We are publishing an interview of Mr. Santosh Nair, Founder & Managing Director, Miklens Bio – a startup which was launched on 22nd August 2016 and headquartered in Mumbai by Mr. Santosh Nair & Dr. Ms. Nisha. Miklens Bio was recognized as India’s most promising technology startups at the TECH30 were announced at TechSparks 2017, Bengaluru by YourStory. Miklens Bio was amongst the 2500 entries best of the tech and startup world. The coveted list of Tech30 included starups from Artificial Intelligence (AI), healthtech, cyber security, and cryptocurrency made it to the list.
Miklens Bio Pvt. Ltd. has appointed ASLE Technology Group (ATG) as their sole distribution partners for USA and Canada markets.
About the founders
Mr. Santosh Nair – Founder & Managing Director:
• Brings in 20+ years of experience in strategic business planning, operations, business strategy, people management and revenue growth.
• At Miklens Bio, responsible for the overall growth and development of the Company.
• Previous stints include HDFC Bank, heading the Retail Business followed by Merrill Lynch as the Market Director.
• Later took responsibility as CEO of Camson Biotechnologies Limited.
• Earned a bachelors degree in Science from Mumbai University & Masters in Financial Management from NMIMS. Completed an Executive Management Program in Finance from IIM, Ahmedabad.
Dr. Ms. Nisha M. M. – Director Research
• Over 16 years of experience in leading R&D with extensive knowledge in Agriculture, Microbiology & Biotechnology techniques.
• She has successfully rolled out over 27 products addressing various issues related to agriculture. Identified more than 20 microbial strains.
• Has international research publications to her credit and has presented papers internationally on important pests for agriculture.
• At Miklens Bio, she is responsible for the overall research and development activities and for product development.
• She is a Master of Science in Agricultural Entomology and has been awarded with the prestigious “Pioneer Researcher” under AICRT.
Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans: Miklens Bio is a Research and Development powerhouse focussing on bring about a change in the way agriculture is practised. Our expertise lies in developing products based on Agri-Microbial Technology (AMT) which are Residue Free, thereby attempting to provide an avenue for farmers to carry out chemical free farming methods. Post Green Revolution, the haphazard use of chemical pesticides has made the soil infertile thereby decreasing the productivity and profitability of the farmer community. Miklens Bio provides an alternative to such chemical based farming approach.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: Miklens Bio is a Research & Development powerhouse coupled with biotechnological edge in the agriculture sector. We manufacture bio based Agri inputs which helps in chemical free farming. Our USP is the proprietary Agri Microbial Technology (AMT). This technological approach would help to overcome the health and environment hazards caused by chemical based farming. Our products are developed from microbes, which are available freely and thus we provide an alternative for Residue Free Cultivation. The platform that we have selected is very unique and novel in nature.
We make use of our expertise in the field of biotechnology to provide products which are effective thereby improving the value offerings to the farmers in terms of improved yields, better crop quality and ultimately their revenue.
Our current product portfolio is categorised under:
1. Plant Growth Enhancers
4. Plant Protection
Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learnings that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer? Do you have atleast one of them signed up?
Ans: There were no assumptions, just a factual clarity. Miklens Bio was found on the ideology of Farming with Naturally Driven Microbes. We operate in a very niche segment and the market has been very receptive to us since we entered the market. We want to replace the chemical driven market with a colourful organic alternative. By far, we operate in around 11 states and have 54 key dealers across.
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? Explain your thought process.
Ans: We have kept our pricing bit less than the chemical counter parts. Our products are target specific and hence doesn’t harm beneficial organisms. The repetition/frequency of usage is lesser for our products, hence eventually we turn out to be much more reasonable. Thus when the per acre cost of inputs is less coupled with higher yield, the farmer has the chance to earn more.
Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans: Our technology backed products and the resultant efficacy led us to our first customer in Kerala. Post which there was no looking back. By now, we have exported 2 shipments of Microbial NPK for sale in USA and Canada markets.
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: Miklens Bio’s research has been focussed on microbes, tiny microscopic organisms that are found in soil, water and air and potent exotic plant extracts as well. As a response to stress, microbes release specific extracts. These extracts are collected, blended with plant extracts and researched upon for their properties and effects on various pests, pathogen, bacteria and fungi. This determines their usage and commercial application as bio-insecticides, bio-fungicides, bio-fertilisers and Microbial NPK.
We wish to reduce the dependency of farmers on chemical/synthetic fertilizer. Our products contain these microbial/plant extracts which kill the target pathogen in unique ways and do not harm the beneficial micro-organisms in the soil. To improve their efficiency, our products are made using a combination of microbial extracts from various microbes thus combining multiple modes of action to kill or inhibit the pathogen. This microbial approach of product development has the potential to change the agricultural canvas of India.
Q.: What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
Ans: Our Agri Microbial Technology is the most unique aspect which we offer to the market and the agri community. We foresee the future to be completely driven by chemical free agri inputs. The world is waking up to the rays of organic produce and parallel, want the farms lands to retain their nutrient value. Both these can be achieved only through unique offering like ours.
Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles – How you see them evolving over time. What would be each of their Skillsets? – Elaborate also if any of the team members has a specific domain expertise.
Ans: The core team members are:
- Mr. Santosh Nair – Founder and Managing Director
- Dr. Ms. Nisha M.M. – Director (Research)
- Mr. J Chandrasekhar – Director (Business Development)
Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: We are looking for right kind of investors who are equally passionate about environment and human health.
Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition?
Ans: Our major competition is the mind-set of the farmers and the regulatory issues from the government, apart from the chemical counterparts. Farmer education and adoption is a time consuming process and once he is in, he doesn’t go back. The government is working its way to push the chemical free products and it has worked wonders in North East. Many other states in pipeline to go organic in coming years, which will be eventually benefitted by the nation.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: Followings would be our goals:
1. Focus on R&D: Focusing R&D efforts on developing compelling technologies to deliver a innovative pipeline of new products
2. Optimization of Operational Costs: Continuous focus on optimizing operational costs and further streamlining processes to achieve excellence
3. Maximizing ROI: Optimize utilization of manufacturing platform to enhance capital efficiency and maximise returns
4. Distributional Channels: Successfully opening up of distribution channels supported by deeper market penetration
5. Continuous Innovation: Develop and patent innovative products
6. Validating Product Excellence: Conduct extensive trials across various agricultural universities for validating the product efficacy performance
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: Entrepreneurship is a tough journey with lot of learnings. At the end of the journey, you will not only be tougher, but also wiser.
Q.: Any other information you would like to share?
Ans: Indian Agriculture Industry is at a transformation stage. India has woken up to the concept of Residue Free Farming with not only the end consumers advocating for the same, but also the farmers in favour. Our agriculture sector is receiving the much required support from the government which acts as a thrust to bring about this transformation. This transformation will eventually benefit our nation considering the fact that agriculture accounts for ~15% of the country’s GDP and 58% of rural households rely on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood. We should ensure to make proper use of our already depleted water sources, drip irrigation will be the savior here. Effective methods for weather information services will help the farmers to plan their crop cycle accordingly. Indian Agriculture is yet to witness enormous growth and this can definitely be achieved with “A New Hope”
Thanks Mr. Nair. Best of luck!
For more details, visit http://www.miklensbio.com
Physical Address of Startup
Head office of Miklens Bio Pvt. Ltd
SPARSH, No.3 Divine Bungalows,
83/1, Appajapal Layout, Cheemasandra,
Near Avalahalli- Hoskote Main Road,
Virgonagar, Bengaluru- 560049