Anu Acharya’s Mapmygenome aims to offer predictive and diagnostic testing for those who are proactive about their health. The company raised U.S. $1.1 million from a group of angel investors including Rajan Anandhan and Arihant Patni to scale up operations and expand distribution locally and globally
THE FOUNDING IDEA
Having gained considerable startup experience in the telecom and consulting sector soon after graduating from IIT Kharagpur, Anu Acharya came back to India in 2000 and founded her own genomics outsourcing company: Ocimum Biosolutions for discovery, development and diagnostics. But, Acharya had a long time desire to do something that would impact the lives of individuals. “I wanted to take technology to consumers and hence, decided to set up Mapmygenome, a molecular diagnostic company,” states she.
Launched in 2013, Mapmygenome is specifically targeted at those who are proactive about their health. The company does both predictive as well as diagnostic testing and its landmark product is the Genomapatri. Priced at around Rs. 25,000, this product helps an individual understand his/her genetic makeup. This test covers over 120 conditions and provides insights on traits, drug responses, inherited conditions, diseases and so on. By studying the genetic component of one’s health profile along with the family and personal medical history, the company predicts the risk of certain conditions amongst siblings and children.
Additionally, by combining genetic report and health history with genetic counselling, Mapmygenome provides actionable steps for individuals and their physicians to lead a healthier life. “If you do a test, our first report comes to you without any information about your history. The second report is where we will correlate the results with your family history, lifestyle and so on and assess if you are at high risk,” she adds.
The company has a laboratory in Hyderabad and its usual turnaround time is six weeks (they try to turnaround within three weeks). It has a partnership with major hospitals and institutes such as AIIMS and online platforms like Amazon and Snapdeal. It has a presence across the country and has partnerships abroad as well, in Malaysia and Chile.
“We have done a lot of background work in terms of coming up with an algorithm,” states Acharya. The company has come up with its own risk profile based on the population, and that is coded in the algorithm. It has studied a specific set of population – Caucasian, Indian, Chinese and South Asian. It does not offer preventive course of action but simply correlates the reading with lifestyle and gives corrective options.
To connect better with its customer, it has come with an application which helps people through the entire process. One can visualise the report in different formats and correlate with family history and then take the next step.
While the company was initially set up through funds from Acharya and her husband, it recently raised US $1.1 million from a group of angel investors including Rajan Anandan and Arihant Patni. The company will use this pre-series A fund to scale up its operations and expand distribution, locally and globally. It is also looking at expanding its leadership, sales and marketing and genetic counselling network teams. In fact, it has already started adding team members. From a size of 20, it has increased its headcount to 30-35 currently. It is also looking at investing in some assets and scaling up its research.
What will aid growth in this sector is the increase in awareness about the impact that this technology will have on human lives. “Once they are aware of certain diseases and the inherent problem, it will make a big difference in increasing awareness for Genome mapping, “says Acharya.
However, the company is now keen on getting its focus right and executing well. For example, getting the right team has made a great difference in the growth of the organisation. While its vision is to build traction in the minds of the consumer, it also aims to continue its R&D efforts to become relevant to a larger population across the globe. It is currently working on the U.S. population. “We want to build the algorithm to suit those countries and our marketing strategy will include partnering with local hospitals,” concludes Acharya.