A private equity firm picks up a minority stake in a company worth more than Rs 700 crore for Rs 190 crore. In the world of business, this may seem like any other deal. But for Dr A Velumani it is a big deal.
Velumani entered the big league on Friday when Delhi-based private equity firm CX Partners picked up a 25% stake in his company, Thyrocare Technologies.
The son of a landless farmer, Velumani, 51, has come a long way: from being the first graduate from his village, Appanickenpatti Pudur, near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, to setting up Thyrocare in 1996 with a modest capital investment of Rs 1 lakh.
"All I wanted was to run a laboratory that would benefit the common man. Today, I see this as an opportunity to reach more of them in a better way," Velumani said.
It wasn't an easy ride. He did odd jobs and scholarships funded his education. While in college in Coimbatore, he lived in a hostel for Dalits, where food and accommodation were free.
For four years after his graduation, Velumani could not find a job. He decided to move to Mumbai where he joined the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. "That was the turning point in my life."
He completed his master's and got a Phd in thyroid chemistry from Tata Memorial Hospital in Parel, while he worked. On his way to Tata, he would see patients waiting outside hospitals for hours and decided to do something about it.
After 14 years at BARC, he quit and decided to venture into medical diagnostics. All he had was provident fund savings of Rs 1 lakh. "I am not a doctor so I decided to start a low-cost medical diagnosis centre," he said.
He launched Thyrocare, which offered low-cost thyroid testing facilities. The small laboratory grew into a network of 570 franchisees, 10,000 service centres and 25,000 collection points.
People who work with Velumani say he is not a typical businessman. "He is more like a scientist who has been asked to run a business that can help people but also make some profit," said a senior company official.