Satya Vadlamani and her experience of setting up a pharma company
Satya Vadlamani, the founder of Murli Krishna Pharma Private Ltd., a leading drug delivery systems (DDS) company in India that provides a range of effective solutions to optimise the delivery of pharmaceutical products speaks to us about entrepreneurship and her experience of setting up the company.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I run a $ 7 million manufacturing company - Murli Krishna Pharma Private Ltd. I grew up on the sprawling IIT Bombay campus as my father was a professor at IIT Bombay, my mother was a teacher. Like many IIT children, I too wanted to become an engineer. I studied at the Gandhi Institute of Management (GITAM) in Vishakhapatnam. Girls were scarce in the engineering stream in those days.
Can you tell us about your current venture?
I run a Pharmaceutical Unit near Pune, India. We manufacture pre-Finished formulation Intermediates in the form of pellets, granules and nano particulates. The decade-long journey that began with a single product and only an Indian FDA approval has turned the corner. Today we have 20 molecules, PIC/s approvals, EU approval, Jordanian FDA approval and pellets ranging from macro-size to nano particles.
Our Research and Development department is accredited with approval as an R&D House by the Department of Science and Technology, India. I think setting up an industry the first time is the toughest. No management school can prepare you for the experience.
What are your future goals for the company?
I am looking forward to more regulatory approvals, more recognition in terms of securing good R&D projects from renowned pharmaceutical companies worldwide, increasing our customer base, etc.
Tell us about the entrepreneurial journey.
I invested everything I had in Murli Krishna Pharma. And it was not just money, it was my time, my passion and my life. For the first two years, I travelled constantly since the factory is a 4-hour drive from Mumbai. I had to visit not just the plant but the bank and also my buyers.
Sometimes my kids do blame me for not giving them sufficient time. I agree I was not the “greatest mother” in the world, but I did the best I could. I believe that at least one love of your life should be 100% which takes up all your time. For me, it has been the plant.
The end result of all the passion poured into Murli Krishna Pharma is a world-class manufacturing company. One of the few worldwide with both EU and WHO-GMP approvals in pellets. Today people appreciate our products, our quality, our plant - there is the satisfaction that we have done something. The idea was not only to make money but to make a mark.
How did you venture into this industry?
I was juggling a lot of things and was facing some personal problems too. During that period my father-in-law Mr Vadlamani Subbarao - a veteran in the pharma industry - shifted to Mumbai. Leaving Ranbaxy as a Vice President, he joined Armour Polymers Ltd as an Executive Director. Through him, I met Dr Atma B Gupta, Managing Director of Armour Group of Companies.
We had a couple of interactions and he felt that I had the ability to do a lot more marketing than what I was doing. On his suggestion I agreed to join the company on a part-time basis. My role was simple, to get site approval from UNICEF, Denmark for the formulation plant of the company based at Mandideep, near Bhopal. This would facilitate sales of the products to UNICEF and other NGOs.
Whom do you draw your greatest strength from?
My father was my best friend and biggest support in all my ventures. Were it not for him and his unstinting support, I don’t think that I would have reached where I am today. Today he is no more. I still miss him. I am lucky to have my mother near me. She is my support now.
What advice would you leave us with?
The truth is that given another chance, I will take the risk again but with a good risk assessment in place. I will always follow my dreams and fly high like the eagle.
In the words of Robert Frost ---
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep.
With inner strength and fortitude. And a positive attitude, above all.
For a detailed version of Satya’s story, have a look at her blog.
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