Suresh Vazirani started on his path to business success because he saw widespread disease in India and wanted to help. Trained as an electrical engineer, Vazirani recognized a need for diagnostic testing in his country, as well as an opportunity, since this equipment and the chemicals they used were all imported. “I wanted to do something to help out, to help prevent and identify diseases,” he said.
In 1979, he started Transasia in Mumbai with an initial bankroll of about $5. “I used $2 to register the company and $3 to buy business cards and stationery.”
Vazirani told friends about his idea, obtained a loan and realized that he know nothing about the business. He went to the commercial offices of embassies and consulates in India, looked up the names of diagnostic companies in different countries and typed out about 200 letters asking if he could visit their companies and study their production processes.
Armed with replies from about 30 companies that wanted to do business in India, Vazirani spent six months traveling to companies in Europe, the U.S. and China “on a very tight budget. People thought I was crazy,” he said. “I received a loan to start my business and then went on a trip around the world.”
Vazirani returned to India, visited potential clients and offered technical support for imported diagnostic products. Four customers had hematology machines in Mumbai that didn’t work. Using his engineering skills, Vazirani repaired the machines and won their loyalty.
“I saw that after-sales support is key in this business … and we focus on that,” he said.
The Indian entrepreneur then began producing reagents and other chemicals used for diagnostic testing on a small scale in India, and Transasia began making economical testing equipment in Mumbai in 1991. “I prayed a lot,” he said.
With his focus on local production and technical support, Transasia grew quickly in the huge Indian domestic market, and Vazirani in 1995 set up a manufacturing facility in Germany – ERBA Mannheim — to launch an international expansion.
“Our business is based on technology,” Vazirani said. “And it’s best to have a world base for technology and worldwide markets to sell our products.”
Today, Transasia has three manufacturing centers in India, operations in the U.S. and Europe and global sales that were about $200 million last year, Vazirani said. About $100 million in sales come from India.
“It has worked out well for us,” Vazirani said. “We are still a work in progress.”