Q. What was the problem that you were grappling with?
A. A turning point in my entrepreneurial journey was when I needed to finance the scaling up of our home-grown solid state fermentation technology for enzymes. I needed Rs 1 crore, and in 1987, it was a lot of money. The usual financiers like Karnataka State Financial Corporation and Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board were reluctant as they felt this was high-risk capital considering that the technology had not been vetted or validated by any external agency. I reasoned with them that this was all about intellectual property and proprietary technology.
Q. Who did you approach for advice and why?
A. Having failed at securing the funding, I turned for advice to (Narayanan) Vaghul, the then chariman of ICICI Bank.
Q. What was the advice?
A. He found my project perfect for venture funding through his new Technology Development & Investment Corporation of India. In the process, the lesson I learnt was never to take 'no' for an answer. Perseverance pays and reaching out to the right mentor gives you the ability to solve problems.
Q. How effective was it in resolving the problem?
A. Instead of debt financing through long-term loans, I received equity funding of Rs 1.8 crore because they felt I needed more than Rs 1 crore to fully implement my technology. ICICI Bank took a 10 per cent stake in Biocon in 1988 and cashed out by selling the stake a year later to Unilever at four times the value and made me realise what value unlocking was all about!