Medical Hemp Startup WHOLELEAF, One of India’s first licensed medical hemp companies raises seed money of 1.5 CR from ah! Ventures Angel Platform and other Angel Investors such as Zhooben Bhiwandiwala (President, Mahindra Partners & Board member, Mahindra Group), Animoor Sengodan Prabu (MD, SPK Group), and Harsh Bhagchandka (Director, M2K Group) among others have invested in this round.
Globally, hemp is one of the fastest growing industries in the world with multi-billion dollar buys in are coming from big pharma companies such as Pfizer, Dr. Reddy Labs, Arena Pharmaceuticals, etc. The global market size in 2021 was USD 30 Billion, set to grow to a whopping USD 200 Billion by 2028. India is a huge market with an addressable market size of USD 2 Billion wherein over 70% of the entire population i.e. 700 Million people are using herbal medicines as a primary source for their healthcare needs. Wholeleaf is one of the first in its class to tap into this billion-dollar revenue-generating industry while in its infancy.
Founded in 2020, Wholeleaf provides a solution to one of the largest remaining unresolved problems that exist in the world today – Relief from Chronic and Neuropathic pain without the long-term adverse effects of generic chemical pain management drugs. Their medical hemp-based formulations provide a one-stop solution for pain management, by not only relieving pain but also relieving problems pain is often accompanied by, such as insomnia and anxiety.
The startup is working with some of the top medical physicians and product formulators in the country and has been awarded licenses for multiple formulations that relieve specific pain conditions such as Headaches & Migraines, Joint pain, Muscle pain, Cancer Pain, and Peripheral Neuropathy. They are also currently conducting clinical trials in partnership with one of the largest medical companies in India to establish credibility in the medical fraternity and build brand recall. While this is one of the first studies being done in India, Globally there are multiple such studies published in medical journals with proven results.
A recent study published in the medical Journal of Head and Face Pain concluded that medical hemp has multiple therapeutic benefits, especially in the treatment of pain, which also applies to the treatment of migraines and headaches. There is also supporting evidence that it assists in opioid detoxification and weaning, thus making it a potential weapon in battling the opioid epidemic. Another study published in Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. concluded that medical hemp is a safer and more effective treatment for neuropathic pain compared to traditional treatments. Studies published by the National Institute Of Cancer deem medical hemp products to be an effective treatment for multiple cancer-related symptoms and side effects including chronic and neuropathic pain.
Commenting on the announcement, Shivraj Sharma, Founder, and CEO, of WHOLELEAF says, “Pain is a huge health concern, over 13% of the entire Indian population is suffering from chronic pain. It actually is a hidden crisis because has multiple therapeutic benefits these conditions impact all aspects of life, be it social, physical, or mental. Pain patients are also reported to be more anxious and depressed. A lot of these people have to resort to chemical pain management drugs, prolonged use of which is known to cause serious adverse effects and can even be fatal. That’s where we come in! The reason I got into this industry was that I saw first-hand the effectiveness hemp medication had on a family member experiencing terrible side effects due to cancer and cancer medication. Within a short duration of administration, there was marked improvement in her condition, especially the pain! That’s when I decided to do a deep dive into the industry and soon realized the gap in the Indian market for high quality, effective, and lab-tested medical hemp products built around transparency.“
Shivraj Sharma also added, “Our goal is to see a ‘Pain-Free India’ by building clinically validated proprietary formulations for pain relief. To that effect, I have spent the majority of my time gathering data and creating a pool of some of the leading medical physicians and product formulators in India to develop high-efficacy formulations targeted toward relieving focused pain conditions. We had a few key objectives that we had set out to achieve when we raised pre-seed investment in 2021. Apart from growing revenue, we wanted to establish early product market fit, understand how to create product needs and awareness, and build long-term defensibility. I am proud to say that we have successfully worked on these and are now ready to take things to the next level. All our growth so far had been mostly organic, the majority of the funds being raised now will be utilized towards pushing the products out and building data through clinical trials.”
Rohan Bansal, Deal Lead – Wholeleaf and Venture Partner – ah! Ventures said, “ah! Ventures have always believed in supporting Startups with an ambitious team who have the vision to club their business by making a meaningful impact in the sector they operate in. We believe that WHOLELEAF is operating in a space that is set to gain a lot of precedence due to the renewed focus on the Healthcare sector. WHOLELEAF has set its sights right with its focus on the chronic pain segment, which remains largely unresolved and is growing year on year due to factors such as changing lifestyles as well as the ageing population in India. It caters to the unfulfilled needs of pain patients which is a huge gap in the Indian market. We are glad to support WHOLELEAF at this stage”.