The Interview Series: 010 - Vijay Kanuru, India
Vijay Kanuru is a serial entrepreneur and a leading nanotech-innovator with a background in chemistry and specialising in nano-bio technology. He is the Founder and CEO of ONCOCUR India Pvt Ltd, a curcumin based cancer drug discovery start-up and HARAS Beverages Pvt Ltd, a turmeric nutraceutic beverages company, developer and producer of the world's first water soluble turmeric juice.
Vijay is a recipient of prestigious academic distinctions and research fellowships such as the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, DAAD, Helmholtz, and Lowry Prize and also recognised with a Young Scientist Award from the International Association of Catalysis Societies, USA.
Vijay did his PhD from the University of Cambridge and Masters from Pune University India. In addition he did his postdoctoral studies from Cornell and obtained an energy management certificate with distinction from Stanford University.
What does your Company do? /What is your Project about
Our company Haras Bevarages Pvt Ltd brought the world's first water soluble turmeric juice to the global market and specialises in making curcumin based innovative nutraceutic herbal juices empowered by our nano-biotechnology platform to enable superior absorption and effectiveness.
Why are you doing this, what is driving you?
I have always been passionate and strong believer in the indispensable role of science and innovation for a progressive and healthy society with more eco-friendly and sustainable business models. Through this venture, I am addressing three areas close to my passion: introducing new technologies - innovative products to the markets, creating new opportunities for employment and leading the paradigm shift in healthcare by touching millions of lives and their well-being. All that really excites me.
What is your background?
I am an explorer of the nano world and an entrepreneur of blue ocean opportunities with macro vision! I was born and grew up in a small village near a town in the South East coast of India, and I did my undergraduate and graduate studies in chemistry in South Western India. I was always passionate about science, religion and astronomy!
How did you end up doing this?
During my undergraduate days a popular science article on nanoscience really drew my attention and I gravitated gradually to pursue more during my university education. I still remember the excitement when reading about how nanotubes offer greater strength than steel despite their light weight! Eventually this quest perhaps drove me to Cambridge where I did my PhD in nanoscience.
What does success look like?
For me success is when your innovation is making a difference to the lives of others and the planet, also value for stakeholders. I truly believe in a triple bottom line!
What is your biggest challenge that you have to overcome to make your company/project a success?
Being a scientist you are deeply focused in the science but you often lack a crucial understanding of the market, financial markets and business operations. Trying to learn, understand and become the master of all different aspects of a business and articulating your vision for growth to the investors was challenging.
Do you have time to do anything else? What do you do outside work to keep sane?
I love travelling and trekking but I really don’t take any time off nowadays. In the past seven years I only took few days off! I really enjoy what I do so that is not a problem for me.
What would be your biggest tip to aspiring entrepreneurs?
My top tip is that you should have a clear vision, conviction, determination and passion and the rest will follow.
And finally… what keeps you awake at night?
Well, when you are running a highly risky early stage deep tech ventures, for example developing a new drug, trying to find investment or markets for innovative first time products, the constant quest to find better ways to manage the uncertainties - can give you nightmares and you end up working around the clock!