A helping hand for Cancer patients

Perfint Healthcare, a Chennai-based company that provides interventional oncology assistance solutions, recently launched MAXIO, an integrated planning, navigation and robotic targeting system for CT (Computed Tomography) Guided tumour ablation. For a company that aims to change the world of ablation solutions, this is a major milestone as this product has been designed to make complex, multi-probe ablations simpler, which will help make these life saving procedures available to higher number of cancer patients. With this launch, Perfint is progressing towards its goal of becoming a US $100 million company by 2016. Incorporated in 2005, the company focuses on the development of robot-assisted technologies that simplify complex procedures and improve the standard of care provided to patients in need of interventional therapies. Its products, PIGA CT and ROBIO, are used by radiologists around the world for biopsy, drug delivery, ablation, drainage and fine needle aspiration.

 “This helped us understand the overseas market and the regulatory processes, and helped initiate discussions with global distributors.”

When The Smart CEO featured Perfint in March 2010, it had annual revenues of Rs. 4 crore. In FY 2012, it touched revenues of Rs. 15 crore on the back of new product launches, new market entry and increased distributor network. With its products gaining wider acceptance in the global market, it has its future goals well charted out and the company aims to close the current fiscal at Rs. 70 crore. A company, run by a team of four healthcare professionals, S. Nandakumar, K. Guruswamy, K. Puhazhendi and V. Gnanasekar, Perfint received the National Innovation award from the Government of India for its robotic positioner platform. It was also a part of the Asia Top 100 Red Herrring List.

Expanding the market

For Perfint, the focus in FY 2009-10 was on the domestic market for the sale of PIGA units (robotic assistance for CT guided diagnostic procedures). Several top institutions in India including the likes of AIIMS, Sree Chitra Tirunal, JIPMER, KEM, BHU and Jaslok Hospital use its product. Additionally, some of the leading interventional radiologists in the world have become Perfint’s customers.

In 2010-11, the company got the product CE-certified (mandatory conformity mark for products placed on the market in the European Economic Area) and started exports primarily to a few pilot sites in south east Asia. “This helped us understand the overseas market and the regulatory processes, and helped initiate discussions with global distributors,” says S. Nandakumar, co-founder and CEO. Today, its export markets include South Asia, West Asia, APAC and Russia. It is also making inroads into Latin America, South Africa and EU regions.

The company increased its customer facing team both within and outside India, added distributors worldwide and started offices in India, Middle East Asia and APAC. “We have also expanded our clinical advisory panel to include some of the world’s best professionals in the space of interventional oncology as our advisors,” shares Nandakumar.

PIGA’s growth

“Sales of our positioner platform have picked up extremely well over the last two years both in India and overseas,” says Nandakumar. Perfint has shipped out 150 – 175 units of its positioner units (PIGA, ROBIO), which are likely to be installed over the next five to six months across the globe.

Based on market feedback, the company launched a variant platform of PIGA CT called ROBIO platform. It has two products in this platform – ROBIO EX and ROBIO EZ, which will meet the requirements of high end institutions, overseas customers and Indian diagnostic centres. ROBIO EX is an advanced robotic positioner where Perfint has incorporated all the high end features and applications required for a big institution such as integrated planning station, computer aided docking technology, modules to track and restrict patient movements, extended clinical applications like drainage and multi needle pain management. The product addresses everything an interventional radiologist looks for to perform procedures. ROBIO EZ is a value-for-money product that would give quick return on investment to the diagnostic centre owners. This allows them to venture into a new area of service that most of them don’t offer today – robotic assisted pain management procedures like nerve root injections and epidural injections.

The way ahead

Currently, Perfint’s laboratory is accredited by Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) and the company has strengthened its engineering team. It employs around 70 people spread across the world. “We have started adding international hires quite regularly now. As we spread our wings, it has become possible to attract top quality international talent,” says Nandakumar.

It has collaborated with some of the best research laboratories in the world like Stanford Research Institute and Robarts Research Lab (Ontario, Canada) for some of its new product programmes. Perfint has also just started its Advanced Technology Laboratory (ATL) in the U.S. ATL will have a research team focusing on creating technologies for its products in the interventional oncology space. “We have also created a proof of concept for a potentially path breaking smart sensor working closely with scientists from NASA. We have even successfully conducted animal trials for this concept in the animal laboratory of NASA,” says Nandakumar.

It is now working on developing the product that will help clinicians perform ultrasound guided ablation procedures and it is expected to launch it in FY 2013-14. It is also working on another project, a tissue characterisation tool, called Smart Probe.

Nandakumar hopes that, in the future, robotic guidance will become a part of standard protocol in hospitals for doing image guided interventions. The company’s ultimate aim is to create a solution that would make life saving ablation procedures available to a greater number of cancer patients. “To do that, we realised that the complex techniques used by interventional radiologists would have to be made simpler and more predictable. That’s what we’ve done with MAXIO,” says Nandakumar.

The company got its Series C funding (to the tune of US $6 million) from Norwest Venture Partners (NVP), IDG and Accel Partners in November last year. And it plans to raise around US $20 million over the next couple of months which will be used towards setting up the advanced technology laboratory in the U.S., new product launches, new market entry and to attain regulatory approvals. This, coupled with its recent new launches and new market entries, Perfint is all set to achieve its current year’s turnover target of Rs. 70 crore and become a US $100 million company by 2016. “Going forward, we see ourselves as a recognised global leader in the interventional oncology space, working closely with the world’s best clinicians,” concludes Nandakumar.

Then Now
Rs. 4 crore turnover for FY 2010 Rs. 15 crore turnover for FY 2012
Funded by IDG Ventures India and Erasmic Venture Fund to the tune of US $3.5 million Series B Funding (to the tune of US $7.2  million) in July 2010 and Series C funding (to the tune of US $6 million) in November 2011 – both from Norwest Venture Partners, IDG and Accel Partners
Team size of 50 Employs around 75 people spread across the world
Mainly focused on the domestic market for the sale of PIGA units Sells to domestic market and export markets including South Asia, West Asia, APAC and Russia. It is also making inroads into Latin America, South Africa and EU regions
PICA CT was the sole product Products include PIGA CT, ROBIO and MAXIO

Poornima Kavlekar has been associated with The Smart CEO since the time of launch and is the Consulting Editor of the magazine. She has been writing for almost 20 years on a cross section of topics including stocks and personal finance and now, on entrepreneurship and growth enterprises. She is a trained Yoga Teacher, an avid endurance Cyclist and a Veena player.