In the times of coronavirus pandemic that we are living in today, the only way we can make sense of what to do and how to negotiate this tough time is by listening to people who have gone through challenges themselves.
And Kiran is no stranger to that. Having started the biotechnology company in 1978 literally from her garage with a seed capital of Rs 10,000 at a time when there were hardly any or no women in this field, Kiran has taken the company, with a net worth of $ 3.1 billion now, to new heights in the face of many challenges.
I ask her for her advice to startups and small businesses that are getting badly affected following the lockdown. Here’s what Kiran had to say:
“I’ve always told entrepreneurs, you must have a purpose in what you are pursuing and if yours is something that is meaningful, something you value, something that will make an impact, I think you will succeed.”
“Don’t do it for money, because money will follow. Do it because it makes a difference,” she adds.
Watch the full interview here:
She gives the example of MyLab that is in the news now for developing low cost PCR kits for COVID-19 detection. “At one time, they were struggling. But the crisis has actually made them into heroes.” They have been developing diagnostics for many other viral diseases.
“We need to have faith in our own capabilities. We keep looking outside for answers when we have those indigenously and locally available. So we must start building that confidence, that self sufficiency.”
“And I think we need to build a new economy. This new economy is going to be a very different economy in the world. You can see that virtual economies are being tested today. They were overvalued, and as a result, real businesses were undervalued. Now is the time to build that equilibrium. And this is, I think, the time for building that equilibrium in our lives, in our businesses, in the economy.”
How Biocon is contributing to relief measures
One real concern today is the need to increase COVID-19 testing. “Many of us in the biotech sector are trying to do whatever we can to increase the supply of kits and testing. Then there is this whole aspect of can we develop a vaccine in India? And can we develop a cocktail of drugs to treat patients? So I think there is a lot of work to be done there. But over and above that, of course, companies like Biocon are also reaching out to the ventilator manufacturers. We would like to basically support the production of protective equipment for health personnel,” she tells me.
Apart from that, Kiran says she is also involved in and would like to support humanitarian tasks of feeding the poor.
“This is a solidarity of people coming together. This is a collective fight against an invisible enemy. It has brought us all together. I think this is going to bring back humanity and humility into the way we go about our lives. We are not invincible. I think this hubris and arrogance of ours has been brought to its knees.”