A winning combination can go a long way in business.
Dr. Pardeep Nijhawan believes it’s the reason why his Markham-based startup recently received multiple national recognitions for being one of Canada’s fastest growing companies.
Exzell Pharma, a niche pharmaceutical company whose headquarters are located near Brown’s Corners/Buttonville, topped Canadian Business’ list of Canada’s Top New Growth Companies for 2019 and was also ranked second in The Globe and Mail’s recently released Canada’s Top Growing Companies List.
“It’s been a pretty quick uptake and start, so it’s surprising to see that,” said Dr. Nijhawan, who founded the local company five years ago. “But at the same time, it’s something that we have a really good team around us so when you have a good team with great products, I think the combination makes it easier for success to occur.”
The Markham startup, which topped the likes of Shopify and Canada Goose in being recognized, boasts a two-year revenue growth of 6.204 per cent.
Dr. Nijhawan admits it’s nice to receive the accolades for all their hard work.
“I’m surprised because I didn’t expect this to be the fastest growing company,” said the Mayo Clinic trained gastroenterologist turned entrepreneur. “You’ve got the tech industry, the finance industry, the real estate industry. You got a lot of areas that are high, high growth and I didn’t anticipate to outpace them, but we did so it’s kind of nice to be able to see that and kind of move from there.”
The local company is looking to continue that growth and with the launch of a new marquee product called EsopH, which unintentionally coincides with the current ranitidine drug treatment recall (such as Zantac), they have their sights set on taking on the larger multi-national companies.
Dr. Nijhawan explains that Exzell Pharma’s success has really been based on acquiring existing products with existing revenues with the key goal of launching a new product with no revenues that needed to get Health Canada approval.
They got that product with EsopH.
“We were able to get that product approved by Health Canada and now that we’ve built the infrastructure using legacy brands or legacy products we’re able to now set up 2020 for our official launch of that product,” he said.
Dr. Nijhawan believes there’s a great market opportunity for the product because it works in treating esophageal reflux disease.
“When you look at it, certain products … have been found to have carcinogens in them and as a result their usage has dropped pretty dramatically and there’s no real good substitution,” he said. “Whereas we have our product EsopH that can really help patients recover from reflux symptoms, is a natural product that cause any health issues and again it does have Health Canada approval which is kind of nice.”
This isn’t Dr. Nijhawan’s first journey into entrepreneurship.
“I’m a serial entrepreneur,” he said with a chuckle.
His first company was Medical Futures, which he started back in 2002 and then sold in 2015 when he started Exzell Pharma. At the same time he has a clinic system called Digestive Health Clinic, which he says is the largest provider for endoscopy services in Canada.
He also started Edesa Biotech in 2015 and it’s now publicly traded on the NASDAQ.
“I enjoy the challenge and I enjoy being busy, and honestly I think the biggest component of success here is I’ve surrounded myself with professionals who know what they’re doing and who really got their A-game on at all times, so they’re able to help manage and grow the companies as well,” explained Dr. Nijhawan, who claims he inherited his love for entrepreneurship from his mom’s side of the family, while benefiting from a highly intelligent and logical father.
Markham, says Dr. Nijhawan, has played a big role in Exzell Pharma’s success. His company has been successful at attracting a lot of great talent by being located in the city. They would rather much stay in the area than make the commute to a big downtown office building in Toronto.
“Markham has actually become a nice hot spot for talent,” said Dr. Nijhawan, who grew up in the area and has been running businesses here for over two decades. “Whether it’s in marketing, finance, business it seems that we have a nice growth in population, so you really do have a full complement of professionals available to you and they actually want to come and work in Markham.”
Supporting Canadian products is also important to the local entrepreneur, which is why almost all of his products are made in Canada by Canadian manufacturers. You’ll find what he says are great Canadian brands that have been around for decades.
Brands like Swiss Natural and Myoflex, which are both over 60 years old and Ozonol, which has been around for over 70 years.
“We do have great legacy products that have been around with great data, great efficacy,” he explained. “To reassure consumers that when they buy a product made by Exzell they’re really getting high quality proven products that have great safety and great efficacy.”
“It’s always important to support and lean towards Canadian products because we are supporting ourselves and our economy,” he added. “That’s very important in the big picture for not only us, but for generations in the future.”
The serial entrepreneur says he has ideas for other businesses, but admits he has to tame himself and focus on what’s at hand.
“Let’s just get a couple of things taken care of before we move to the next level,” he said, before laughing out loud. “As you can imagine, there’s lots of interesting ideas, but the reality is we’ve got to take the ideas that we’ve already got to the commercialization phase and successfully commercialize though.
“I think that’s really the next key goal.”
Photo: Dr. Pardeep Nijhawan and his Markham-based startup Exzell Pharma topped Canadian Business’ list of Canada’s Top New Growth Companies for 2019 and was also ranked second in The Globe and Mail’s recently released Canada’s Top Growing Companies List.