When you have to get a medical test done, what comes to your mind? “I am booking an appointment with Thyrocare!” Right? But do you think this one facility that has brought medical tests to your doorstep was just as easy as it seems to be? Well, no, for Dr. Arokiaswamy Velumani, this was his dream, which by no means was achieved easily.
Everyone dreams big, but very few walk on the path of fulfilling their dreams and fewer achieve them. Dr. Arokiaswany Velumani left his comfortable government job to pursue his dreams and established Thyrocare Technologies.
From being a son of a landless farmer in a small village named Appanaickenpatti in Tamil Nadu to owning a business net worth Rs. 3300 crore, his journey to success has been incredible and definitely, it was not a bed of roses for him. His roller coaster ride to success is truly an inspiration.
Born in 1959 to a landless farmer in a small village Appanaienpatti Pudur, in Tamil Nadu, Dr. A Velumani had a difficult childhood. His father gave up on leading his family at an early age due to the disparity of not being able to cope up with the never-ending problems. Subsequently, his mother took charge of the family and earned a living of Rs. 50 per week. She invested in two buffaloes and the milk sold from these two buffaloes gave this family with four children bread.
Dr. Velumani completed his schooling from a government school, where they were served with the mid-day meal, ensuring that he and his siblings were provided with one-time food guaranteed. However, for Vellumani, poverty did not matter. He was content with what he had because he saw people who were poorer than him.
After schooling, Dr. Velumani left his village to pursue further studies. He had to move away from the family, for his village did not have a proper transport system nor a college to study further.
We all go to college to pursue our studies, but for Dr. Velumani, he went to college to find a fair-toned bride. He is often seen quoting that only boys who were graduates would get to marry a fair-skinned girl in his village. So he pursued his graduation.
Finally, in 1978, he completed his BSc. Now he had a new challenge - employment.
Finding a Decent Job
Back then, finding a job was a difficult task. Despite being a graduate, Dr. A Velumani found it very difficult to find a decent job for himself. He had two biggest challenges. Every firm he applied to asked for his experience and second, everyone expected him to master the English Language. This is the biggest reason for him to recruit freshers in Thyrocare.
Finally, after a series of interviews in more than two dozen firms, he got a job at a capsule-making company at Rs. 150 per month. Out of this nominal income, he kept Rs. 50 for himself and sent the remaining salary home to his parents. However, deep inside, he was not satisfied with what he was doing.
A few years later, he applied for a job at Bhabha Atomic Centre, Mumbai. His application was accepted and he got a job of Rs. 880 per month here.
Working with the Government
When you hear of government jobs, one thing strikes your mind, i.e., stability. Your retirement is now secured. An eight-hour job, with minimum pressure, air-conditioned offices, this was the job anyone would have dreamt of.
This was the time when he had to lie to his mother about his salary. He said in an interview that his mother would not have allowed him to move to Mumbai for a mere salary of Rs. 880. Therefore in order to grab this opportunity, he lied to his mother that his salary was Rs. 1200 per month. This is how Dr. Velumani came to Mumbai and started a government job.
When Dr. Velumani was 27, his father-in-law came up to him with the proposal of his daughter Sumathi. She was a banker who earned Rs, 1600 per month. Though this was not love at first sight, Dr. Velumani agreed to meet her at her office. After an hour-long discussion, the girl agreed to the wedding.
Dr. Velumani started his Ph.D. in thyroid biochemistry while working with the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai. This opened new doors of minting money for him. While working on his Ph.D., he saw people standing in long queues to get their tests done in hospitals. He wanted to help those people and get the relatives of the patients some comfort. But, he was medically not a doctor. Therefore, he decided to help them with the diagnostics.
He thought about why not let people have their samples collected from their homes themselves. This will save the patients and their relatives time from standing in long queues for hours together. This is how the concept of Thyrocare came to his mind.
At 2 am one morning, he announced to his wife that he had quit his job to pursue his dreams. She took the news quite sportingly and left her banking job to stand by her husband's dreams, and they began working towards achieving their goals. His dream thus took shape and Thyrocare was launched in 1996.
Dr. Velumani calculated that at any point of the day, 10 percent of the Indian population requires medical assistance in one way or the other. Of this 10 percent, only one percent are acutely ill. The other laboratories are focusing only on the one percent acutely sick patients. The other 9 percent are not properly catered to, so far as diagnostics is concerned.
He realized that by reaching this 9 percent, he could get volume. He needed volume to provide top-quality diagnostics facilities at lower costs. This could be possible only through proper logistics. So, to reach more people, he worked on the franchise model. To take the Thyrocare franchise, you only need a computer and an internet connection. The test results are received on emails and then sent to the respective patient’s email address or mobile number.
Since its establishment in 1996, Thyrocare Technologies has spread its wings and has around 3300 odd collection centers throughout the country and Nepal, Bangladesh, and the Middle East. It is one of the top diagnostic solution centers and conducts approximately 110 million tests in a year. During the Covid 19 pandemic, the company has processed close to 35,000 cases every day.
The turnover of the company is approximately Rs. 3300 crore, whose basic investment was Rs 2 lakh during its formation.
The Big Blow
While the company continues to remain a paramedic giant, Dr. Vellumani suffered an irreparable personal loss in 2016. His wife succumbed to pancreatic cancer shaking the pillars of his life. This happened a few months before the company made its first public offering.
He was quoted stating that his wife was the pillar of Thyrocare. Without her, this entire concept would not have been possible. This was more about her than about him.
Dr. Velumani has a son and a daughter. After the sad demise of his wife, he left the company’s work in the hands of his children. However, he felt that they were not dreamers but only managers. He did not find it best to run the company the way they did.
In February 2021, Pharmeasy, a six-year-old startup, acquired a 66.1 % stake in Thyrocare, making it one of the best deals for them. This deal was closed in just a span of one month.
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