We are pleased to introduce Vikrama N. Prabhu, a brilliant prodigy of IIT-Kharagpur and a Co-founder of Rubizon Private Limited, Bangalore, India. Rubizon, his dream venture, is endeavoring to be the leading biotechnology startup in the health care sector. He completed his master’s in Technology, Biotechnology, and Biochemical Engineering from IIT-Kharagpur and undergraduate in Engineering, Biotechnology from RV college of engineering. He went on to work with one of the leading biotechnology companies of the country BIOCON as a Principal Scientist. His passion for science, his sense of freedom, and his ability to work at “own terms” made him incubate “RUBIZON PVT LTD” in the year 2018. The company provides a Quality by Design (QbD) approach, which helps pharma companies design and validate their drugs according to the ICH and Indian Regulatory laws. His keenness to learn, determination to win, and passion for science make him different. an eminent face in Indian pharma industry. In this interview with Bio Patrika, Vikrama talks in depth about his entrepreneurship journey.
Tell us about yourself.
I am the co-founder of Rubizon, an innovative biotechnology startup from Bangalore, developing healthcare products for India. I love mathematics and biochemistry. I always believe in learning new things, primarily which are not related to my core field. I will be ruthless to people who give reasons for not doing things. I like people who take swift decisions and act sensibly.
What was your original career goal, whether as a kid or right out of school?
I wanted to start a hotel chain selling masala dosa and coffee. And I did that but failed miserably.
What was it about a career in healthcare and pharma that appealed to you?
I was fascinated to see how genetic engineering saving lives. My father used to buy shares from Biocon, and every year we used to get an excellent colour annual report. As a child I was fascinated to see the neatly arranged and multi-colored bottles of medicines in the annual report. Thanks to my father, who always supported me, saying ‘do something most of us are not doing. During 2005, there was this news about the ‘biotech boom’ which I wanted to be a part of and steered my career towards it. Honestly, I still don’t know what is ‘biotech boom’.
What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
All members of my family are entrepreneurs or self-employed one or the other way. But I never wanted to become an entrepreneur but just wanted to have freedom at work. Freedom is about not doing things that you don’t want rather than doing something which you want.
How did you come up with the name for your company?
Do you know the most abundant protein on earth? It’s RUBISCO! During the initial days, we were working on developing a purification process for RUBISCO from plant biomass. We wanted to name our company after RUBISCO with a fancy counter-part. ‘Rubizon’ was hence born.
How do you think Quality by Design solutions would help the Indian Pharma industry?
QbD is a systematic approach used in manufacturing to deliver a quality product consistently focusing on customer satisfaction/safety. Nowadays, regulated markets prefer companies to manufacture their drugs with QbD in place.
|With history and developmental knowledge||Process development based on risk management tools (Ex: Ishikawa, Cause & Effect, FMEA)|
|Single variable approaches without much emphasis on interaction||Predictive relationships between process parameters and product quality attribute using statistically designed experiments|
|Only with empirical experience and precedence||Design space in place for scales and process|
|End product testing||Rational control strategy with precise control points to ensure product quality|
|Based on definite full-scale batches with end product tested||Process Validation (PV) with Continuous Process Verification (CPV)|
Can you tell us about the recently launched product QDROPZ?
We live in the 21st Century, where lifestyle diseases are surging, immunity disorders raising, and now the world is amidst of a once in a century pandemic. Fitness & health has become the No.1 priority for all now. But still, we continue to neglect one of the critical aspects of our daily life: the fruits & veggies we eat. Research organizations have demonstrated high levels of pesticide residues on almost all fruits & veggies. When we consume them regularly, this accumulates in our body and would become the root cause for many diseases such as Alzheimer’s, nervous breakdown, and also Diabetes. The hard part is, we are aware but still ignorant about this!
But now, we have a simple solution, which is QDROPZ. It effectively removes pesticides, germs, and viruses from the surface of fruits & Vegetables.
QDROPZ contains 100% food-grade ingredients. It’s made from natural and naturally derived materials such as coconut oil, lemongrass, and natural salts. QDROPZ is tested across accredited labs in India and is safe for all. You will visually see the difference once you use QDROPZ on grapes. We have made several YouTube videos regarding ‘how to wash vegetables using QDROPZ,’ which is easy and straightforward. The most crucial factor is that it’s designed for kitchens and our pricings are quite affordable, at just Rs. 190.
Good decisions come from bad experiences.
What were the most important, funny, or weird things you have learned over the course of your career?
Important: I feel, quality of education is dropping in India. Whenever we talk to candidates, all talk about their marks/GPA. Nobody is comfortable explaining even the most straightforward lab calculations. Hence, at Rubizon, we decided we shall not seek anybody’s degree for any position instead, and only ‘skills’ will be sought.
Funny: Parents don’t pressurize/advise their children about the importance of professionalism, skills and sensibility during their entire education. But, they pressurize them to seek for high salary jobs as soon as they complete education! Not funny?
Weird: Students happily spend Rs. 300 for a 2-hour movie, which will not help in any way to earn a rupee for them, but they think a lot to pay the same money to learn a professional skill which makes them capable of earning.
Who were your inspirations and mentors, both professionally and personally?
I am Inspiring by My family, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Spider Mand & Iron Man!
I also salute a few of my mentors: Mr Suryanarayana A and Mr Anand Khedkar, from whom I have learnt a lot about business and operations.
Looking back, are there any career moves or decisions you’ve made for which you’d like a second chance, so to speak?
I don’t think so. Whatever I am today, it’s because of all of my decisions and moves I have taken in the past. Good decisions come from bad experiences.
What would you do if you didn’t do what you do for a living?
I definitely would open a veg restaurant on a beachside road.
What is something your peers don’t know about you?
I am an angry man from inside.
What’s something unique you keep on or around your workspace?
What were your greatest professional challenges along the way, and how did you get past them?
When we started Rubizon, we had no goal of what exactly to do. We were trying many things to survive but not focused. We spent all our money and energy on developing services which we had no control. Soon we realized, it will take a lifetime effort to be good in a ‘niche’ area, and from then, we have never deviated. Rubizon now focuses only on its core strength, which is ‘Downstream process’. Our entire product and service portfolio now will be built on this foundation. Concentrate on one thing in your entire life and that would make you a ‘gem’ in that field, which is a fair deal.
Working in leadership roles in the pharma industry is often tiring and leaves you burned out. What would you do to revitalize your energy?
- Improve on communication: Just talk to relevant stakeholders
- Initiation: Start working rather than just thinking
- Learning: Always improve your knowledge. Keep learning. It’s never-ending.
- What’s one thing about pharma and healthcare you’d change if given a chance?
With the advent of AI and ML usage of data science in all sectors of pharma and health would play a pivotal role. And I am a big advocate for it as it is currently lacking in majority of the companies here.
What piece of advice would you give to others who want to become entrepreneurs?
- Check on ‘market need’; Don’t be sentimental about the technology you know rather work on a technology that world needs.
- Build a ‘team’, without which you are nothing
- Understand ‘competition’, respect them and be 10x better
- Work Hard. Work Smart. Whatever. But take actions.
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Written by: Vikrama N Prabhu
Edited by: Dolly Singh and Kshipra