Axtria’s Jaswinder Chadha has a vision to reshape the pharma sector with technology
New Jersey-based Axtria helps pharmaceutical companies keep track of their sales and marketing operations while fast-tracking their drug development cycles.
For Jaswinder Chadha, being an entrepreneur certainly wasn’t on the cards. He aspired to follow in his father’s footsteps early on in his journey and join the army. One term into the course, he quit and made the decision to join IIT Delhi, taking after his mother Tarvinder Chadha, who was first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics from IIT Delhi in 1968.
He’s come a long way since then. Decked out in hist-shirt and sporting an Axtria-branded laptop bag, he quips, “You don't choose life sciences or New Jersey; they choose you.”
Attracting talent to Life Sciences
To Jaswinder, who also goes by Jassi, a career in the life sciences industry is often seen as "unsexy," as most software engineers don't dream about working in the sector. "The life sciences industry, historically worldwide but particularly in India, has never attracted the best talent," he says. "I can't rely on just hiring talent from the market…As a matter of fact, there is a problem."
To solve this, Axtria collaborated with educators and trainers develop curriculums. In 2013, Axtria Institute (AI) was launched for learning and development of its employees. Today, it has more than 400 trainers onboard and has awarded more than 50,000 certificates for technical skills such as SQL, Python, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and Power BI.
"When you see the in-classroom training we do, it's like going to a university to get a degree," says Jassi.
Making new moves
As a sales consultancy for pharmaceutical companies, it was Axtria’s goal to set itself apart from the rivals with software and technology. This is when it made a transition to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model in 2013 and launched Axtria Sales IQ—which is now its flagship product.
It now has 5 flagship products: Sales IQ, which helps pharmaceutical companies track the performances of their sales representatives and calculate incentives; Customer IQ, a customer engagement platform that uses AI-ML analytics to recommend ways to improve engagement; and Marketing IQ, which keeps track of their promotional activities and determines returns on investment.
"We are aware of every data that exists in this industry; we have the ability to ingest it, normalize it, manage it, and actually provision it for all downstream applications," he adds.
Apart from these, it also makes products that help pharmaceutical companies manage and extract insights from their own data. For instance, Axtria's DataMAX, a cloud-based platform, can help pharmaceutical companies extract data from their own processes, store it securely, examine the quality of the data, and process it to provide actionable insights.
More than 12% of the organization's workforce, comprising professionals such as engineers, data scientists, product managers, and domain experts, are actively involved in the pursuit of product innovation and development.
The company also says that 50% of its revenues come from these products.
For now Axtria sells its offerings as managed services where it provides businesses with both software licenses and dedicated personnel from their own workforce. These personnel assist clients in integrating their processes into its cloud platform.
What lies ahead?
To further seperate itself from its peers Axtria plans to double down on the data models it has created and innovate on a cloud based product which pharma companies can use for drug development based largely on data.
This is because he believes the future of drug development lies in vertical integration where drug companies have their in-house data specialists who would need the tools to neatly arrange and prepare datasets that can be then analyzed by scientists to innovate new medicines.
"We're in the business of selling picks and shovels to pharmaceutical companies, thinking about actually having digital platforms," Jassi says
Axtria is in the process to hire 1000 people for its new Pune office, many of whom will work on product based activities like innovating new use cases and perfecting existing offerings. It is also in the process of opening another office in Hyderabad.
In 2021, Axtria raised $150 million from Bain Capital Opportunities Fund. This was its first-ever institutional funding round. Jassi mentions that none of its investors have exited so far.
As for other things in Jassi's life, he enjoys travelling with his family twice a year. Upon contemplation of an early retirement, he remarks "That's not who I am. I love what I do, and I have been successful, which makes the journey more fulfilling."