Updated on 15 March 2013
Dr Saleem Mohammad, founder, XCode Life Sciences, India (winner of the BioSpectrum Asia Pacific Awards 2013 award in the Emerging Company of the Year 2013 category)
Dr Saleem Mohammad, who founded XCode Life Sciences in December 2010, first had the idea of starting this company while he was pursuing his PhD in Bioinformatics from the University of Nebraska, US.
"(There was) Cutting-edge research, committed researchers around me working for the love of science and the thirst of knowledge at a leading academic set up- it is easy for anyone to get an idea in this buzzing atmosphere," he says. "On the one hand, science was trying to catch up with nature in leaps and bounds with the whole genome sequencing in 2003, and on the other hand I discovered that my mother was diagnosed with diabetes. It was the first lifestyle-related disease that someone close to me was affected with. I suddenly became interested in my own health. That's when the idea really took some shape."
When he could not find a single organization in India that analyzed an individual's risk to diabetes, it further inspired him to follow up his idea with action. He already had the educational background and access to latest scientific understanding of genetics to back him up.
It took six months to develop the technology. The company was incubated at Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) in Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India, where it was provided with space, infrastructure and opportunity to raise government funding worth $11,600 (Rs 6.25 lakh). The company then raised two rounds of angel investments of $200,000 each in 2011.
"Our technology was in a niche that required understanding of genetics as well as use of information technology, so it was challenging. Transforming the technology into a marketable product was the next challenge," says Dr Mohammad. The big break for him came when the second founder and investor, Mr R Narayanan, joined him. The company launched its first product, LifeLong Wellness Kit, in June 2012. This is when it received a second round of funding worth $250,000 (Rs 1 crore).