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Small Town, Big Dreams: Success Story Of Thyrocare
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Small Town, Big Dreams: Success Story Of Thyrocare

Thyrocare, the world’s biggest preventative healthcare lab and diagnostic centre, was founded by Arokiaswamy Velumani and has become synonymous with excellence and cost. Astonishingly, a millionaire like Velumani doesn’t possess a car and lives in a modest apartment above his huge laboratory in Navi Mumbai. Read about Velumani’s amazing journey and his Rs. 3300 crore enterprise.

EARLY-STAGE

Arokiaswamy was born in a hamlet on the outskirts of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, in 1959 to a poor landless farmer. His mother maintained him and his three siblings by saving Rs. 50 each week from the milk from the buffaloes she bought and used it to feed her family for the following 10 years. He came out in quest of a brighter future after growing up in a hamlet with limited access to education. Young males went to college to locate a fair-skinned wife back then. Arokiaswamy earned a BSc. degree at the age of 19, but he struggled to find work. He eventually got work at Gemini Capsules, a tiny pharmaceutical firm in Coimbatore, at a meagre monthly wage of Rs 150. He remembers keeping Rs. 50 for himself and sending the balance of the payment to his parents through telegram. He worked there for four years before leaving to work as a lab assistant at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai. “My parents were really poor. They could never afford to purchase me a pair of chappals (sandals) or a pair of pants. I was born at the bottom of the pyramid’s 10 segments. It wasn’t a simple task.” He said as he recalled the early days of his struggle.

JOURNEY FROM SCIENTIST TO ENTREPRENEUR

Velumani began his career in 1979 as a shift chemist at Gemini Capsules, a small pharmaceutical firm in Coimbatore. Every month, the 20-year-old chemistry graduate received a pittance of Rs150 ($2.25 at the time). Three years later, the company went out of business, leaving Velumani jobless. Velumani applied for a lab assistant position at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), one of India’s top atomic research centres in Mumbai. He had been accepted. However, once inside the famous centre named for India’s nuclear energy pioneer Homi J Bhabha, Velumani opted to continue his studies.

He started with a master’s degree in 1985 and finished his PhD programme in thyroid biochemistry by 1995, thanks to a collaboration between the University of Mumbai and BARC. “Back then, I was earning and learning, and BARC enabled scientists to study and explore even more,” Velumani said. Meanwhile, he advanced to the position of scientist and was assigned to the BARC’s Radiation Medicine Centre (RMC), which concentrated on the use of nuclear energy in healthcare and agriculture.

BEGINNING WITH THE COMPANY

Velumani began pursuing a PhD in Thyroid Biochemistry after his marriage. He left his government position at BARC and launched Thyrocare with Rs. 1 lakh investment from his Provident Fund. The first Thyrocare facility opened in Byculla, Mumbai, with an emphasis on thyroid testing at first, given the large market potential in India. His wife, Sumathi, resigned from her job at SBI to join Thyrocare as the company’s first employee. Thyrocare’s initial emphasis was on identifying thyroid problems.

It has now expanded into other diagnostic fields, including diabetes, sexually transmitted infections (STDs), infertility, and cardiovascular disorders. “I pioneered the buffet system in the field of diagnostics,” said Velumani. Thyroid tests account for only 28% of the samples processed by the firm today. The samples are collected by 1,250 franchisee collection centres across India and sent to the main Centralized Processing Laboratory (CPL) in Turbhe, Navi Mumbai, and five Regional Processing Laboratories (RPL) in major Indian metros.

Bahrain, Nepal, and Bangladesh are also home to the firm. The firm was valued at Rs. 650 crores in 2011. Thyrocare’s recent IPO (Initial Public Offering) was oversubscribed 73 times, bringing the total to Rs. 3415 crore. The firm made its debut on the Indian Stock Market in May 2016, about a hundred days before its Initial Public Offering (IPO), with a valuation of Rs 3,377 crore ($505 million). He now controls more than 64% of the firm, making him worth at least $323 million.

The firm plans to open twenty additional laboratories around the country. Velumani feels upbeat about his and his company’s chances of continuing their winning run. “I’m gifted with a big risk appetite,” he says, dramatically adding, “and this will enable me to continue to be the national raja in my area.” But, that’s not the end. Velumani and his crew, is also focusing on establishing a subsidiary focused on cancer screening using molecular imaging. Thyrocare is just planning to touch the sky now.

Thank you!

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1 Comment

  1. Hemant Kumar Sinha

    very good story.

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