- Ratan Tata has invested in ‘Generic Aadhar,’ a unique pharmacy retail chain launched by 18-year-old Arjun Deshpande from Mumbai.
Ratan Tata has invested in ‘Generic Aadhar,’ a unique pharmacy retail chain launched by 18-year-old Arjun Deshpande from Mumbai. Unlike other online pharmacies, Aadhar Generic sells medications at much lower rates than the retail level.
Deshpande confirmed the transaction but declined to disclose the sum of the contract. He said the company tycoon listened to his idea 3-4 months ago with great interest. Tata was involved in running the company with a partner and mentoring him.
Sources said the investment was made at a personal level by Ratan Tata and was not related to the Tata Group. In the past, Ratan Tata has invested in several startups including Ola, Paytm, Snapdeal, CureFit, Lenskart, Urban Ladder, and Lybrate.
Two years ago Deshpande started Generic Aadhar. It now boasts annual revenue from Rs 6 Crore. The startup follows the particular business model of a pharmacy-aggregator. It directly imports generic drugs from suppliers and markets them to retail stores, reducing the wholesaler margin of 16-20 percent.
Around 30 Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, and Odisha retailers form part of the chain and follow a profit-sharing model. These are primarily independent pharmacies that have found it hard to cope with intense competition from existing drug stores and online pharmacies.
The stores are given a free face-lift with the branding, logo, and necessary IT infrastructure of Generic Aadhar with ties to the Thane head office. Aadhar Generic has about 55 staff, including pharmacists, IT engineers, and marketers.
“In a year, 1,000 small franchisee medical shops will be located under the Generic Aadhar fold and extended to the rest of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu
The business primarily supplies diabetes and hypertension medicines but will soon start selling cancer drugs at much lower prices than the retail level. It has a tie-up with four manufacturers accredited by WHO-GMP in Palghar, Ahmedabad, Pondicherry, and Nagpur. A producer in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh can procure cancer drugs.
Deshpande had begun the company with support from his parents who are running their company. His mother operates a pharmaceutical distribution company that sells drugs in foreign markets, and the father runs a travel agency.
The young entrepreneur claims he got the business idea while traveling to the US, Dubai and a few other countries to attend pharmaceutical trade events with his mother during summer vacation. “India offers generic medicines to the world, and the margins are much smaller in many of those countries than they are in India,” he says.
A leading owner of the retail chain had also expressed interest in picking up a stake in Generic Aadhar a year ago, but it was not successful. Last year Deshpande, also a student at a Mumbai college, was shortlisted for Silicon Valley’s Thiel Fellowship, a two-year program for youth who want to create new businesses.
The government has sought to get all of the necessary medicines under price regulation in the last few years. Approximately 80 percent of the drugs sold in the country, including more than 50,000 brands, are outside price controls and enjoy margins of about 30 percent-20 percent for retailers and 10 percent for wholesalers. In markets such as cancer and cardiovascular drugs, the margins are also higher for premium marketed goods.