Mumbai: An editing assignment threw up an idea that led to the founding of Cactus Communications Pvt. Ltd in 2002 by brothers Anurag and Abhishek Goel.

“I was in Japan on an exchange programme. I wanted to come back to India and start a company on waste management. A professor in the university asked me to edit his research paper. That is when we felt there might be a larger opportunity here for providing communication services in English," says Abhishek Goel.

With modest investment from their savings, the brothers started the company and for the first three to four years, focused exclusively on the Japanese market. Over the last 15 years, it has grown significantly and currently has a workforce of over 700 employees and offices in Japan, South Korea, India, China, the UK and the US.

Today Cactus is a fully integrated, global scientific communications company providing scientific and medical communications services to researchers, authors, scholarly journals, publishers, academic societies, and pharmaceutical and medical device companies. The firm’s annual growth has been about 35% over the last few years and it clocked revenue of over Rs250 crore in fiscal 2017.

Cactus has two main verticals; one is a retail segment under the brand Editage, which is a scientific research editing business.

The other is a business-to-business (B2B) segment that caters to the communication needs of global pharmaceutical and medical devices companies.

“For Editage, our typical customer is a non-native researcher who wants to get published in a western journal. We help him with different levels of editing and translation, journal selection and other publication support services. Our large markets are Japan, Korea, China and the US," Goel said.

Editage collaborates with journals, publishers, universities, and societies to provide editorial services to their authors, and to assist these institutions with customized pre-production support, including pre-peer review screening, language polishing, transcription, translation, and advisory services.

Editage has more than 2,000 professional editors. This expertise enables clients to overcome language, market, cost, and resource barriers, allowing them to achieve their communication goals. To date, Editage has served over 200,000 authors and has edited more than 750,000 papers.

On the B2B side, Cactus caters to the communication needs of biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device companies in the areas of regulatory submissions and journal publication. Cactus recognizes that its core strength is people and has therefore put in lot of effort to make the company a great place to work in. It has won numerous awards. It was ranked 12th by the National Association of Software and Services Companies in a survey of exciting emerging companies to work in, featured among the top 20 companies to work in survey by Great Place to Work Institute through 2011 to 2015 and was ranked number 1 in the survey for 2017. It also ranked 12th in the top 100 remote work places ranked by FlexJobs in 2017.

“First, we make sure the people who come in are very passionate. We have a very high benchmark on quality of people we recruit; language skills, domain knowledge and cultural fit. Second, we give people a lot of autonomy. And third, wherever structure is needed, we put it but we debate hard about whether we need rules, regulations and policies around everything. Policies are flexible and minimum," Yashmi Pujara, head of human resources at Cactus, said.

Goel said the company has an informal and flexible work environment (about 15% of employees work from home and barring a few teams, people can decide their work timings), and there is significant emphasis on appreciation of work, which motivates employees.

Cactus will focus on enhancing its B2B business, where it sees a lot of potential, while further strengthening its Editage business particularly in China, he said.

Growth opportunities are vast but Cactus feels it is constrained by internal bandwith and needs to build capabilities. That is a challenge because of the limited availability of people with the right skill sets.

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