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How This Young Woman Entrepreneur Built a Successful Biotechnology Startup Out of Hubballi

Sunday, October 2, 2016 8:12
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With its rustic charm, multi-lingual culture, and cosmopolitan outlook, North Karnataka, with its largely untapped market, is waiting to be explored! This commercial hub is home to a wide cluster of industries and has more than one lakh small and medium businesses, and that number is growing. The region is now witnessing a revolutionary crop of entrepreneurs who are taking these very traditional businesses to a whole new level with a technological twist. One among them is biotech entrepreneur Sarah D’Souza, Founder and Chairman of Biosyl Technologies, a biotech-based company, headquartered in Hubballi, which deals with both manufacturing and services.

Sarah, 26, was born and brought up in Hubballi and went on to study Biotechnology Engineering at KLE Technological University in the city. But it was not just a degree or a cushy job that Sarah was after.

Thus, after her graduation, she decided to chase her dreams and went ahead to start Biosyl Technologies with her classmate Amit Vernekar in 2013 with an initial investment of Rs 1.5 lakh.


Startup Lessons

With no prior professional experience, it has mostly been a self-learning journey.

Although Sarah came with a strong technical background, she lacked the practical knowledge required to run a new enterprise, and networked extensively at events to overcome it. Being a Biotechnology graduate also made it a challenging task to design equipment, and hence Sarah enrolled for courses to match the requirement. Once equipped with all the required skills, Sarah and her co-founder  worked on professionally displaying their products and marketing them by trying various self-taught methods, something they continue to polish even today.

The private limited company focuses strongly on  biotechnology and its applications. Biosyl’s in-house lab takes up contracts for quality analysis, microbial testing, biochemical analysis and stability testing. Biosyl’s first product was a Milk Adulteration Test Kit, which Sarah addresses as a ‘pocket lab’. The Kit helps consumers identify adulterants present in milk before consumption. Biosyl has adopted the production model, where the company manufactures and sells its products to target customers, thus generating revenue. The company’s R&D pipeline for 2016–2017 includes products in the agricultural and waste-treatment sectors.

Biosyl’s Anaerobic Workstation aims to provide researchers a quick and easy way to culture anaerobes, potential producers of several industrial products. Anaerobic means “without oxygen.” The bacteria are able to survive and grow in environments devoid of oxygen and could possibly react negatively, and may even die, in the presence of oxygen.

“The market has been growing the last several years, but in India, only a few industries and institutions have access to anaerobic chambers. Many pharmaceutical products are not produced due to lack of this facility and it being a tedious process to cultivate,” says Sarah.

With the advent of Biosyl’s cost-effective Anaerobic Workstation, industries and institutions will be aided in carrying out further research.

Sarah and her team’s self-taught efforts did pay off as the company went on to earn a number of awards and accolades. Biosyl Technologies was the winner of the prestigious TATA FIRST DOT  Judge’s Choice Award 2013 for Best Student Startup and was ranked among India’s Top 40 Innovators at the National Fair of India Innovation Initiative (i3) 2012.

The hometown advantage

The bootstrapped venture makes an annual revenue of about Rs 10 lakh. The core team of four operates out of Biosyl’s headquarters at the Centre For Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the BVB campus, Hubli, and has twelve interns at present.

When Sarah decided to start up after college, the obvious choice concerning where to begin was her hometown. So how has working out of a tier II city panned out for her?

Conventional businesses in the region are waking up to the revolutionary powers of technology and are embracing it more than ever, which is encouraging youngsters like Sarah to take the entrepreneurial plunge. Moreover, the cost of operations and familiarity are also proving to be major draws.


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