Is There A Proven Way to Stop Failures Of Small Pharma & Biotech Ventures?


How the Enneagram can be utilized by small Pharma-Biotech founders. The Synergy between Psycho-Spiritual Development and Organizational Performance.

~ By V. Vijaykumar and Ram Ramanujam

Independent Consultant and Enneagram Expert * **Founder and CEO, Propinquity Genomics. The authors are alumni of the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA.

The Indian Biotech Industry has more than 5000 start-ups at this point. Many of these start-ups have been founded on BIRAC grants or pre-seed or seed money and are looking for second-round funding for their business. This is usually a source of acute pressure for the founders as they struggle to gather momentum in a tough marketplace. Many of these start-up founders tend to be middle-aged or even younger. While they may have lots of professional experience with varying degrees of success, it is not likely that they will have advanced personal growth which is increasingly coming to be realized as important to handle life in the business arena more capably and healthily. The focus of the founders often tends to be on revenues, valuation, funding and personnel. Very little attention is given to the psychological integrity and capability of the individuals concerned. As the reader of this article might know we are at a time where we want to live a quality life with our kith and kin while still succeeding in business. Call it a lack of time or know-how, biotech founders being technically savvy are not likely to have a lot of information about psychology or spirituality. So they often have to contact a coach who is familiar with the rigours of work and business while being proactive about placing one’s interest to live life effectively over merely financial success.

The Enneagram

The Enneagram is a well-known tool that can greatly help the careerist in navigating his priorities while still effectively contributing to his organization. In the following, we are summarizing some deep and technically attractive reasons why coaching with a seasoned Enneagram practitioner will greatly help the start-up founder. This is also supported by the author’s association with coaches who have worked at the psychological level with start-up founders in Estonia which is home to several innovative companies in the world. In the USA where the enneagram is famous, many silicon valley entrepreneurs have adopted its successful methods.

The Enneagram is a powerful psycho-spiritual system with origins in the Middle East and roots in various religions. It came into the public in the 1930s through the work of Gurdjieff and was later developed by Oscar Ichazo, a Bolivian mystic who is supposed to have travelled to India. Since the 80s a lot of research took place in the United States on the Enneagram and today we have a whole body of coaches and practitioners who have built knowledge on the system. Even corporate CEOs have been exposed to the Enneagram in the US and find it invaluable in navigating the tricky contours of people psychology and management. In the US most of the start-ups are valuated with IP monetization and there is a clear pathway for further funding.

However, in India, entrepreneurs are left to fend for themselves to raise not only seed capital and further funding but also ensure organizational development, which poses significant challenges. The founders wear out after some intense pressure and mind-boggling issues at hand. Focus is important and Enneagram Coaching brings back solitude, a focused mind and psycho-spiritual adaptation to manage the developing organization with kids’ gloves. Today’s workplace is riddled with tremendous competitive advantages, but to make use of such avenues, enneagram pathways will help motivate researchers and entrepreneurs, who have a mind to succeed in tough times. Today’s economic conditions are very challenging amid geopolitical downturns and entrepreneurs find themselves juggling towards raising funds and maintaining the organization. This is where the enneagram plays an important role in self-development.

The Enneagram & Self – Developement

Self-knowledge is often the most underrated quality that individuals possess. Many people think they know themselves and are often ignorant when it comes to taking action or making decisions or creating something. They have only a superficial knowledge of themselves and it is based on common experience. Many people have an even lesser knowledge of other people which doesn’t stretch beyond likes and dislikes or fairly obvious traits like desire and pleasure. The Enneagram offers a very detailed description of personality types often with pinpoint accuracy and depth. As one identifies what type one is and goes into the detail of their motivations, behaviours, fixations and conflicts, he comes across a treasure house of knowledge about himself and others. This enables him to better strategize himself and others as to what work can be done easily and brilliantly that will generate value for the company and the market. For example, someone might be a wonderful mediator or a leader whose qualities come out as they are put in those roles. On the contrary, someone may be a lousy creator or a nurturer and so it is good to keep them away from such roles.

