Phacil: facilitating the digitalization of pharmacies
Born from a collaboration with a pharmacist, Phacil is a tool that allows pharmacies to become digital easily and quickly. We met with Alexandre Deniau, co-founder of this start-up and 2015 Graduate of IÉSEG’s Grande École Program, who tells us a little more about his experience with Phacil and IÉSEG.
Can you introduce us to Phacil?
Phacil is a tool for pharmacists to help them digitalize their products and services easily and quickly, with a small budget. Today, many regulatory, legal and logistical constraints (notably, home delivery is not well developed) make it very complicated for pharmacies to digitalize their offer to deliver medicines to their patients’ homes. It is time consuming and the budgets can be high, especially the first year. All these barriers do not help with the digitalization of the end of the healthcare pathway, therefore, very few pharmacies are online.
With Phacil, our goal is to help the digitalization of this part of the healthcare pathway by offering a tool that is very simple to use for pharmacists, quick to set up and very affordable, which allows pharmacists to easily propel their pharmacy online in order to be able to deliver medicines with or without a prescription to their patients’ homes. Today, more than a hundred pharmacist partners trust us, and we are a team of 6 people to develop our business.
When and how was Phacil launched?
The project was really built up gradually, in collaboration with a pharmacist. At the beginning, the idea was similar to a “Deliveroo” for pharmacies, but that’s no longer the case at all. We do not focus only on home deliveries because we realized that there is much more to be done to help pharmacies go digital, and that our real added value lay there. We launched a first free version of Phacil in 2020 (just before the first containment), and started marketing the platform in January 2021.
What does an entrepreneur’s life look like in 2022?
That obviously depends on where they are in the process. There are many lives in an entrepreneur’s life. Time goes by really fast, you’re passionate about what you’re doing and there’s a lot to think about every day. It is generally very intense.
You were incubated at IÉSEG the first year, what did it bring to you?
The Incubator helped us to get started with research in an innovative but also very closed sector. It’s not easy at the beginning to establish yourself in the pharmaceutical world. It’s a great advantage to be able to benefit from the Incubator, to have access to perfectly located premises, to be surrounded and supported by other entrepreneurs, with whom we can discuss the pitfalls to avoid. The Incubator also offers solid support from people with real entrepreneurial skills. For IESEG entrepreneurs who are just starting out, I advise them to join the Incubator.
As a IÉSEG alumni, how did your courses help you prepare your entrepreneurial project?
The courses bring soft skills, which are very useful for the future: project management, time optimization, interpersonal relations… We also learn how to manage to draw attention. In terms of hard skills, I was in the finance field. Accounting and auditing help me today for day-to-day management. It allows me to deal with certain issues by myself without having to call in an expert, and to understand quickly the stakes regarding some important decisions to be made. I worked in audit at Deloitte for 2 years after my master, and it still helps me today.
What are your plans for the future of Phacil?
We want to expand into other countries like Spain, where we just launched our solution in November 2021, and Italy. At Phacil, we consider that France, Spain and Italy constitute a single market, as these countries have very common characteristics in terms of persona and regulations. Our tool is a SaaS, so we can easily market it in these countries, with few adaptations. Our first objective is to establish our launch in France and Spain, and to confirm the success of our offer by developing our market share as much as possible, before possibly launching in Italy within a year. If we manage, within 5 years, to develop our market share in these three Latin countries, it would already be a great achievement: in total, this represents no less than 63,000 pharmacies to conquer.
Do you have any advice to give to future entrepreneurs?
You have to look directly for ways to generate revenue, without looking for perfection, because the product will not be perfect anyway. You shouldn’t be afraid of taking the plunge, of trying to sell a product or service that is not yet 100% perfect in your eyes – this is the best way to get real feedback from customers, and to make your product evolve.