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“I am still amazed by our win,” says Krishna Mahesh (MBA 2005) of the top honors his company, Sundaram Medical Devices, was awarded in 2010 in the first annual HBS Alumni New Venture Contest. But Mahesh, the founder and CEO of Sundaram, a manufacturing start-up in Chennai, India, that is building high-quality, low-cost hospital beds, has a theory on what put his team—aided by the HBS Club of India—over the top.

“We identified a significant global market and focused on an unmet but essential need, as health care is not optional,” says Mahesh, who got a very personal perspective on India’s deep deficit of quality hospital beds when his mother faced a serious health crisis in 2008.

Since winning the Alumni New Venture Contest, which came with $25,000 and a mentoring opportunity with HBS faculty, Sundaram has grown from a staff of four to 16, and, after a stumble with outsourcing the prototype fabrication, has opened its first factory and hired an in-house industrial designer.

Manufacturing the beds in India keeps costs down, and making them both upgradable and compact gives buyers—Indian health care institutions—the opportunity to increase capacity [more beds in less space] and revenue without compromising quality of care or the comfort and safety of patients, says Mahesh. “I think our bed, in a very Adam Smithian way, showed how capitalism, when it focuses on basic human needs, means doing well results in doing good,” he adds.

The start-up has completed two rounds of in-hospital tests and is closing in on its first sale, says Mahesh, whose young family now figures in his goals for Sundaram’s future. “I hope we can be an integral part of building a high-quality health care industry in India, and that I can create an organization that will make my daughter proud.”

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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2005, Section B

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