Many start-ups fail, biotechs often do, data says. One common reason is that the personnel and the founders do not get along very well. Conflicts are common and they can paralyze the ability of the people involved in implementing their plans successfully and engage in productive work. There are various theories about conflicts – we won’t go into them but suffice it to say that conflicts if left unattended can deteriorate and completely overthrow the structure of the enterprise. We have seen companies fold only due to conflicts even though the personnel were highly educated. The Enneagram once again comes in handy in throwing light on why there are opposites in people. For example, someone who might be wanting to work with fun and zest may not like it if they are restricted. Or a subordinate may not like a boss who is very status conscious in his behaviour. There are many such pressing opposites in people which come out in interactions and transform into conflicts. The Enneagram presents a complete map of what are synergizing behaviours and what are trouble spots for each type of personality. It also emphasizes the idea that conflicts have to be understood before they could be resolved. The Enneagram promises ways for complete integration and a smooth way of operation and management by going deep into what afflicts people under stress and security at work.

We have seen that one reason why companies don’t flourish or even survive is they don’t grow. The pressures of running the business, meeting customer demands and testing the market means there is no time or opportunity for reflection and thinking. To make matters worse founders or other personnel may be highly ambitious and desirous in their pursuit of success. This means they have to go against the tide in most situations. This constant upstream movement means they need great personal strength. Since many founders are young these days they don’t have the personal growth needed to turn their enterprise into a success. This is when the Enneagram could be useful as it offers a clear pathway for growth based on fundamental theory and experience. Personality types move in specific directions the Enneagram declares. With the help of a coach, the start-up founder can understand what he habitually tends to do and what he would like to see himself doing. He realizes what is positive stress and security and how these play a role in totally transforming the personality. He witnesses capabilities and life direction never seen before. More than that he can integrate his family and community with his work life and lead a healthier lifestyle and gain in efficiency. He feels his potential is finally realized with a possibility of a more successful enterprise.

Once the company is in stable shape it is time to think about direction and development. I have seen many situations where the organization has tanked because of poor leadership.

There is a amount of literature on leadership and it is not our intent to skim over it. Suffice it to say that today’s leader is very different from the leader of the 20th century. Today’s leader has to be caring of his people, have compassion and kindness not to mention the business acumen to go with it. A lot of material is available that talks about new leadership but no one tells you what to do to get there. Of course, short-duration workshops are not going to cut it. We need detailed work at the personal level with continues for a significant period. This is where the Enneagram could again be invaluable. It is intense, powerful, and deep and talks to you directly. It is interesting and intelligent enough to bind the reader or leader into a life-long practice of growth and understanding. Leaders come in various shapes and the Enneagram recognizes and gives methods for inner work and the possibility of touching that authentic self that is so needed in leadership these days. One also develops enough EQ and IQ through sustaining his study of the Enneagram and persistence with coaches and consultants. Welcome to 21st-century leadership. The Enneagram will ensure that it gets you there.

The Enneagram & Leadership

Everything works in relationship said the great Indian philosopher and spiritualist J Krishnamurthy. Today we live in times when entrepreneurs have enough money for their necessities. What is needed next is a relationship. This is what makes life worthwhile and happy. Today’s young founders are certainly aware that life has to be lived in its entirety. If the young businessman does not know how to relate he is likely to fail in getting funding. He is not likely to integrate his emotions and will not have the psychological safety needed to work freely with colleagues. This is the final piece in my campaign for the use of the Enneagram in business. Any work with the Enneagram for anybody invariably brings peace and calm to the person. The person can put into perspective what self-interest is and where his confidence lies. Having done that he is in a much better position to relate with everyone in the world wherever they are. The world is one large community he feels has reduced all those divisions in his mind. Marital relationships will improve and so will time spent with children. There is greater cordiality with people in the living community and office. There is more love and affection and needless to point out an entirely different way of managing and leading. All this is brought about by the glue called relationship which makes life much more livable and full of vitality and power.

We have in the above detailed how the Enneagram could be helpful for founders of start-ups in various areas such as self-knowledge, conflicts, personal growth, leadership and relationship. The Enneagram is not so popular in India but in places like Mumbai and Delhi, there are coaches and practitioners available. In these days of online delivery, one could hire coaches and trainers from foreign countries. It goes without saying what I have said above for start-ups goes for large companies as well. One has to select leaders with an interest in growing and psycho-spirituality. I will say that making use of the Enneagram means spending enough time on learning and testing. One cannot do it in a hurry and one also has to commit a small but significant amount of money.

Welcome to the Enneagram and a spiritual way of doing business. Welcome to a world of peace and love. Welcome to creating a far safer and more sustainable planet and a way of living. Welcome to a stress-free life and possibly a successful business which goes beyond profit as Jim Collins says.

