Rajarshi studied medicine in Oxford and undertook his specialist training in London, and is now the CEO of Perspectum Diagnostics. The company was born out of his research in Oxford, and has developed a non-invasive diagnostic tool for the detection and measurement of liver disease. He is also a consultant physician in Oxford Health NHS Trust. Find out more
I have always been interested in science, and spent a lot of time in my teens volunteering in care homes with the elderly. Medicine was the perfect fusion of the application of science for human benefit, which appealed to me the most. It was the most natural route for me.
(Laughs) You know, it’s funny that we don’t even have an English word to describe something where the key attribute is bravery! Entrepreneurship to me is being brave and seeing an idea through to completion.
I don’t really see myself as an entrepreneur. I never “decided” to become one, but actually, I didn’t have a choice. I had this great technology, this invention, and if you have something which can help people, you have an ethical obligation to do something with it. Yes you can license it to someone else, but there is no guarantee it will turn out how you hope it will. The only way to ensure your idea follows through is to do it yourself.
So what would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
Bravery is the most important, because having the conviction to take an idea to completion is difficult. You must also have good people skills, especially the ability to work with others. You have to share the risks, but also the benefits. And you should always follow the entrepreneur’s code of being fair and helpful.
My favourite part of this journey is seeing my ambitions scaled. When I started, my ambitions were based on a successful medical career, and a limited effect on people. As the company grows and the technology begins to be used all around the world, I have realized that it is so much bigger than I could have imagined. I have people who I considered my heroes or role models contacting me for advice now, which is amazing.
Any micro financing company, such as Grameen Bank, is very inspiring. They are able to provide tiny amounts (to them) of capital, which elevates the borrowers’ horizons immensely. They have built relationships on trust, which is so much stronger and rewarding than a traditional model. People are less likely to default once there is trust and a human element or relationship.
I would love to hear more about their failures and pitfalls, so as to best avoid them myself, and also how to help others achieve their goals and ambitions.
A huge step for us was getting FDA clearance for our scan in record time. To have external, critical endorsement of both our technology and aims, proved to us that we were doing it and doing it right.
Hesitating too long with key decisions. Personally, I have a tendency to micro-manage, so now I try and hire people who are better than me, and let them get on with it!
Oxford has some of the best scientists in the world, and some of the best people who know how to commercialise science. This is crucial for scalable medical technology. However, adoption of technology is slow not only here, but in the UK as a whole. Many of the early adopters are abroad. In terms of education, we encourage people to become post-docs without providing the roles or the salaries to accompany it. Becoming a PI in academia, often at a salary 10x the rate for post-docs, is too hard in this country, and we are not doing enough to rectify it.
Find a good business lawyer, and make sure you understand the advantages of incorporation and tax relief for investors. This will come in very handy when pitching for funding! And get connected in the community. People like to see others succeed, so you will find support in many places.
Determine what’s important to you and what you are worth, and do not compromise. If you are not being treated as you think you should, look elsewhere. Really focus on the culture of the company from the start – you only get to set it once!