Apart from a doctor, nurse, and surgical instruments, what is the most important element for an operation? It is the most indispensable, yet obscure, sutures.
A small Bengaluru-based company, which was founded 25 years ago with a few lakhs rupees, tapped the unexplored sutures market in India and became so big over the years that it was sold at a price of around Rs 20 billion ($350 million) to private equity firm Apax Partners.
Healthium MedTech (formerly known as Sutures India), one of the biggest Indian surgical instruments companies which was until recently headed by its founder L G Chandrasekhar, was sold to London-based Apax Partners on this Friday.
Chandrasekhar was earlier working in Mumbai for Smith & Nephew, a British-based multinational medical equipment manufacturing company. Loaded with experience in the medical devices field, Chandrasekhar thought of starting his own firm in 1980s. He then moved to Bengaluru to set up the sutures start-up in 1992 with friend S Subramanian, who was had earlier worked with Johnson & Johnson and later became the managing director of Sutures India.
With their experience in the field and vision to make reasonable synthetic sutures available to all, the company was set up from a fund comprising Chandrasekhar father’s savings and a few lakhs from Wipro Finance.
“We wanted to disrupt the Johnson & Johnson model in India which had a monopoly in the market during that time,” said Chandrasekhar.
Today, Healthium MedTech exports products across 91 countries in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia. The company, besides surgical sutures, manufactures meshes, gloves, surgical paper tapes, and catheters.
Apart from heading the medical devices company, Chandrasekhar is also an avid angel investor. He has so far invested in three diverse start-ups, namely VideoKen, a video-based social learning platform; Homergize, a one-stop marketplace for building materials, and WickedRide, a bike rental start-up.
The family investment office of Chandrasekhar had in November last year invested Rs 100 million in the luxury bike-sharing company, WickedRide, according to a media report. After the investment, the Bengaluru-based start-up was valued at Rs 700 million.
Chandrasekhar said he is a major stakeholder in Hatti Kaapi, a South Indian filter coffee chain based out of Bengaluru. He has also invested in ed-tech start-up ScienceHoppers.
Chandrasekhar is also an advocate of sustainable development. He is an active member of a group called Sustainable Social Responsibility which exchanges practices and visions, with an eye to business ethics and values that emphasise a ‘we’ focus. He runs two schools, one in Bengaluru and another one in Gaya, under the Vidyadaan banner, which provide free education to the underprivileged children.
As Chandrasekhar’s Healthium MedTech chapter ends, he will now be looking at acquisition opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector while continuing to be an angel investor.