Vyome Biosciences (Vyome), a New Delhi-based early startup founded by technology experts – Dr. Shiladitya Sengupta, Dr. Rajesh Gokhale and Rajeev Mantri – was established in 2010 with an initial investment of US $ 1 million from Kolkata-based Navam Capital. The company is focused on harnessing functional genomics and nanotechnology to dramatically improve the efficacy of skin treatment solutions. “There have been rapid advances in science that have not been applied to products in this field. Vyome is pioneering the application of cutting-edge science to dermatology,” explains Mantri.
“Getting people is the greatest challenge. We need technical competency as well as creativity.”
What helps Vyome’s cause is that Sengupta and Gokhale are both subject matter experts. While Sengputa was assistant professor of medicine and health sciences and technology at Harvard Medical School, Gokhale comes with the rich experience of having headed the New Delhi-based Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology. The two founding scientists hold international patents for various skin care solutions in their respective laboratories that are being productised at Vyome. With the research and development department under safe hands, Mantri brings in the financial expertise that is crucial for a startup.
Recently, the company inducted scientist Dr. R.A. Mashelkar, as chairman of the board alongside former banker, Ranjana Kumar and management consultant, Suvojoy Sengupta.
Founders: Dr. Shiladitya Sengupta, Dr. Rajesh Gokhale and Rajeev Mantri
Investors: Navam Capital
Investment: US $1 million
Industry: Developing products for dermatological care
Concept in Brief: Addressing skin care areas with the use of cutting-edge technology such as causal functional genomics, human skin platforms and nanotechnology
Investing in technology
Vyome’s target areas include the skin care areas of acne, dandruff, chronic skin wounds and pigmentation disorders and it intends to address these using cutting technologies such as nanotechnology and causal functional genomics. “This approach is also expected to increase our knowledge about these diseases, which is then harnessed for improving therapeutic strategies,” says Mantri.
The company is in its early stages of operations and is focusing on developing a critical mass of products before entering the market. The funds infused in the company are currently being used for research and development of the complete range. While speaking of the significant challenges it faces, Mantri says, “Getting people is the greatest challenge. We need technical competency as well as creativity.” For the eight to ten scientists currently working at Vyome, the biggest attraction was the quality of work at the company. Several of them have joined Vyome after working at internally renowned organizations where they were working in related areas.
Product first, marketing next
The marketing strategy and the manufacturing details are yet to be worked out. “Once the products are ready in the next two to three quarters, we will be ready with how to manufacture and market them,” explains Mantri. However, he adds that currently there are no plans to manufacture directly and the company may take the licensing option.
With respect to marketing, the company will use a mix of strategies – going through clinics and dermatologists, and/or directly, using the retail route. “We will reach a decision by mid-next year,” he says.
Currently, the excitement within the company is about research and the products it is creating. And its founders are certainly not lacking in belief that they have struck upon the right formula to shake up the markets.
Mumbai-based Webklipper Technologies, which develops customer engagement products for e-commerce portals, received its first round of external funding from New Delhi-based Indian Angel Network (IAN) in October 2011. Avlesh Singh, founder and chief-executive officer, Webklipper says, “We were in touch with a few other angel investors and early stage funds as well. It was thanks to the personal interest taken by Rajan Anandan (Google India chief) that the turnaround time at IAN was the quickest and hence investment from IAN happened.” Singh also believes that the strength of the product, WebEngage, certainly helped while fund raising.
I would like to get 10,000 customers as quickly as possible. That will make us cash flow positive and we can fuel our own growth
The company will use its first round of funds towards product development and expanding its team.
Making things simple
Webklipper was started in October 2010 with seed investment from its promoters, Singh and Ankit Utreja (CTO) and five engineers who were passionate about product development. Singh had been part of a startup team at Burrp.com, a local search portal. Most of his team also worked with him at Burrp.com, in the past. They brought their expertise to Webklipper and have built WebEngage with a simple interface that makes it easy for customers to use it.
Founders: Avlesh Singh, Ankit Utreja
Year: October 2010
Investors: Indian Angel Network
Concept in Brief: A one-stop destination for all customer engagement needs for any e-commerce portal that allows feedback and support, short targeted surveys and multi-admin access
Singh points out that new product development is not encouraged at most organisations and many existing online products are clones of popular products in the west – classifieds, blogs, news and the like. Webklipper, however, has built its product from scratch. Developed and promoted as a one-stop destination for all customer engagement needs for any website, its targeted (customised) surveys for different kinds of visitors is quite a success. “We are trying to create a market of ‘short contextual and targeted’ surveys with WebEngage and so far we have done a good job,” he adds. In just six months, it has managed to garner 500 customers worldwide with over 25 per cent of its customers coming from U.K. and the U.S. Some of its customers are Cleartrip, Future Group, One97 and JustEat Global.
Promoted through social media marketing and its blog (webklipper.wordpress.com), Webklipper found word-of-mouth advertising an effective way to reach to its customer base. “Every website that wishes to engage visitors on its website is our potential customer. We are into the business of converting visitors into customers,” explains Singh while adding, “I would like to get 10,000 customers as quickly as possible. That will make us cash flow positive and we can fuel our own growth.” Viral marketing and direct interactions with customers and educating them are some of the methods the company is following to reach out to its prospective customers in India. As for the customer base from the U.S. and U.K., Singh is viewing a growth rate of 50 – 60 per cent. He expects the next six months to be crucial for growth as the company implements aggressive marketing strategies.
Looking to the future, the company plans to invest in product development and expand its offerings to include other customer engagement tools (like live chat) inside the WebEngage umbrella. Another focus area would be building a good presence in the U.S., where the adoption rates of existing clients has been encouraging. Also, the tool is a natural fit for e-commerce companies, so there will be targeted marketing to this segment.