Each and every startup has certain untold story which later known as success story if startup get success. The story of Aeka goes 7 years back at Sree Chitra Thirunal College of Engineering, Trivandrum, where Aardra Chandra Mouli and Gayathri Thankachi V. finished their graduation. The duo and their classmates dreamed of and worked hard to establishment of Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering SCTCE batch, Aeka Biochemicals Pvt. Ltd is the first biotech and biochemical startup venture based out of Trivandrum in Kerala wholly owned by women.
The company is primarily focused on manufacturing of biotechnological, biochemical and enzymatic products, chemical products or extracts of biological origin. The whole team at Aeka, Aardra says, is very passionate about creating a friendly work atmosphere that fosters creativity, teamwork, innovation, and unity. “This in turn helps our efforts to manufacture products that are aimed at, and useful for, the population,” adds Aardra.
Challenges so far
However, establishing a biotech company in Kerala, where there are very few biotech startups, has several challenges. One of which, Aardra says, includes the usual red tape. A major issue they faced was the lack of a single, comprehensive, source of information regarding the legal and regulatory processes to be carried out and the licenses to be obtained for such a company as Aeka. “However, guides, mentors, and local authorities proved supportive, and sound advice from experienced hands helped us overcome the initial hassles,” adds Aardra.
Although, Aardra says, they were fortunate in being the recipients of courteous and thoughtful behaviour during the majority of their interactions with authorities, clients, and the general public, they had their scrapes with a largely patriarchal society.
Aardra says, “It would be difficult to say that we have had completely smooth sailing. We did, on occasion, face individuals who wanted to know ‘who exactly is behind you? I don’t believe that two ‘girls’ can want to or know how to run a business!’ Although very few instances, but ones that are well on their way to becoming funny anecdotes.”
Building facilities and products
On October 3, 2014, Aeka began its operations, and November, Aeka was shortlisted and selected for the Kerala State Entrepreneur Development Mission scheme of the Government of Kerala in association with the Kerala Financial Corporation (KFC).
This, Aardra says, was a major milestone, as it represented the first external funding received by the company since its inception. It was in January the team began the establishment of their laboratory and small-scale production facility at Vazhuthacaud, Trivandrum. Aeka’s Vazhuthacaud facility comprises a full-fledged wet laboratory, basic analytical laboratory, and pilot-scale biochemical production units.
In February, they introduced their marketing wing Aeka Labs that handles the marketing activities and market research. Aeka Labs has its office at Jagathy, and is also responsible for the market promotion of the bioproducts.
On June 1, 2015, the scientific work at the company’s newly established laboratory was flagged off by Dr. V.P. Potty, their mentor a senior scientist. “In the heart of the city, Aeka’s Vazhuthacaud facility is optimised so as to be eco-friendly, pollutant-free, and a green, zero-effluent zone. The lab and manufacturing unit are equipped for microbiology, biotechnology, quality control, and chemical (wet lab) work,” says Aardra. In July, they initiated the lab-scale production and testing of what has evolved into its Sasya range of products.