Ajay Kakar, Founder and CEO of Salve Group of Companies

Ajay Kakar

Interview with Ajay Kakar, Founder and CEO of Salve Group of Companies

Ajay Kakar is a leading figure in the Dermatology and Cosmeceutical Industry in India, with almost two decades of experience in the field.

He is a visionary leader who believes in taking bold steps towards introducing innovative products. The Salve Group has launched more than 200 products in the skincare industry.

Initially started as a marketing company, Salve, under Ajay’s definitive stewardship, later set up its own manufacturing unit.

Ajay completed his D.Pharma from the Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research in 1984, and his B.Sc in Zoology/Animal Biology from Hindu College.

Ajay is a passionate entrepreneur who believes that focus, vision, strategy, development, innovation, and quality are the top skills required to succeed in any venture.

He aspires to build an organization that excels in its niche in all aspects, such as monetary rewards, recognition, and trust.

His leadership style is to motivate others towards the successful completion of tasks and the realization of a shared vision, which includes aspects such as communication, intelligence, decision-making, adaptability, delegation, motivation, integrity, problem-solving, and team-building.

Under his leadership, he envisions Salve Group of Companies developing the best skincare and derma products that fulfil the needs of every person and paves the way to build a globally recognized and trusted company.

Although Ajay is not an avid reader, he is inspired by the movie, Founder, which stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the ambitious businessman who turned a small fast-food operation into the global empire that is McDonald’s Corporation today. Ajay’s hobbies include gymming, vlogging, learning new skills, cycling, and swimming.

Ajay’s greatest inspiration has been visionary business magnate and philanthropist, Mr. Ratan Tata. Ajay’s outstanding contributions to the industry have been recognized through awards such as SMEBIZZ CEO Star Awards, 2022, and the ET Inspiring Leaders, 2022.

Can you tell us about your background and what led you to start Salve Pharmaceuticals?

Ajay Kakar: I completed my diploma in pharmacy and initially began my career in pharmaceutical distribution.

However, an opportunity arose for me to acquire several brands specializing in dermatology. It marked the beginning of my journey.

Initially, I worked as a marketer, but I aspired for excellence and believed that having my own manufacturing facility was crucial.

In 2007, I established my first plant called Salve Pharmaceuticals. Subsequently, I launched Salvia Cosmeceuticals, recognizing the importance of including cosmeceuticals in our dermatology portfolio.

Our operations commenced in Delhi, and due to positive feedback from doctors, we gradually expanded our presence across North India.

Additionally, we started exporting our products to ASEAN countries. Currently, we export to 20 countries and have channel partners exclusively selling under the Salve Pharmaceuticals brand.

Our journey began by acquiring five brands, initially consisting of five products. Our flagship brand, Parasoft, offers a range of moisturizers.

Since then, we have expanded our product range based on market demands. We introduced a shower gel and a non-comedogenic liquid to complement the original Parasoft cream.

The Salve Group of Companies now encompasses brands catering to various niches. We have Firmer, which addresses anti-aging concerns; Littloo, a childcare brand; Foot Vital, focusing on foot care; and Sunprotek, our brand for sun protection.

How do you keep up with the constantly evolving pharmaceutical industry and ensure Salve Pharmaceuticals remains competitive?

Ajay Kakar: In 2015, with the entry of companies like Amazon in India, our dermatology company gained exposure through these platforms.

However, the true transformation occurred during the COVID pandemic when we recognized the vital significance of the digital space.

Since then, we have witnessed a remarkable surge in demand for our products and have been expanding in both verticals.

We serve the medical community while also addressing the market’s cosmeceutical requirements through diverse e-commerce platforms.

 One notable aspect that distinguishes the Salve Group of Companies is its unique blend of being a manufacturing powerhouse and a skilled marketer, which is quite rare to come across.

What sets us apart from other companies is our significant advantage of having a complete in-house R&D department.

