Uncontrollable bleeding is a chief killer in battlefields. Almost 50% of the infantrymen who have died, so far, died because of bleeding and about 30% of those had been preventable deaths. The international over, militaries have made efforts to construct products that ensure humans don’t die because of bleeding. But India turned into lagging at the back of.
That become – till one man decided to exchange the statistic. What brought about this was now not his tryst with the navy however with some other rampant killer in India – street injuries, in which once more 40% of deaths are due to bleeding out.
It was in 2006, whilst Leo S. Mavely, a bio-engineering student commuting among South Delhi and Central Delhi witnessed a avenue accident that might dictate his destiny like no other. A motorbike commuter were hit by using a bus near Apollo clinic and lay profusely bleeding.
Leo reminisces, “Someone took him to the side and I helped him. But inside short time, the region was empty. I became looking to get him to the Apollo Hospital which changed into infrequently a kilometre away. He was bleeding profusely and I could do not anything. I actually felt this helplessness that I had not anything in my hand to control it – to stabilise him immediately.”
All Leo ought to do became wrap the wound with his jacket to stem blood waft however it changed into soon saturated with his blood. Luckily for the sufferer, Leo controlled to get him to the hospital as the sufferer survived. But what additionally survived with Leo became that feeling of helplessness he had felt while the man’s existence hung within the balance.
“That incident stayed with me. So when I began looking at initiatives on the NirmaLabs incubator, I puzzled why we can’t develop a product that can straight away stop bleeding so that a affected person can at the least get few extra hours of a risk to live to tell the tale. The time, known as the golden hour in road injuries, may be very essential as it still takes an ambulance 30-forty mins in an urban setting and an hour or more in rural settings to attain the sufferer.”
And that’s how Leo’s destiny as an entrepreneur became sealed. He changed into running on biopolymer-based gadgets for the duration of his university diploma’s final yr, he determined to take unique permission to paintings on the NirmaLabs Incubator in Ahmedabad to pursue his search for the appropriate product for a hemostat (blood drift stancher) in 2008.
Thus, Axio Biosolutions became born.
When Leo began it as a university venture, he realised that the advanced wound care space had a lot of capability but very few merchandise. “The idea was to build out a product platform based on a generation i.E. Biomaterials generation.” For the first few years, Leo and his team constructed out the muse, were given the medical research happening. So it stayed in stealth mode until 2014.
The startup makes use of a natural biomaterial referred to as Chitosan, extracted from shellfish, to make a sponge-like dressing that prevents bleeding within mins. After the technology were given approval in India in 2011, it brought out the primary line of merchandise in India which can stop uncontrollable haemorrhage. Post that, in 2014, it acquired European clearances.
Axio decided to hit the market in a big manner, thereon.
Hence, the employer moved out of the incubator to set up its very own production facility closing yr. It launched with the Indian Defence Forces and for ultimate years, via 1/3-birthday party manufacturing and has been supplying to all the Indian militia – BSF, NSG, and CRPF. It has come to be greater of a general product in first aid kits after they cross for any operation.
Thus, Axiostat has become the primary product from India to cope with this want. And although the problem of dying because of haemorrhage on the battlefield is doubtlessly large, Leo and his crew are slowly changing that.
Leo attributes windfall as to how he alighted upon the polymer Chitosan for making Axiostat. When the group turned into searching at different materials for manufacturing, he stumbled upon Chitosan and selected it. Interestingly, numerous attention got here to the cloth on the identical time Leo turned into engaging in his research, and now it has become a subject of hobby in loads of academic institutions.
“We have been form of fortunate to paintings on that cloth early on. It changed into a flexible fabric and it had lots of houses which we may want to manoeuvre around,” says Leo.
As a polymer, Chitosan is derived particularly from shellfish and is surprisingly undoubtedly-charged. So, you will make it extra fantastic or in other phrases boom its electric density. It reacts with blood, which is by and large negatively charged platelets. Whereas RBCs convey a internet poor price. So the team utilised this belongings to develop a hemostat or the enterprise’s first product Axiostat.
Axiostat is sort of a dry sponge however when carried out with stress on a bleeding wound, it right away starts sticking to blood like fevicol due to price-based totally adhesion. It clots the blood round itself. So if it's miles a profusely bleeding wound, it seals the vessel via an motion of compression. It stays there for 48 hours if it is not eliminated.
To remove it, you possibly can follow water or saline answer into it and the material turns itself into a gel which can be easily washed off. In addition, it additionally has antibacterial residences. The fabric is likewise utilized by america army. It has advanced a reputation over the years as a biocompatible fabric proper now.
70 Battalions On Board, 150K Units Shipped
Leo piloted the product for some time earlier than swinging into enterprise given it changed into a brand new product and his intention is to stay for the long term. So beginning with the Indian military, Axiostat is now utilized by nearly 70 battalions. Additionally, it's far supplied to major hospitals like Apollo, St John’s, Manipal, Breach Candy, Fortis and others. Besides, the team additionally works with positive public hospitals and government’s public fitness initiatives.
While Leo did now not divulge sales, the startup has an mounted production ability of 250K devices inside the Ahmedabad unit, with expandable capability going as much as 5 Mn devices a year. So some distance, it claims to have shipped approximately 150K units and has a presence in round 8 states in India and approximately 10 nations. Last year, it made inroads into the United Kingdom and this year, it has launched within the Middle East in a major manner.
The variety of merchandise varies – from the ones for emergency use to the ones especially designed for the military, or for cardiovascular operations, or in dentistry. The in step with unit fee varies from approximately INR 60 to INR 3,000 relying on which market it is meant for. The bigger sizes, which go to the army, are within the variety of INR 2,000-INR 2,500.
