Dilip Patil, Managing Partner, Trivector Biomed LLP founded the Group in 1993 by establishing a company—Trivector Scientific International— with the vision of addressing the needs of the stakeholders in the area of infertility. In an interaction with the enthusiastic entrepreneur, Kartik Sharma of Elets News Network (ENN) discovers the journey of a young boy from a remote village in Maharashtra, who went on to become the Managing Partner of one of the first companies to work in the field of infertility in India.
Since Trivector has been a pioneer in the field of infertility in India. How did it all start?
I was working with a company as a Service Manager, but I always dreamt of starting something of my own. After a long wait, I got the opportunity to start a company of my own. I started my first company called the Scientific Service Syndicate, which had a small shared office space. Soon, the need for more people was felt and a few former colleagues readily agreed to help me widen the base. Within six months, there was remarkable progress and we were in talks to bag a big agency contract from ISRO.
But the Scientific Service Syndicate was a proprietorship concern, which made us realise that we need a new company with a better name since we were getting associated with bigger agencies. So, I along with two of my colleagues, after brainstorming on alot of names, came up with ‘Trivector’. The three of us after brainstorming about a lot of names, settled on Trivector and the logo was designed during our train journey back home. That’s how Trivector Group was born.
Tell us more about the first big success and the first big challenge of the company?
Our first success came in the form of an agency of a British company. We participated in the tendering process and arranged the deposit amount through loan, and finally bagged the order. It was a challenging time as we didn’t exactly have enough resources, but we knew the coming days were going to be better. The second agency that we got was of Supermax Razor Company, but the challenges were far from over. We received a fax that the company, whose agency we possessed, had gone bankrupt. This was our first biggest challenged that made my colleagues turn hostile towards the company. Trivector took around a year to come out of this shock.
What was the breakthrough for Trivector in the field of Healthcare?
Encouragement and support of two people actually was the reason for Trivector to enter the field of IVF. This was a time when only five IVF centres existed and fertility field was just opening up in India. One of the clinics was already my client. Dr Sheryas Padgaokar was a doctor who had come from Australia to complete his fellowship and was suggested by my IVF centre client to contact me for his need of machinery. Dr Padgaokar wanted a supplier of embryo freezer and asked me for help. There was a company in Australia which would provide this and after I contacted them, they were not keen to enter in to India. Everybody had a mindset as to why a large, populated country like India would need IVF. So, we had to fight this mindset and eventually we won the non-exclusive agency of that company.
Another person, Dr Madhuri Patil from Sangli had attended a training seminar in Singapore where she came across a readymade culture media being used. She told us about the product supplied by a Danish company which will be of great use in Indian markets. We faced some problem in getting the agency of this company, but eventually succeeded. The first order was given to Dr Padgaokar and it was successfully delivered maintaining the cold storage chain. And, this is how Trivector got this breakthrough in the field of Healthcare and IVF.
Being a pioneer in a particular field has its own advantages and disadvantages. What has been your experience?
The readymade culture media was a product unheard in the Indian markets, and since we could successfully deliver it, we started getting lots of orders for the same. As the size of the orders grew, the complications in the transport also grew in the same proportion. When we placed an order of around 1,000 media cultures, it had to be sent by a cargo via DHL. DHL told us that the product was detained as the chemical analysis of the product was needed along with quarantine certificate and a lot of documents. Since nobody had ordered such products earlier, there was no process in place for importing it.
Our first success came in the form of an agency of a British company. We participated in the tendering process and arranged the deposit amount through loan, and finally bagged the order
Another problem was that the shelf life of that product was only 17 days, which made it necessary to be distributed at the earliest. Eventually, we had to abandon the media and the orders were a waste. DHL refused to help us clear it and so did all the other private clearing agents, as they would not deal with perishable products. Eventually, we found an agent who said this will have to be brought in by direct delivery process, for which the paper work had to be done earlier and was a three-month time consuming process. We had to talk to RBI authorities to finally set up a process to bring this product in the market. As the pioneers, we had to set up this process. Today, 12 companies are selling this product in the market and all are following the process we set up initially.
What other diversions did the Trivector Group take apart from servicing the healthcare sector?
Once we started adding more and more products to our menu, we realised that we need to train our customers with the proper utilisation of the products. So, we started by sending a few of them to Copenhagen University to know about the products and attend the training programmes. Then we set up a training centre in collaboration with the Copenhagen University. We started the Trivector Fertility School in 2006, which was first of its kind in India. As this training school progressed, we realised that we keep on needing sperm samples. The only option back then was to either get animal sperms, which was difficult, or to purchase real sperms from the sperm banks. Soon, it dawned on us that these sample purchased from the sperms banks were adulterated and not of good quality. That’s how the sperm bank of Trivector Group came into existence.