Brazilian health tech Sami raises a BRL 86 million round aiming to become a health plan operator

New Series A funding round was led by Valor Capital and monashees, and included the participation of Redpoint eventures and Canary

Sami co-founders Vitor Asseituno and Guilherme Berardo. Photo: Sami/Courtesy
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  • The company said its Series A funding amid the pandemic is the the largest in LatAm’s history for a health tech startup;
  • Sami board members include Alan Warren, former CTO of Oscar Health, and Paulo Veras, CEO and co-founder of 99, a Brazilian unicorn. 

The health tech startup Sami announced a BRL 86 million infusion, led by Valor Capital Group and monashees. Redpoint eventures and Canary also participated in the new round. According to the firm, this is the biggest Series A funding round ever raised for a health startup in Latin America.

The firm said that the new round will transform Sami into a health plan operator in Brazil.

READ ALSO: Launched amid the pandemic, Brazilian startup Alice wants to change the logic of private health care in the country

Founded in 2018, Sami develops solutions to address the main challenges of Brazil’s healthcare system, such as the high cost, inefficiencies and low quality of medical care. With this mission, Sami has attracted the attention of both regional and international markets and, so far, has raised more than BRL 90 million ($16.2 million) in total investments.

Sami has three well-known partners: Paulo Veras, former-CEO and founder of 99; Sérgio Ricardo dos Santos, former CEO of Amil, and Alan Warren, former vice president of Google and former CTO of Oscar Health, a digital health insurance operator invested in by Google that recently announced a planned IPO in 2021.

As a health plan operator, Sami will serve small businesses and professionals in São Paulo. As telemedicine in Brazil becomes more common, Sami co-founders Vitor Asseituno and Guilherme Berardo stated that it is the right time to help make healthcare more digital.

The firm recalls that Brazil is the second-largest private healthcare market in the world (beyond the United States), and the country faces escalating costs: in 2018, the average readjustment of collective plan contracts was 13.32%. Prior to that between 2013 and 2018, business healthcare plan inflation has ballooned by 158.35%. This is the gap that the startup wants to resolve.

READ ALSO: Boosted by the pandemic, Latin American techs are leaving commodities in the rearview mirror

“Sami wants to improve patient care and benefit the entire healthcare system in Brazil, which urgently needs a transformation. Today we find a difficult and bureaucratic contracting market that offers expensive and poor-quality plans; giving more value to the number of procedures than to guidance and coordinated healthcare. People pay dearly and at the time they need it, they can’t use it,” explained Dr. Vitor Asseituno, founding doctor and president of the startup.

At Sami we are guided by values ​​such as health intelligence, trust in the relationship and respect for the time and money of those involved. This leads us to a service that values ​​medical history coordinated with other professionals, preventative medicine with a health team available 24 hours a day through the application and a lot of respect and transparency in the entire process.

Dr. Vitor Asseituno, founding doctor and president of sami.

For Michael Nicklas, partner at Valor Capital Group, the sector needs a disruptive performance. “It is through technology that the health market will be empowered and Sami is applying this, with digital transformation, bringing transparency and increasing user interaction. With that, there are efficiency gains for companies and for the ecosystem as a whole,” he said.

According to Caio Bolognesi, partner at monashees, the turnaround in operation will be a major transformation in the sector. “We are very happy with the partnership with Sami. We see entrepreneurs on the team motivated to launch much more than a new health plan; they are rethinking all the incentives along the health chain to promote better care to their customers, with a much more attractive cost for companies. An equation in which everyone wins, ” he pointed out.

READ ALSO: From Tembici to CargoX, Valor Capital Group keeps investing in Brazilian startups amid the Covid-19 pandemic

For Rodrigo Baer, ​​partner at Redpoint eventures, it is necessary to completely rethink the sector. “With unhealthy incentives and a lack of management, the cost of healthcare plans has grown unsustainably; that is, fewer and fewer people are able to pay. Sami proposes to redesign the healthcare system, leveraging the availability of data and patient monitoring, to ensure quality care and controlled costs,” said Baer.

How is the health plan going to work?

The firm stated that with the new round of capital, Sami wants to be a pioneer in the management of the entire healthcare value chain, from hiring to hospital discharge, going through consultations, exams and procedures. The platform will offer primary care to the user and medical guidance for 24 hours a day.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Guilherme Berardo stated: “We are planning to attack the market’s monsters, companies with revenue as high as 20 billion reais ($3.56 billion)”. He promised prices as much as 30% lower than the competition, depending on the “cash-burn appetite of our investors.”

To LABS, Sami said the price will range around BRL 200-400.

READ ALSO: Wellness-benefits startup Gympass focuses on digital solutions and resumes growth

As of today, those who live in São Paulo and have a business registration (known as a CNPJ in Brazil) can register on a waiting list. The startup said the first customers will get a five percent discount on the annual contract and one year of free Gympass, the healthy living benefit unicorn in Brazil. Access to Sami’s platform will be made available in November to those who have subscribed to the list.

The startup created a partnership with accredited healthcare practitioners and offers them remuneration based on quality care and not on the volume of service. Sami’s first partner hospital will be BP – A Beneficência Portuguesa de São Paulo, where the company has a clinic for primary care.

(Updated at 1:56 pm)

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