2018 W-Power Trailblazers: How Arunima Patel's diagnostics firm is helping to save lives

With faster results, iGenetic scores over conventional laboratory testing

After studying law I vectored towards journalism by accident and it's the only job I've done since. It's a job that has taken me on a private jet to Jaisalmer - where I wrote India's first feature on fractional ownership of business jets - to the badlands of west UP where India's sugar economy is inextricably now tied to politics. I'm a big fan of new business models and crafty entrepreneurs. Fortunately for me, there are plenty of those in Asia at the moment.

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Arunima Patel
Age: 39    
Managing director, iGenetic Diagnostics


For patients with infections such as septicemia, a quick diagnosis can often mean the difference between life and death. Isolating the cause of such infections with a regular laboratory test takes up to two days, resulting in high mortality.

iGenetic Diagnostics, by making use of molecular diagnostic testing and identifying biological markers in a person’s DNA, can help doctors identify the cause of the infection in less than four hours. “They are far superior in their specificity and sensitivity,” says Arunima Patel, who founded the company in 2013.

Patel, who grew up in Bhopal, is no stranger to the medical profession. After graduating from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad in 2002, she worked in the health care practice of private equity company Actis, and was responsible for their investment in Sterling Hospitals. Her time at Actis convinced her of the need for a credible molecular testing service, leading her to start iGenetic, along with co-founders Dr Archana Krishnan and Dr Sanjay Sonar, with funds from friends and family.

Over the last year, the Mumbai-based firm has expanded into the critical care, oncology and infertility spaces, with tests for the onset of certain cancers, Down’s Syndrome, thalassaemia and sickle-cell anaemia. Testing is done mainly at the 10,000-sq feet laboratory in Andheri, Mumbai, where the company can keep a strict control on its intellectual property. After Patel raised ₹6.5 crore from high net-worth individuals in 2016, she raised a further ₹130 crore from CDC Group and Manipal Education and Medical Group in February 2017.

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Patel’s main task is to expand the roster of hospitals and laboratories that offer its tests, for which she pitches to doctors, and not the purchase department, as this ensures they spread the word to other doctors. “Our job involves a lot of doctor education and I, at times, personally visit doctors along with my sales team,” she says. Patel declined to reveal revenue numbers, or if the venture is profitable.

At Apollo Health City in Hyderabad Dr Subbareddy, senior consultant, critical care, has been prescribing iGenetic’s tests for the last two years. For septicemia, the “tests allow us to identify the appropriate organism and start antibiotics much sooner,” he says. While they are more expensive—₹15,000 versus ₹5,000 for a laboratory culture test—the time saved allows patients to save on daily Intensive Care Unit costs.

Patel plans to expand to the Middle East, and beyond the five Indian states they now operate in, start regular laboratory testing in Maharashtra, which will give them a steady revenue stream and allow them to make use of their facilities full time.

(This story appears in the 16 March, 2018 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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