In the pipeline are plans to introduce those merchandise in faculties, faculties, and ambulances, via a street kit called the ASK Kit – Advanced Stop bleeding Kit.
Explains Leo, “It is a new initiative to introduce it to families. We don’t sell it via pharmacies yet, but we're working on that through companions along with providers to hospitals, colleges, ambulances, and industries, and many others. We anticipate this product to return into retail in a couple of years however it still will make an effort, on the grounds that there aren't any advanced wound care merchandise within the Indian marketplace. So, it is going to be a little too early to introduce in pharmacies.”
On the funding facet, it has raised Seed capital in 2010 from Ahmedabad-based totally undertaking capital company GVFL and an undisclosed quantity is its Series A funding final 12 months from Accel Partners and IDG Ventures. Its team now incorporates 50 humans unfold throughout Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, and its sales team in the rest of India.
The Challenge Of Building An Indian Brand
Surprisingly, while investment changed into no longer a task for Leo, what became greater tough changed into locating his manner through the bushy regulatory community.
“In India, there are not any clean clinical device rules which you'll follow. So we had been compelled to examine US FDA and European Union rules and comply with that and anticipate that Indian government will receive it. This big loss of readability in terms of approval and shortage of an expert to guide us had been important demanding situations back then whilst we started out in 2008. The state of affairs has truly progressed quite a piece now from that time,” he explains.
Another essential undertaking changed into the no longer so splendid belief of India as a brand. He explains,
“When we go overseas or maybe in Indian markets, the medical doctors constantly look as much as products developed outdoor. This perception is converting slowly however when we deal with life-saving merchandise, it's miles constantly essential to build out a emblem. That’s the reason why we have spent pretty a chunk of time and money in constructing clinical endorsements. It would had been tons less difficult if we had any competitor to look up to from India as a emblem in medical tool products.”
Additionally, there have been procurement related hiccups. Government procurement, specially the tenders, are heavily skewed towards the incumbent organizations. It takes plenty of persuasion to break into the main tenders, which acts as a main access barrier for startups.
Nevertheless, there were additionally memorable milestones along the manner which made the adventure well worth the wait.
And one in all them changed into touchdown the Indian Armed Forces (IAF) as a client. Recounts Leo, “A lot of humans discouraged us that they (IAF) don’t buy Indian merchandise or the ones synthetic by startups. But we are one of the few startups that may promote to them and make money. It gave us quite a few confidence and popularity because a product that may paintings with the Indian defense force, inside the discipline, gave numerous confidence to docs as well.”
Another milestone changed into the circulate to Bengaluru which aided quicker growth. Developing an awesome team quick was vital and Axios’ cutting-edge set of traders additionally helped in building sufficient traction quickly. Says Leo,
“The move helped us to show ourselves quickly from a producer into a emblem. In the early degree, I was now not keen on doing so fast, however I realised that a whole lot of corporations live in that bracket for a long time period in India where they are happy with their manufacturing and small margins. But we wanted to build a emblem.”
And it's miles that perception of building a logo changed the entire DNA of the enterprise.
A Global Hemostatic Market Worth $3 Bn
Leo claims that Axio is developing round 3x according to 12 months and this figure coul leapfrog to almost double, next yr. His notion stems from the truth that globally hemostatic market is set $3 Bn. A file by Research and Markets (Hemostat Market: India Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment 2016-2025) also concludes that the haemostat marketplace is predicted to register a CAGR of five.8% from 2016 to 2025. India is set 10-15% of that market.
As according to Leo, the product has a ability to hit $400 Mn-$500 Mn in the Indian marketplace and the startup’s approach is to get a pie of that market within the coming years. What also enables it, is the reality that whilst globally there are comparable merchandise simply as QuickClot and Celox, evolved with the aid of the US Army – in India, now not many have heard the idea of hemostats.
He in addition adds, “Globally only three-four companies have attempted to do what we're doing. We are the probably the fourth/5th business enterprise which has constructed a product pipeline for controlling bleeding in trauma. In India, we're very focussed on making this because the first intervention to bleeding. People ought to be looking at our products similar to they are saying Xerox for photocopying.”
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Thus, the concept is to goal any and each discipline where there are common bleeding risks. Hence, the startup does no longer want to restriction itself to hospitals on my own –from battlefields, to industries, and at some point of time, it targets to enter families. As the industry grows and the market matures, the idea is to be to be had at pharmacies. Which Leo explains is extra a distribution sport.
He provides, “There’s differentiation among B2B product and B2C product. When we look at the marketplace we see an possibility but the rate points are nonetheless no longer appealing. You need to invest in constructing marketing and advertising and marketing. It is a touch bit challenging to go to B2C at once for the reason that we're building a brand new platform altogether. We have already got a vast marketplace in B2B. Once we are established in B2B, it will be easier to enter B2C.”
In the pipeline are also plans to construct the emblem in this kind of way if you want to hit the market with an IPO inside the subsequent five years. The startup can also introduce this product in pharmacies overseas in advance because the charge points are an awful lot extra appealing over there. Leo explains that proper now, in India, there could be a right away contrast with the lower priced Band-Aid, therefore he has made a strategic preference to paste to completely B2B in the mean time.
There isn't any denying the truth that Axio has a large first-mover benefit, as a long way because the Indian markets are involved. While Axio has cemented its popularity by using landing the Indian Army as a main consumer, how without difficulty and how soon it can make inroads in the B2C markets will decide its subsequent wave of success. Given the reality that India has a depressing report as some distance as street safety is worried, appear more a need in preference to a luxury to deliver down the excessive mortality fee in road accidents.