EO Q&A: Evolving the Business of Biotechnology

Pioneering up-and-coming technologies is no small feat, and it’s even more impactful when these discoveries are saving the lives of millions around the world. For 16 years, Anu Ancharya, an EO Hyderabad member and CEO of MapMyGenome, has been revolutionizing personalized healthcare through the production of specialized software and accessible genomics testing. In this interview, Anu talks about the increasing impact of biotechnology in her community and beyond.

What sparked your initial interest in genomics?

AA: “I received my master of science degrees in physics and management information systems, so when I chose to start my entrepreneurial journey, technology and science seemed like the best areas in which to work. I met two other entrepreneurs with the same passions, and one was a genomics expert. Our first venture, Ocimum Biosolutions, addressed the need for bioinformatics software at the beginning of Y2K. I developed that company for more than 10 years before founding MapMyGenome.”

What kind of mark do you want to make through MapMyGenome?

AA: “We provide genomics testing to customers around the world, identifying genetic predispositions to many health conditions. To be as impactful as possible, we provide expert genetic counseling to recommend actionable steps that suit our clients’ lifestyles. Our goal is to touch 100 million lives through our products and save one million lives by 2030.”

How are you making complex data digestible for your clients?

AA: “Our customers need to not only understand their results without technical knowledge, but they also require the information in an easy-to-read report. We are constantly working to make this complex data fairly simple to understand. In addition, we have designed a process by which the data is doubly anonymized and protected, for the security of our customers. There cannot be any mix-ups, so our biostatisticians, bioinformaticians and publishing technology professionals have optimized a way to make all of this flow smoothly.”

How do you package your products based on specific health concerns?

AA: “Often, people are looking for solutions to specific health concerns, like weight loss, diabetes prevention and heart care. So, packages can provide specific, affordable solutions. However, most of our customers end up opting for our flagship product, Genomepatri, which provides a composite report of a person’s genetic makeup. It offers a great deal of value and has a more holistic approach. Because we are advocating a personal command of individualized healthcare, we would be limiting our customers if we exclusively worked on a micro- or macro-level.”

What does the future hold for your business and personalized healthcare?

AA: “This domain has seen growth at an unprecedented rate. At MapMyGenome, we are scaling our team and operations to meet the growing demand. We are also increasing our research and development spending to make data more insightful. The reality that people are transforming their lifestyles and habits to be healthier and live longer, based on our recommendations, is an indicator that the world is ready to embrace this level of service.

“Biotechnology has the potential to transform many other domains beyond healthcare, including the food and beverage industry, fitness and agriculture. Now is the time to scale up and make sure this powerful technology benefits as many sectors and individuals as possible. Governments also have a significant role to play, in terms of regulations, import and export duties, and funding. Some countries are already doing this on a large scale; we will see more of this in the near future.”

What tips would you give young entrepreneurs interested in this field?

AA: “You’ve chosen one of the best fields to work in— make sure you keep up with innovations in biotechnology through constant learning. For as you learn, you evolve.”

Anu Acharya introduced India to the concept of improved healthcare through personal genomics in 2013, when she founded MapMyGenome.

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