The above suggestions are a signature to enneagram development and start-ups and one can immensely benefit from coaching. Those who are interested are advised to contact the authors for further business. Our email is

Dr V Vijaykumar, PhD.

Vijay has an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy from the famed BITS, Pilani in India. He then obtained a PhD degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Kansas in the USA. He returned to India and spent the following twenty-three years studying psychology and spirituality. He researched the Enneagram and integrated J Krishnamurthy’s teachings with the model. Vijay has worked in five Indian companies, including a start-up, where the experience only reinforced the idea that people and organizational problems have to be addressed before a company can succeed with products and services. Vijay has also researched organizations as to why they don’t evolve and the role of leadership. He has also spent time adapting Machine Learning ideas to study drugs and formulations. His recent experience has shown that start-ups and scale-ups have myriad business problems and to address them one has to understand the psychology of the people involved. This also happens to be the trend these days and Vijay wants to capitalize on his research to build organizations that are psychologically safe and commercially successful. He is currently associated with an English company called Resolve doing Business Development and has coaching clients. He regularly goes to the gym to keep fit and lives with his mother in Chennai.

Ram M. V. Ramanujam.

Ram is currently the Founder &CEO of Propinquity Genomics, Bangalore, India. Ram has 32 years of experience and is a seasoned biotech professional. He is a functional biologist having worked on Enzymology, Protein Chemistry, Microbial physiology, Nucleic acid enzymology and Genomics. Ram also has worked on Biologics, RNA Biology, and Genome informatics. Ram has work experience with global leaders spanning four countries US, FRG, Japan and India. Ram discovered a procaryotic TGase from B subtilis cells and is widely cited for this work in the late 80s. His name is listed in Icons Webster sporulating timeline history 2007. Ram also invented a technique for Rz diagnostics, in which he used FRET to monitor Rz reactions in real-time. He also is an RNA specialist who worked on Rz kinetics. Ram worked in the 90s with Regeneron USA and Biocon India. He also spent time at the University of Kiel FRG and NAIR Univ of Tsukuba Japan. He was a first generation Bioinformatician at DSQ and Satyam India and later continued as an intrapreneur at many start-ups including V Clin Bio labs India and currently a stakeholder, and Strategic advisor in Clevergene Pvt Ltd. India. Ram was guided by Dr James H Hageman and Dr Glenn D Kuehn of NMSU USA who hail from Dr Daniel Atkinson’s lab in UCLA and mentored by Dr Paul D Boyer. Ram’s Nucleic acids Enzymology advisor Dr Peter A Gegenheimer comes from the world’s leading labs Dr Sid Altman and Dr David Apirion and John Abelson. Ram’s Genomics mentor and advisor is Dr Andras J Pellionisz a triple doctorate, in Genomics, Biology and computer science from the USA and an informatic coach is Dr E G Rajan PhD., a World leader in Signal Processing and Image Processing. Ram is currently also commercializing his discoveries like Transglutaminase from Bacillus subtilis cells, for various Food and Industrial applications.

Ram is also looking at Commercial ventures involving Genomics and Genome Informatics, concentrating on Fractal Genomics and Cancer Genomics with Internationally Renowned Figure Dr Andras J Pellionisz, his collaborator from Silicon Valley USA. Ram has current responsibilities as global business development, Strategic planning and development, organizational development, Techno commercial activities, and fundraising activities. Clevergene is poised to become a world leader in Novel Genomics and Genome Analytics Technologies, and Ram is currently deeply involved in its development into a global leader. Ram has taught and lectured in various Universities including NMSU USA, and KU USA, and offered Genomics lectures as Visiting Faculty in many Universities and Private Colleges in India. Ram is a committed individual, with a perfect combination of Biology and IT having worked in Various types of organizations like Product and service sectors, and blessed with a skilled eye for detail and exceptional timely executions of Projects and succinct performance. He organized the 2012 ICSCI conference life sciences track as a convener, And ICETT 2012 Life Sciences conference in India and now is the Chief Coordinator & convener for the Genomics, Genome Analytics and Precision Medicine track of the ICSCI conference being held in Hyderabad by 2017 March 9-12. He is in the process of Coordinating the 2023 conference on Drug Discovery genomics and Ai ML NLP to be held by Pentagram Technologies, in HYD India. Currently, he is the Founder and CEO of Propinquity Genomics Inc., Bangalore.


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