Sandeep Saxena, Founder CEO, Acton Biotech, Pune

In an exclusive interview with India Infoline, he told us about his journey from a fresh MBA to founding his own company. He also gave some advice that MBA students can follow when they start working.

Acton Biotech is the first and only company offering genetic tests to cancer patients in India to select the right drug for every patients. These tests are based on the premise that every person is different, and these differences are because of our genes. Thanks to the human genome project, we now have to power to read every person's genes. We have started with cancer because drugs are expensive, very toxic and its essential that the drugs work. Currently we can identify weather a patient will benefit from a drug, will have no response or will have only side effects from all commonly used chemotherapy drugs. We are on a mission to make chemotherapy safer and effective so that patients get better and faster cure and no or minor side effects. Gradually we will extend our services

March 10, 2014 11:21 IST | India Infoline News Service
What encouraged you to become an Entrepreneur in Biotech space?

After I completed my MBA, I took up a job. From that day onwards, I worked only to learn business models, management styles, marketing and sales and other skills that would be needed when I start my own company. I took up different roles and worked in different industries so that I get maximum exposure. I was a fresher in all my assignments and so never cared for higher salary.

How big is the opportunity? And What are your future plans for the company?

Acton Biotech is into clinical genetic testing. We are currently working in cancer and there are 20 lac cancer patients in India. That itself is a lot of work. We plan to expand our test menu to cover other diseases like Asthma, Diabetes, TB, AIDS, Cardiovascular and CNS disorders. Once we have covered all diseases, there are other conditions like obesity, baldness which can also be tested. This will need close to 5 years. By then research would have covered significant ground, to make many more applications of genetic tests. So the opportunity is fairly large.

When did you start the company?

Our company was registered on 19th June, 2007 and we performed the Puja in our office on Janmashtami day, 4th Sept 2007.

How Has your business school background helped you in starting and running your business?

The subjects, namely, Marketing, Finance, HR, give us a good overview of a business. Secondly, with industry interaction, class interaction, management games, case studies and projects give us some real life experience. All this forms the foundation of a business. I have seen lots of technical people struggle in business because they do not have this broad over view. Post MBA work experience converts the theoretical knowledge into real life learning.  With this knowledge and experience under my belt, I feel very confident of handling any situation.

Would you encourage Bschool students to become entrepreneurs immediately after passing out, or a few years experience is desirable and must?

I would strongly discourage students becoming entrepreneurs immediately after passing out. Without work experience, the knowledge is not of much use, because there are lots of disconnects. During MBA, one becomes a high flier. Work experience is needed to bring the person down to earth. When you work, you realize the importance of an appointment letter, a boss, colleagues, afternoon tea, xerox machine, office boy, salary date, office politics etc etc. You will experience all the good things in your company and the bad things in a company. This experience is important because, you want to give the best
environment to your employees.

Advise to BSchool students?

Completing MBA is not the end of studies. It should be the beginning of self studies. I still read close to a book in a month.

Don't get into business to make money. Get into business to serve customers, to bring products / services that do not exist in the market today, to do something really grand that the world stops to find out what you are doing. Get into business if you feel that a job is too easy and you need something more challenging. Business is the most challenging things that you can get involved in. Its like a roller coaster ride that lasts for 5 years. There is a sudden dip, when you feel confident. And there is a great surprise, when you were feeling that the sky is falling. Get into business, for the love of starting and building a venture. Its the most satisfying feeling, you can ever get.

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