How Algorics has grown through exceptional service with technology to drive efficiencies and serve customers - Q&A with Nithiya Ananthakrishnan, CEO of Algorics
As we reflect on the last 12 months and look ahead to the future, we took some time for a virtual discussion with Algorics' CEO, Nithiya Ananthakrishnan. We asked him about his entrepreneurial journey, the factors underpinning the business growth, and his vision for the future.
Can you tell us a little about the company journey?
I started Algorics in 2013 with a background working in technology and statistics for large CROs and consulting firms.
I had a passion for building products. We started our journey in data analytics and data visualisation with our Acuity platform and statistical and programming services. After five years, we successfully built and implemented our technology for several customers then sold the technology assets to OmniComm. In the process, we had developed a strong network of industry friends and a recognisable brand identity for Algorics. Our customers and colleagues saw us as more than a resourcing entity; they saw us as a data science partner. I decided to relaunch the company in January of 2020, obviously having no idea what was about to happen with the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been twists and turns along the way, but the leadership and our growing team have been hugely committed and supportive. When I look at our headcount chart today, it's a magical moment.
What is your core focus now as a business?
Our focus is clinical data science. There is a misconception about data science being solely around highly innovative techniques such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. Before this, it's essential to get the fundamentals in place- accurate and clean data and a deep understanding of it. This exercise requires significant domain knowledge and clinical expertise.
Experts who understand the protocol and the data and follow that pathway through to regulatory submission add value. Data management has transformed significantly over the last twenty years, before EDC came to the fore, data managers were doing double data entry. Now, we have eSource solutions where data is captured at the site. In contrast, SAS programming has moved relatively slowly, and we are still mainly doing double programming. This is inefficient, especially in the light of development of CDISC standards and shortage of qualified statistical programmers. The industry is moving towards more automated data transformation methods, and Algorics is well-placed to support innovations and solutions in this space.
How have you grown over the last year?
We are fortunate to have an exceptional network both in India and around the world, and it's a key differentiator for us. Even in this market, when other companies may have found it hard to recruit talent, we have been able to thrive thanks to our connections with industry colleagues who buy into our mission. As a dynamic start-up, we've attracted talented people from large CROs because they like our culture and aspirations. That creates a ripple effect because when someone joins us, it further builds credibility, and often their colleagues and contacts have chosen to join us. As well as organic growth, we've recently made some strategic acquisitions.
How do your strong employee and industry relationships benefit customers?
Before founding Algorics, I have worked for various CROs managing large teams of programmers. Unfortunately, attrition was often high in big corporations where people tend to come and go. We have been fortunate to have excellent staff retention throughout our journey, and this continuity of resources is very valuable for customers.
When you're working on complex and long-term projects, resource stability is an essential factor that contributes to ultimate success. Our network also plays into our ability to ramp up quickly and serve even fast-turnaround project requests. For example, we’ve recently been engaged to provide support for a promising COVID vaccine trial at short notice, and we've been able to resource that quickly.
What do your customers most value about working with Algorics?
Our company values are agility, customer-centricity and transparency, and I believe that customers experience these when working with us. As well as that ability to ramp up and be flexible that I mentioned earlier, trust is a crucial factor. We get repeat business from existing clients because they have confidence in the quality and timeliness of our deliverables. This principle of reliability is a personal value I've always held as well as a commitment we make as a company. In my previous corporate career, one of my managers once told me that when I was working on a project, she could go to bed peacefully knowing that I would be taking care of things. That has always stayed with me.
What are your hopes and aspirations for the next 12 months?
Over the next 12 months, we plan to continue our journey providing efficient biostatistics and statistical programming solutions to a broader portfolio of clients, including early stage biotechs specialising in the oncology space, where we have developed a strong competency. Entering the clinic is a pivot point for these companies where speed, cost, efficiency are especially crucial. With our analytical know-how, customer focus and technology support, we are confident we will provide these sponsors with exceptional support for their trials. We are also excited about building a technological capability to support data transformation and regulatory submission in the SAS space using metadata to enable automation. We are already using these tools to promote efficiency in our services and plan to make this a commercial product.
Ultimately our vision is to disrupt the programming paradigm and reduce or eliminate the need for double programming through validated, automated data transformation.