Conversations with Anu Acharya, the poetry lover and entrepreneur in the field of genetics

At Conversations at YourStory, Anu Acharya chatted with one and all on her views on genetics, life, and entrepreneurship.

For the past four months now, Conversations at YourStory has been initiating weekly live chats with leading entrepreneurs, investors, and technologists. Some of the key people who have been a part of the initiative include Girish Mathrubootham, Mukesh Bansal, Shashank ND, and Ankur Singla.

The conversations have generally been centred on investments, funding, growth, company scale, and customer acquisitions, and today’s conversation with Anu Acharya, Founder and CEO, Mapmygenome, was in much the same vein.

However, apart from discussing the industry, genetic science, and what Mapmygenome does, Anu was also open to talking about poetry, books, and IIT KGP.

The love for adventure sport and entrepreneurship

Anu’s second venture, Mapmygenome was started in 2013. Her entrepreneurial journey had begun 17 years prior, in 2000, when she got back to Hyderabad from Chicago. She founded a company, called Ocimum Bio Solutions, which helps scientist do their research.

So, on being asked about what got her into the world of entrepreneurship, Anu said,

“My love for adventure sports probably explains my genetic affinity towards a high-risk sport like entrepreneurship. While no one pushed me off the cliff of jobs, my conscience probably nudged me. It has been a while and I love it in the entrepreneurship valley.”

With Mapmygenome, Anu aims to ensure that people are aware of their genetic makeup and work towards preventing diseases. She has always considered genetics a fascinating subject. However, India doesn’t have the same access as the West. The data available on Indian genomes is limited.

Bringing genetics to everyday life

When asked where she sees Mapmygenome in 10 years, the poetry, literature, photography, music, and fitness enthusiast said she sees it as a household name with a revenue of over $1 billion.

Mapmygenome is essentially a genomics company that helps individuals and physicians understand how genetics helps impacts health, traits, responses to medications, and behaviour. Elaborating on what they do, Anu said there are two main kinds of analysis:

  1. Preventive solutions like Genomepatri: This is for someone who is generally healthy and wants to know themselves better and take preventive steps to transform their lives.
“The way a Genomepatri is done is a kit is mailed to you with instructions on how to send us your sample. Once we get it, we perform several lab steps and then analyse your data. This part is done with no family history, etc. This report will give you information on your traits like caffeine consumption, cholesterol, and more,” she said.

The second part gives you information on disease predisposition, the third on inherited conditions, and finally on drug response. Once you get the report, the team can immediately schedule a counselling session with their board- certified counsellors to correlate it with your family history and lifestyle. Then a personalised secondary report is sent to you.

Anu said this helps understand your family history and disease predisposition better and give you specific action items that you can follow, including diet, lifestyle, and screening tests.

  1. The other is when someone is diagnosed with a disease, say cancer. They will first counsel either the physician or the doctor and suggest appropriate tests based on the condition and then based on the doctor/clinician, the test is given.

Mapmygenome, being both a B2C and B2B company, also has molecular diagnostics kits that specialise in tuberculosis and will be working on dengue as well. Anu added that there is a division in the organisation that works on infectious diseases.


Originally published: Yourstory