There are an increasing number of powerful women in leadership positions who are changing their fields and the world. Such women have broken the glass ceiling and surmounted many challenges to excel in their respective industries. Ms. Swati V. Jojodia, the head of Swati Spentose’s key marketing efforts, is one such woman who is considered among the top league of mavens globally in the pharmaceutical industry.
It is said, “Strength and growth come only through constant effort and struggle, and Once all struggle is grasped, miracles are possible.” Ms. Jajodia believes that she has a dynamic, entrepreneurial warrior lady within her. She was raised by her grandfather, a doyen in the textile industry. The inspirational woman had a top-notch education and complete freedom to pursue her aspirations. At the age of 22, she married and joined the pharmaceutical family as a specialist in international distribution. Her foray into entrepreneurship started when she and her husband Mr. Vishal Jajodia established a research facility at Kandivali in Mumbai. Consistently, from 1995 to 2005, they put all of their income towards research and development for a remarkably sophisticated carbohydrate chemistry. After their R&D efforts, Mr. Vishal Jajodia, took the responsibility to manage HR, administration, finance, and factory operations, while Ms. Swati shared the responsibility to lead research, business strategy, and the most critical of all, sales and marketing, which got them all the revenues.
The magnificent lady informed, that their unique partnership was the secret recipe for where they are today. With heavy investment in research and innovation, for the first 10 years, SSPL had carried forward losses (approximately 67 crore as of 2014 before turning profitable), and for the last 5 years, the company has become debt-free with almost 38% Ebitda, the highest industry benchmark of financial success, and almost 25% year-over-year success. Today, SSPL has one of the highest profit margins.
Addressing the Unmet Needs of Suffering Women
Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome is an untreated condition and an orphan disease. In this condition, bladder ulcers can develop in individuals affected by the illness. The disease leads to difficulties in the bladder’s ability to retain or store acidic urine, even for short durations, due to damage to the bladder lining. This damage can result in severe pain and burning sensations, often compelling the patient to urinate frequently, ranging from 50 to 60 times per day. These distressing symptoms can be associated with significant emotional distress, impacting the patient’s quality of life and potentially leading to feelings of despair.
With 4 years of persistent efforts and perseverance, SSPL opened the subject to more than 2000 Urologists, partnering with the erstwhile urology leader Ranbaxy’s eye, leading to jointly launching a parallel brand (which subsequently went over to Sun Pharma after the Ranbaxy acquisition), and eventually, Cipla too joined the bandwagon. With this, SSPL now has three brands in parallel, and all three are manufactured and supported by Swati Spentose Pvt. Ltd. (SSPL). It is one of the most unique success stories of social good and profuse financial success.
In 2015, it was noted by the team that, besides the USA, the entire world market was unserved, leading to millions of people suffering from the disease with no one to help them address the same. A doctor’s association known as GIBS (Global Interstitial Cystitis and Bladder Pain Society) was formed for doctoral meeting where they got the Urology Professors together to prepare the curriculum and educate the urologists in the country so as to reach out to the suffering patients. Statistically, SSPL now has 2160 top doctors (1469 from India and 691 International) under one roof strictly by invitation. Only those who were driven to contribute to science have willingly collaborated in almost 80 countries, engaging with more than 2000 urologists worldwide, setting the pathway for global collaboration to alleviate patients from suffering.
Overcoming the Hiccups on the Way
The difficulties came in many forms. Patients believed the ailment was a problem brought on by ageing and could not be resolved, while doctors were unaware of the condition (IC/BPS) and needed to be educated. Therefore, they had no need to go to the doctor, and even if they did and the doctor accurately diagnosed and treated them, the patient’s compliance was questionable because it was frustrating to take a costly medicine for six months before seeing any results. Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium, a breakthrough by SSPL, is a regenerative medicine and needs around 6 months for it to form a gag layer in the bladder.
With all the above challenges, no pharmaceutical company wanted to venture into this. When no one else was interested, SSPL launched their own brand in 2010 on the premise that if the United States, which has a population of 350 million, has an estimated 4 million people suffering from interstitial cystitis and writes 40,000 prescriptions each month, what is to stop India, which has a population of over a billion, from addressing 12 million patient’s needs.
Throughout the process, numerous gynaecologists addressed the SSPL team to inform them that the majority of Indian women continue to conflate the fields of gynaecology and urology and visit their gynaecologists for urology-related issues. For instance, bladder health, the team recognised that there is a significant unmet demand in the area of pelvic discomfort. Since pelvic pain is not a disease, there is no direct treatment for it, and no pharmaceutical company is motivated to create a scientific foundation for it. This is demonstrated by the fact that SSPL is only the second organisation in the world to focus on this issue, making this a tremendous chance to meet a great need for suffering women. With this, the gynaecologists associated with SSPL came forward to establish the association FEPPA (Female Pelvic Pain Association), which now has 1471 doctors in 32 countries leading the subject worldwide, all led by the Indian Flag.
Envisioned to be the most efficient and environmentally compliant business, Swati Spentose strictly follows the rules of nature and believes in creating a better world for the next generation. They offer access to worldwide science and give each employee in the organisation authority and responsibility.
Fostering a Culture of Freedom and Flexibility
SSPL fosters a truly encouraging and healthy environment with a positive culture and an open platform to express opinions. The only time the human brain is truly creative is when it is not under stress. Greater staff engagement and retention are inescapably a result of an agile intrapreneurship culture and SSPL truly believes in it.
Expansion Binge and Road Ahead
Taking the current exceptionally huge success of SSPL in bladder disease (which was attended to in the USA only for the last 3 decades) to a minimum of 50 countries and hopefully to 100 countries before the end of the decade.
SSPL is looking forward to the development of 7 brand new manufacturing sites, of which 6 are to be developed in India and 1 in Germany, over the coming few years, which will add up to a total of 14 manufacturing sites.
Words of Wisdom by an Inspirational Business Lady
Do not lose hope!
An entrepreneur is an eternal optimist.
There will be several failure roadblock issues, but these are great. Only then do we find new pathways to reach our goal and, in turn, write history.
Stay humble; do not let success get to your head.