Often it is the circumstances that nudge people to do something different in their lives and change the situations they face. There are plenty of stories of people who have started from scratch and struggled to reach the top. But the other wonderful kind are those who tried to do something different purely because they felt the pain of the marginalized and found out a way to solve their problems. They carve a name for themselves by helping millions.
The founder of India’s well-known pharmaceutical company Lupin Limited Dr Desh Bandhu Gupta is one such personality. In the year 1968 when he started his venture with a small capital of Rs 5,000, he did not even know that in the coming years his company would be one of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world.
Gupta was born and brought up in a middle-class family in Rajgarh, Rajasthan.
He explains – My father always wanted that I should secure the first place in school exams. There was no option for me of securing second place.
This pressure benefited him a lot in his initial school days. At just 20, he started studying for his masters degree after getting a special permission to get admission in the course. Although his father encouraged him to pursue his masters in the field of agriculture, Gupta always had a keen interest in chemistry and opted for a doctorate in chemistry. After completing the studies, he started his career as an associate professor at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani.
During that period, India was a young nation. India was in search for young talented individuals to build the nation. Gupta wanted to serve the nation. So he applied for a resident teacher post in the chemical engineering department of the Indian Army. Unfortunately, he was rejected.
After this Gupta went to Mumbai and started working in a British pharmaceutical company May & Baker. He realized that it was necessary that the essential drugs were provided at a cheaper rate in the market so that majority of the general population can afford them. Gupta saw that most of the poor people were unable to buy expensive medicines available in the market. In the end, he decided to open a pharmaceutical company by himself.
In 1968, he laid the foundation stone for Lupin Pharmaceuticals from his own savings of Rs 5,000. Gupta says that his venture was both exciting as well as challenging. “When I started, there was one employee cum-peon and a part-time typist with us, but today it has taken the form of a leading pharmaceutical company with the valuation of Rs 65,000 crores having an establishment in more than 100 countries.
The initial days were full of challenges and difficulties as in those days it was not very easy to invest in new business and acquire venture capital funds. Things like private equity were quite unheard of. To understand the whereabouts of business and working of fundings, he met with several bankers and got some good tried-and-tested business ideas. Gupta was fortunate to meet some good associates and then he set up a small plant to initiate his dream company Lupin Pharmaceuticals. Gupta started working on life-saving medicines which were of highest social priority but other companies were not paying much attention in producing them.
Dr Gupta explains – No major pharmaceutical companies showed any interest in developing TB drugs as the profit was very less. But we had given special emphasis on the production of good TB drugs.
Initially, most of the competitors of Lupin Pharmaceuticals were the MNCs who used to supply medicines at a high cost. The common people could not afford these medicines. And at that time, no Indian pharmaceutical companies were working extensively.
Keeping all these things in mind, Lupin showed more interest in making those products which had high market demand. But they made sure that their products were cost effective and of high quality. Soon in only a few years, Lupin became one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the country while delivering the necessary medicines at affordable rates. While entering the Japanese market in 2007, Lupin also acquired a large Japanese pharmaceutical company named Kyowa.
From the viewpoint of social welfare, Gupta also started Lupin Human Welfare and Research Foundation. It was established with the aim of creating a sustainable rural development model for upliftment of families living below the poverty line in rural India. It is one of the largest non-governmental organizations funded by the corporate in Southeast Asia.
Today, Dr Gupta is regarded as one the most influential entrepreneurs of the country. His journey of becoming a world renowned pharma-tycoon starting from scratch with limited resources is very inspiring for the current generation.