We take immense pleasure in conducting thorough research on our products, constantly exploring new and innovative actives, and proactively addressing the industry’s concerns and needs.

What sets Salve Pharmaceuticals apart from other pharmaceutical companies?

Ajay Kakar: Unique products: Salve Pharmaceuticals has developed innovative and unique products that address unmet medical needs, which differentiates us from other pharmaceutical companies.

Research and development: Salve Pharmaceuticals strongly focuses on research and development, leading to the discovery of new drugs or therapies that stand out.

Quality assurance: Salve Pharmaceuticals has an exceptional quality assurance system that ensures the safety, purity, and effectiveness of the products.

Customer service: Salve Pharmaceuticals provide excellent customer service to their clients, including healthcare professionals and patients

Ethical practices: Salve Pharmaceuticals has a strong commitment to ethical and sustainable business practices, which distinguishes them from other pharmaceutical companies.

While many of our competitors primarily act as marketers by outsourcing their product manufacturing to third-party vendors, Salve takes a distinctive approach. We place great emphasis on conducting stability studies and performing extensive testing before introducing any product to the market. This sets us apart, ensuring the quality and efficacy of our offerings.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting their own pharmaceutical company?

Ajay Kakar: Starting a pharmaceutical company is a complex and challenging endeavor that requires significant planning, expertise, and resources. If you are interested in starting your own pharmaceutical company, here are some pieces of advice to consider:

Conduct thorough market research: Before starting a pharmaceutical company, it’s important to conduct extensive market research to identify potential opportunities and challenges. You should identify the unmet needs of patients, analyze the competitive landscape, and understand regulatory requirements.

Build a strong team: A successful pharmaceutical company requires a team of experts, including scientists, clinicians, regulatory experts, business professionals, and more. Assemble a team with a diverse range of skills and experiences to ensure that your company can succeed in all aspects of the industry.

Develop a strong product pipeline: The pharmaceutical industry is highly competitive, so it’s important to have a strong product pipeline with a range of potential products. Conduct research and development to identify new compounds or repurpose existing ones to treat unmet medical needs.

Secure funding: Starting a pharmaceutical company requires significant financial investment, so you should secure funding from investors, venture capitalists, or other sources. You can also explore partnerships with larger pharmaceutical companies to leverage their resources and expertise.

Focus on regulatory compliance: The pharmaceutical industry is heavily regulated, and compliance with regulatory requirements is critical to success. You should have a strong understanding of the regulatory landscape and develop processes to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations.

Embrace innovation: The pharmaceutical industry is constantly evolving, and new technologies and approaches can lead to breakthroughs in drug development and patient care. Embrace innovation and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and advancements to ensure that your company stays ahead of the competition.

Starting a pharmaceutical company is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. By following these pieces of advice, you can increase your chances of success and make a positive impact on the lives of patients.

What are your future plans for Salve Pharmaceuticals?

Ajay Kakar: We have planned various strategic initiatives that would drive growth for the company in the coming years. Increasing our production capacity, constant R&D for product developments and improvements, and focus on increasing product line are top priority for us.

We initially began with a selection of moisturizers and have since grown our range to encompass a diverse portfolio of 400 products.

Our operations extend beyond manufacturing products solely for our own brand, as we also serve the requirements of other customers who value our exceptional quality.

We will strengthen our B2B initiatives by onboarding new clients and continuing to help them with our expertise.

What are your success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?

Ajay Kakar: It’s essential to conduct market research to validate your idea and identify your target audience. A well-thought-out business plan that outlines your goals, strategies, and financial projections is crucial for success.

Surrounding yourself with a strong network of mentors, advisors, and like-minded individuals who can offer guidance and support is also vital.

Persistence, resilience, and the ability to learn from failure are traits that every entrepreneur should cultivate.

Customer satisfaction is crucial, so ensure that your business is always prioritizing customers’ needs, as it will help you build a successful and sustainable enterprise.

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