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Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar Shaw Success Story

Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar Shaw Success Story

Biocon is India’s one of the largest biopharmaceutical companies which manufacture affordable Biosimilars, Generic formulations, and Complex APIs. Today, we will be talking about the story of this company’s founder, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, who is not just a successful entrepreneur, but thousands of people inspiration, especially women. She has made fame and wealth all on her own, with sheer hard work and perseverance, so stay with us to know her journey. You may learn something from her story.


Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is first generation Indian entrepreneur and philanthropist who is the founder of the biopharmaceutic firm – Biocon Limited in 1978 Bangalore, India, and Asia’s largest insulin maker. She is the executive chairperson of the company. In her journey, she has received many prestigious awards and recognitions, including the Othmer Gold medal (her exceptional contribution to the progress of science and chemistry), named on the business list of top 50 women in 2011 by Financial Times, in 2020, 65th most powerful woman in the Forbes list of world’s 100 most powerful women.

Early life and education

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw was born, on 23 March 1953, in a Gujarati middle-class family, in Bangalore, Karnataka state. Her father, Rasendra Mazumdar, was the head brewmaster at United Breweries. She completed her schooling from Bishop Cotton Girl high school. Later, she took a pre-university course from an affiliate of Bangalore University, Mount Carmel College. Also, she pursued a bachelor degree in Zoology from Bangalore university.

Kiran had a dream to become a doctor but couldn’t get a scholarship. Thus, she had to cast aside it. On her father’s suggestions, in 1974, she pursued a brewery course, which was not considered a good field for women. But it didn’t impact her studies. In fact, she topped in her class.

For higher studies, she went to Malting and Brewing, Ballarat Institute of Advanced Education, Melbourne, Australia. As far as her personal life is concerned, at the age of 44, she tied and knot with John Shaw in 1989. At the time, he was working as the chairman at Madura Coasts but left the job to join Biocon with Kiran. Since 2001, Johan has been serving as the Vice Chairman at Biocon.

Professional life and career

Kiran started her career as a trainee brewer at Carlton and United Breweries, Australia. And, later she also worked at Barrette brothers and Burston, as a trainee maltster, before returning to India to follow in her father’s footsteps as a brewmaster. When she came back, it wasn’t easy for her to find a job as a woman. Because, you know – there was a time when gender equality wasn’t even a topic in industries.

“One her interview, she mentioned that the brewing industry is a male-dominated industry.”

After a long fight, she didn’t get a chance to work as a master brewer in India. So, Kiran joined Jupiter Breweries in Calcutta as a technical consultant. A few months later, she started working as a Technical Manager at Standard Maltings Corporation, located in Baroda. Soon enough, she started looking for the opportunities that she truly wanted to do for a long time. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw mentioned in the interview, “I really wanted to do something with my life.”

What made her start Biocon?

She calls herself an accidental entrepreneur – because it was an unexpected meeting with another entrepreneur – who wanted to set up one of his company’s branches in India. His firm produced enzymes used in brewing, food packaging, and textile. He was looking for an Indian entrepreneur to assist in the formation of a subsidiary in India.  That’s how her Biocon journey began. Kiran had worked with this firm before. Leslie prepared her to work as a manager at his firm.  She returned to India and started working for Biocon in a leased garage in Bangalore with an initial investment of 10,000 INR after she acquired knowledge of the company’s operations and sales.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw started with Biocon in 1978 when Bangalore had yet to become the hub of technology in south India. Initially, Kiran faced many challenges because of her youth, woman, and her untapped business model. No bank was lending her money. She also found it challenging to recruit people to work for her start-up, in fact, her first employee was a retired garage mechanic. She admits – “I was determined to make a success of this business because I had failed to be a brewmaster.”

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw managed to persuade a few people to stand by her and fund her. That’s how she started her business. After getting her first funding, Ms. Mazumdar-Shaw opened her first factory nearby a 3000 sq. ft shed.  The extraction of papain (a papaya enzyme used to tenderize the meat) and isinglass were the company’s first efforts (Obtained from tropical catfish and used to clarify beer).

Biocon India was the first Indian start-up to make enzymes and deliver them to U.S. and E.U. markets within a year of its founding. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw invested her first year of profit for a 20-acre land with a plan to grow in the future. She moved the business into manufacturing medicines. The manufacturing and sailing enzymes gave her the cash flow to fund the research and production, which helped her firm to transform into a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company.

Expansion of Biocon

In 1984, She found some new dimensions. The company set up a research and development team to focus on the developments of an innovative solid substrate fermentation method. Biocon was the first Indian biotech firm to get funding from the U.S. Later, she started seeking alternative opportunities which were cost-effective as well as low-cost. Kiran started proposing drug companies be cost-sensitive in marketing to developing countries so that people can afford the drug they need.

By 2000, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw had established two subsidiaries of Biocon, including Syngene and Clinigene. Syngene offered a contractual basis for early research and developments, while Clinigene focused on clinical research trials and the development of both generic and new medicine. In 1990, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw incorporated Biocon Biopharmaceutical Private Limited (BBLP) to produce and market a select range of biotherapeutics in a combined two venture with the Cuban Center of Molecular Immunology. As of 2022, the company has generated $1.1 billion.

Achievement in Bord memberships

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is a member of the board of governors of the Indian School of Business and a term member of the board of MIT, USA till 2023. She is also a former member of the IIT Hyderabad. Kiran was the first woman to head the board of governors of the IIM Bangalore. She is an independent director on the board of Infosys and a member of the advisory-board of the MIT Jameel Clinic.

Few famous Awards and recognition

In 2022, she has awarded with Ratan Award for the year 2020 by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for Visionary leadership and successful adoption of quality practices at Biocon.

In 2021, appointed to the board of Trustees of the prestigious Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, U.S. for a term (3 years) In 2020, EY world entrepreneur of the year and EY Entrepreneur of the year India Award (2019). In 2020, She was ranked 68th most powerful woman out of the Forbes list of the World’s 100 women. In the same year (2020), she was awarded India’s business Leander of the year by VOGUE. In 2019, she awarded with Lifetime Achievement award at FICCI Healthcare Excellence. Hobbies and others.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw loves reading books and is also fond of writing books. She has written two books: “Ale and Arty” and “India’s Innovation Challenge” for inclusive development. End Note: – Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is the second richest self-made woman entrepreneur as well as the pride of the nation. Her struggles teach us that if you are doing hard work to achieve a goal, one day it will pay you.

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