A true serial entrepreneur never settles down but keeps building new ideas into successful ventures and moves on to the next. Taking multiple plunges, grabbing worthy market opportunities and showing an undying passion for entrepreneurship, Vipul Jain is one such serial entrepreneur who has had his hands busy in a plethora of industries over the years.
Vipul’s working tenure spans more than 15 years wherein he dabbled in multiple fields and successfully built a name for himself. From starting with fabric import to building PlanetHospital – one of the world’s largest medical tourism companies, his interest in such business opportunities depicts a man with varied tastes who knows what he is doing. His latest venture, Advancells, focuses on stem cell therapy and has further sunk Vipul’s feet into the start-up industry.
In conservation with the man himself, we find out about his entrepreneurial journey and how he built Advancells into a leading stem cell therapy facility.
MBP : Tell us a bit about your background and what led you to enter the startup industry.
Vipul : I completed my studies in 1999 from the U.S and while I was there, internet start-ups were just starting and people were making big bucks out of them. So, I was close to the culture where you have to start something new. If you work hard, there’s a good chance that you could make a big company. My family supported me by letting me pursue my dream and I finally decided to start on my own. I did have a backup of joining the family business but fortunately everything worked out fine.
MBP : Your latest venture, Advancells deals with stem cell therapy. Could you tell us a bit about its inception?
Vipul : I had been working in the medical tourism business before we started advanced cells. We got a lot of queries from the patients there about the procedures on stem cells.
We soon started doing a lot of research, checking the internet and talking to people across the globe about its scope. At the end, we understood that stem cell therapy is actually the future of modern medicine. It won’t be far when it becomes a core standard for any kind of treatment for any kind of disease . Once we knew that it was a great opportunity for us, we decided to invest our own money and build a company around it . So we started looking for partners across the world and fortunately, we found good partners in Germany who were willing to export technology to us. That’s how we set up the lab and that’s how we are taking it up since that day.
MBP : Was it difficult building the infrastructure needed for Advancells in both the logistics and business levels? What is the technology that goes behind stem cell therapy?
Vipul : The difficulty in setting the lab is basically that you have to understand the science behind it. Fortunately or unfortunately, so much of research is happening on stem cell today that everyday there is a path breaking new procedure or an improvement on existing technology. So the biggest challenge is that we have to consistently update ourselves when it comes to technology. We have to ensure constant updating and for that you have to be constantly involved with the scientists and researchers and keep a tab on what is happening.
MBP : Step cell therapy seems to have a lot of potential in India. How are you planning to expand Advancells?
Vipul : Currently our focus is to expand the knowledge of stem cell treatment. We want more patients, doctors and people to understand and agree to the kind of treatment that can be used for patients where contemporary treatment has already failed. Today, a doctor’s word is considered to be the final word. So if the doctors understand and open up to a new world and the patients also understand this, then the access to such technology becomes easier. So right now we are totally concentrating on spreading the message. We are doing a lot of online spread, offline conferences and special education sessions where we tell people what is happening in the stem cell industry.
MBP : How has the response been so far?
Vipul : The response has been very good. Since we started, we have got double digit responses on a monthly basis and we are getting a lot of doctors who have started engaging with us.
MBP : How supportive has the regulatory framework been so far regarding the usage of stem cell treatment?
Vipul : Yes and no. The regulatory framework in India is pretty much absent when it comes to stem cells – there is no law which regulates stem cell treatments . We have got no support from the regulatory unit and we have been approaching the government for the rework of the framework. Now the new government seems to be very supportive of the idea. We have been hearing that the government is making new committees. That makes us hopeful.
MBP : Do you think that’s because they are not aware of the advantages of stem cell therapy?
Vipul : They are aware but the government steps takes a lot of time. They need a lot of data. Stem cell itself is a 4-5 year industry hence it takes time to gather the data required.
MBP : Stem cell therapy is relatively new – How do you see the future of Indian medical sciences and how can healthcare start-ups help in this issue?
Vipul : Healthcare is one of the biggest problem areas in india right now. Facilities available in India are still not up to the global standards. The industry needs major reforms. In terms of stem cell therapy, it is a revolutionary and personalized way of treatment. It certainly has the capability to revolutionize the health care industry.
MBP : Do you think start ups can bring a change to this?
Vipul : Absolutely. Start-ups brought the IT revolution in the 70’s and 80’s. I definitely believe that start ups can revolutionize the healthcare industry too .
MBP : Let’s have a look at your other start-ups. You went from fabric enterprise to Mirage Animation and then to your venture into Medical tourism?
Vipul : Fabric import was more of an extension over the family business of garments exports, so when I came back it gave me the satisfaction of doing something of my own. Then I moved on to animation. I was always fascinated by the art of movie making. It’s been a dream of mine to make a movie of my own someday. We started Mirage Animation with a small team with small animations for CDs and education materials. We soon got an opportunity for a film from a French client which led to further projects from Walt Disney, Fox Studios and Warner Bros.
Medical tourism happened by chance. One of my employees was on a holiday in Thailand and his wife got sick. We took her to a hospital there and that’s when I found out that the care was excellent and the price was quite cheap as compared to in the US. So we just thought of an idea and built PlanetHospital on it. We were surprised that within three months, we got hundreds of clients. That’s how we started and the rest is history.
MBP : Could you give some professional advice to young start-ups and entrepreneurs?
Vipul : I am a true believer in the fact that you should dream much bigger than the things you think can happen. If your thoughts are big, only then you will find yourself achieving your dream. Broaden your thought and then start working towards it.
Vipul’s journey shows his enduring spirit and thirst for knowledge to build compelling start-ups that have achieved towering milestones. In true entrepreneurial style, he has transformed various contrasting ideas to multiple business models that have inspired and contributed to the start-up industry.