Backed with capital from Zoho’s Sridhar Vembu, Perinkulam Kasthuri of vTitan wants to make a dent in the global medical device landscape. He’s starting with SMART infusion pumps that’ll be used for the administration of intravenous medications
Generally speaking, medical device technologies take about 10 years from lab to market, primarily for two reasons – R&D costs and challenges, and regulatory compliance. For Perinkulam Kasthuri, who has an educational background in aerospace and mechanical engineering, these factors weren’t deterrents, but an opportunity to make a difference in the medical device landscape.
While he didn’t have any direct work experience in the area, Kasthuri was convinced of the opportunity to build technology-centric medical device products. He wanted to design and manufacture high-quality, purposeful medical devices, yet was convinced that it had to be affordable.
With these underlying principles in mind, he launched vTitan Corporation in 2011. It took him the next three years to build the right team, fine-tune the initial product idea and setup the entire process including the supplier ecosystem. He found the right investor-partner in Sridhar Vembu of Zoho Corp, who has invested US $10 million in three tranches, so far. It was critical to raise patient capital, where the investor understood the founder’s long-term vision yet was not hurrying to get returns. “We deliberately took the money in three tranches so that we delivered at each phase before spending further,” adds Kasthuri.
Currently, the company has launched two patented products – AccuFlow SP-550 and AccuFlow IBP-550, both syringe pumps often used in ICUs and chemotherapy to infuse highly potent drugs in a controlled manner to ensure effectiveness of the drug while also keeping in mind patient safety. The IBP version comes with an integrated battery pack to ensure that the syringe pump functions even when there is loss of power. The SP-550 model requires uninterrupted power supply.
The core technology in both products is a patented closed-loop motion control technology. Kasturi says the opportunity was spotted some time in 2010. “I remember, I was tracking this space and both AAMI (Association for Advanced Medical Instrumentation) and ECRI (a laboratory for testing medical products) had declared that infusion pumps needed re-engineering to deliver greater safety for patients,” recalls Kasthuri. In the case of infusion pumps, there are several factors that can cause loss of control during the drug delivery process, endangering patients. The goal was to build a product to solve this exact problem at the time of drug delivery. Additionally, Kasthuri wanted to ensure that the product would work in an ambulance (hence the battery pack) and in tier-3/4 cities and rural locations.
We deliberately took it (the funds) in three tranches so that we delivered at each phase before spending further
The company believes there is an opportunity to work with hospitals around the world, and it wants to start with India, South East Asia, Africa & the US. vTitan is also working on a user-centric design, complete with an alarm, display and longer battery life. While there is competition from ventures in Germany, Japan and UK, Kasthuri believes that its closed-loop motion control technology will be the big differentiator, in addition to ease-of-use.
Going forward, the company wants to launch many more medical devices to solve various problems in healthcare and drug delivery.
While vTitan currently employs 87 people in India and the US, the company is now gearing up for growth. It is expected to build a team of 400 to run manufacturing and distribution operations, while the strength of the R&D team will be about 40.
Inspired by Zoho University and its approach of hiring & training high-school graduates, vTitan too is setting up vTitan University, and is look to staff most of the 400 in manufacturing and distribution through this training program. It is also hiring fresher-engineers from multiple disciplines including mechanical, electrical, software and biomed.
On the distribution side, it is looking to appoint channel partners, in addition to its own feet-on-street team.
From a market perspective, Kasthuri wants to go all out. In addition to global markets, he wants to penetrate into India with all seriousness, and believes the support of the government and large hospital networks is critical to make this happen. On a parting note, Kasthuri simply says: “I’m excited to build this with the majority of my team in India. I would like to see the ecosystem adopt more R&D and technology to improve overall experience for patients.”
Founder: Perinkulam Kasthuri
Year of Incorporation: 2011
Investor: Zoho Corp, led by Sridhar Vembu
Focus: IP-driven Medical Device for Controlled Drug Delivery
Concept in Brief
IP-Driven Medical Device for Controlled Drug Delivery
When Peri Kasturi wanted to start a venture of his own, he drew inspiration from an industry body for medical devices that made an announcement that the drug infusion pump certainly needed an upgrade. After careful deliberation of this opportunity, Kasthuri realized that while this was a single product idea, the entire medical device segment needed a disruption to reduce time from lab-to-market, without compromising on quality. He launched vTitan in 2011 with a team of engineers from multiple backgrounds. His venture filed a patent to deliver controlled closed loop motion technology for infusion pumps used for drug delivery in ICUs and chemotherapy. The company, realizing the need for patient, long-term capital, raised capital from Sridhar Vembu of Zoho, who saw the market opportunity and also decided that Kasthuri would be the right person to build this. The company has recently launched two products – AccuFlow SP-550 and AccuFlow IBP-550, both syringe pumps, the latter with an integrated battery pack. The company is now looking to build a team of 400 into its manufacturing and distribution operations.