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The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview: Vitor Asseituno of Sami
The Fund is a founder community and early stage fund, by founders for founders.
Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. This week the spotlight is on Vitor Asseituno, co-founder and President of Sami, a ‘virtual HMO’ that provides digital health insurance for small and medium businesses (SMBs).
Brazil has the second largest private health care market in the world (after the United States). In a country with over 212 million people, only about 20% of the population has access to private health care. Many of those who do have private health insurance are plagued by negative experiences and face a cost increase of 20-30% every year, making it impossible to continue to pay for their coverage. Sami is a platform that is changing the perception of private health care with their innovative health insurance plans. They make healthcare simple, efficient and friendly. Their goal is to reorganize the space with simplified solutions and having the patient at the center of care. Co-founders Vitor Asseituno and Guilherme Berardo wanted to create something really impactful in healthcare, so they used a model that is broad and easy to understand - health insurance. Everyone knows you pay a monthly fee and you get certain coverage, but they’re taking this traditional idea and changing the incentives and changing the model from the inside out.
Vitor is a physician, while Guilherme comes from the financial market. Both founders have a background in healthcare and bring unique perspectives and strengths to the company. Vitor founded and sold a trade show company and Guilherme started a hospital and network of clinics. They founded Sami in 2018 and before the pandemic they had 22 employees. In 2020, Sami raised a $15.5M Series A, which was the largest ever by a healthcare company in Latin America at that time. In 2021, their company grew 47% per month and they now employ over 500 people around the world. They plan to raise a Series B this year to continue to scale their dream of making life better for everyone in the healthcare industry: patients, companies, doctors, hospitals, and laboratories.
Saúde do jeito que você sempre quis! Health the way you always wanted!
What's Sami’s “North Star”?
Access! We want to serve millions of people all over Brazil and Latin America. 75% of our members didn't have private health insurance before using us and we want to maintain that number as we grow and expand. It’s awesome because we’re helping so many people, especially low income families, who haven’t been able to afford private healthcare insurance in the past.
How does Sami inspire “customer love”?
Most people’s preferred feature is the family physician. People really appreciate seeing the same doctor and we really make it a top priority to hire good physicians who are caring and dedicated to the patients. In addition to quality care, our prices are 20% cheaper than traditional insurance. By using the gatekeeper model, which is uncommon in the private sector in Brazil, we are able to keep the costs and annual increases lower. Finally, there are over 9,000 gyms included in our insurance plans, and our customers love the access to a gym membership.
What sets Sami apart from competitors?
One of our advantages is that we started 5-7 years after other digital health insurance companies were emerging. We spent over a year vetting the benchmark healthcare companies from all over the world, so we were able to replicate what was done right and improve and adapt to the problems and challenges that others faced. We are different from competitors in many ways. We’re one of the few and only health insurance companies in Brazil who don’t use brokers; we sell directly to customers - for the moment SMBs. We also work with fewer hospitals than other traditional networks, but that’s because we pay more for the fewer we have, which results in better quality hospitals in the plan.
What have been some of the greatest challenges in founding Sami?
Internal management is always a challenge, especially when we grew 20 times during the pandemic. We try to make the right decisions by not wasting money and acting quickly. We’re building a health tech and we’re getting physicians, nurses, developers, designers and so many more people to all work together in a way they’ve never done before. There’s a lot of internal change and explanation and people who are used to working a certain way for the past 10-20 years are now forced to learn another way of doing things and become changemakers. It’s difficult to learn and grow at the same pace. We are working to support our employees through this process of healthcare transformation.
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