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Entrepreneurs with a Social mission – Indian startups that are fighting cancer

ET Bureau, June 28, 2016

By Divya Rajgopal

Perfint Healthcare
Area: Robotic device that detects and removes cancerous tumours
Founders: NANDAKUMAR S, GURUSWAMY K AND PUHAZHENDI K
Investors: Accel, Innoven, IDG, Norwest Venture Partners Location Chennai

'Nobody is using robotics the way we do'

More than a decade ago, three former colleagues of GE who quit their jobs in healthcare met in Chennai. As it happens on such occasions, the meeting was replete with nostalgia about the good old days. The discussion soon veered to the buzzing startup scene in India. Nandakumar S, Guruswamy K, and Puhazhendi K had moved to different paths in finance, technology and automobiles but were connected by one core idea — design and product development.

They decided to float a R&D servicing company in 2005, specifically in the area of medical diagnostics. The founders wanted their company to be the Infosys in healthcare technology. Perfint started as an engineering and advisory firm, helping companies make surgical machines.


But when the first seed funding came through by Accel Partners, Perfint decided to make machines themselves on the advice of the investor. The outcome was India's first robotic navigation solution for treating painful tumour surgeries.

"Nobody is really using robotics the way we do for guiding therapy," says Nandakumar S. "Patient specific treatment plan will be, in a way, a part of personalised healthcare in the future", he explains.

Perfint's robotic device — branded as Maxio — creates a patient specific treatment plan and then guides the physician to precisely place multiple needles during complex, minimally invasive interventional treatment of multiple tumours. The device guides physicians minimise residual tumour and recurrence while minimising needle manipulations, pain, radiation exposure and procedure time.

Puhazhendi says the three co-founders were part of various teams that had developed products for GE for the Indian and the global markets. "So that gave us the confidence to create products under the new company. We could have remained a product services company, but there was more fun to be part of product creation."

Since 2008, Perfint has sold over 100 devices in various parts of the world. Around 10,000 surgeries have been performed using their device. With a growth rate of nearly 50%, the team hopes to be profitable by this financial year. But Nandakumar is not pleased with the revenue growth. He says cancer patients are largely treated by the public health care systems, given the high cost of cancer care, but the government's purchase systems, despite the potential for huge orders, are long and complex.

Despite these hiccups, Perfint aims to be one of the top five players in robotic based therapy.

The next step for Perfint is raise $10-15 million. It will then go public.