can run a show. The team has to operate as one and only then can you achieve incredible things. It’s with the tireless efforts of our assay development scientist, chemists, microfluidics engineers, electrical engineers and the software team, we have been able to come up with a technology platform that can redefine how medical science is practiced. Our efforts are dedicated to all those who have believed in us and supported us, our investors, our well wishers and finally for the million of women around the globe in rural and urban settings alike, who had no fighting chance earlier but will have that through this ground breaking technology. Finally this is a testament to the great research which is happening in various government institutions worldwide on basic science. The discoveries taking place are like a diamond in the rough, waiting for someone to pick them up and polish and make them into a Kohinoor
Tell us about the importance of failures in your life, the lessons it has taught and how it has helped you succeed?
“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” I sincerely believe in this quotation by Bill Gates. Failures are an important part of success, in fact there is no such thing as failure if you learn something from the so called failure. Let’s truly define failure. I look at failure as follows: You create a hypothesis and set about proving that hypothesis. The hypothesis maybe incorrect in that time continuum but may work at a different time, it maybe in fact incorrect assumptions that you used to prove the hypothesis even though your hypothesis maybe complete etc. So what is important is learning. This is where some of the greatest discoveries have happened. Most people stop short and walk away when they encounter obstacles. Not going after what you believe in and walking away is failure. The same goes for me. A good friend and mentor once told me that you do your best while being true to yourself and your vision and believe in the powers beyond you and things will happen. Isn’t this the teaching from the Bhagavad Geeta – The principal/ Theory of Karma. Finally if your really believe in something and give your 200 per cent then all the forces in the universe will align with you and people will come from nowhere to help you realise that vision. So being true to your vision and believing in the almighty the bring all the forces of nature to help you is the single most important thing.
How important is it for you to think innovation, while planning the future of your company?
The company is based on innovation. In today’s day and age, technology is changing very rapidly. What was relevant five years back or even two years back is old and obsolete. While this has been the case for a while in the technology field, its is now becoming very true in the healthcare field as well. With the advent of AI, Deep Learning, Data Analytics, Microfluidics and Nano Technology, 3D Printing and new materials which can be used for grafting, things which seemed impossible are possible today.
We have done exactly that at POC Medical Systems as well. We have used these major advances to create a disruptive technology in the Pandora CDx and the MammoAlert a screening tool which is portable and low cost and accurate to fight an age old disease like breast cancer. Existing technology allows less than four per cent of the women worldwide (60 million women) to be screened for breast cancer. Of which 2.5 million are found to have cancer and over 0.7 million women succumb to this dreadful disease. Just imagine if you were able to screen all 1.6 billion women, how many women would be found to actually have breast cancer and how many die due to it. These lives could be saved if you could only detect it early. The Pandora CDx and the MammoAlert give these women that hope. Similarly look at ovarian or cervical or colorectal or lung or prostate cancer, how many people have these diseases and how many there maybe with out even knowing and how many maybe dying an unnecessary death. No major breakthrough has come about to address these problems until now.
We are still continuing to innovate and develop screening tests for other types of cancer and various other diseases. As a result, POC has been felicitated by numerous awards, be it the “Game Changer Award”, “The East Bay Innovation Award”, “The Most Impactful Social Innovator Award”, “The Dream Maker Award”, The Frost and Sullivan Technology Award of 2018″ and so on. We believe that our people need to think outside the box and they should be willing to try something new. We do not hang them for taking risks, on the other hand we endorse taking risks. We always look out for innovation that maybe taking place in the various governments labs that we can license in for us to be one step ahead of the rest.
In your opinion where does India stand in terms of innovation? What scope does our nation have to become the innovation hub for the world?
Every one in India is an innovator. The problem is they stop too early. Some see it through but most do not due to family and societal pressures. The Government in India, especially since Modi, has been encouraging innovation. There are many ways the government is supporting Innovation, be it through TDB, DST grants, SIBRI or the BIPPP etc.
Many other initiatives have been launched by the Indian government such as:
a) Make In India
b) Startup India, which promotes entrepreneurship by mentoring, nurturing and facilitating startups
c) Atal Innovation Mission incubation centers, which provide access to sector experts, business planning support, seed capital, industry partners and training to encourage innovative start-ups
d) Digital India: which provides technological solutions to address challenges and improve quality of life in India through the application of science and technology
e) Stand-Up India, which seeks to leverage institutional credit for the benefit of India’s underprivileged &
f) National Skill Development Mission: which is designed to expedite decision-making across sectors to provide skills at scale, without compromising on quality or speed should change the picture for better.
The question, “Will India become an innovation hub?” is yet to be seen. While the entrepreneurs exist and the entrepreneurial mindset exists in India and there are enough problems that need to be solved, the key issue is, “Are the Indian investors willing to take the risk?” This is a question which only time will be able to answer. Hence, if the investors come along and are willing to go after the high risk high reward model, I think India could become an innovation hub.
Your company is going in for series B funding. How much fund are you raising?
We are planning to raise about $45 million. This round will be a combination of equity some debt and some non-dilutive funding.
How will you utilise those funds?
The funds will be used for growing the company organically and inorganically. Both by internal innovation and by acquisitions. We expect to expand our manufacturing foot print and our marketing reach worldwide.
Are there any new technologies in the pipeline? What impact you wish to create with them?
We are working on other diagnostics test which will revolutionise they way we test those diseases like we are doing with screening for breast cancer.