There are people worldwide with the financial resources and will to help, and there are people in need of this aid to live healthier lives. Channelling the funds appropriately and ensuring they’re used for the intended purpose is where it gets tricky. KimboCare is a blockchain-enabled digital health platform that allows anyone to purchase medical services for an individual who cannot afford them. With the help of technology, the platform makes the entire care journey seamless, transparent and secure for the giver, patient and healthcare provider.
Sending Care With Confidence
Born and raised in Africa, Franck Tiambo, Co-founder, KimboCare, and his sister moved to Switzerland to pursue their studies in 2005. Franck felt the need for a solution like KimboCare when he was sending money for a loved one’s health care but wasn’t sure how it was being used. “It would get used for other priorities like education or food. With the leftover limited money, they would access lower quality care which led to their condition becoming chronic and more expensive to address,” recollects Franck.
He pursued mathematical studies at EPFL in Lausanne and an Advanced Master’s degree in Actuarial Science in France. With a background in risk and fraud management, Tiambo has worked mainly across Europe and Africa. “I also have strong expertise on everything related to digital transformation for insurance and financial institutions,” he adds. Meanwhile, his sister has experience in go-to market strategy for large companies in healthcare and financial services. Together, they decided to start KimboCare in November 2019.
“It’s easy for anyone to use the services on KimboCare,” says Franck. Once a user signs up, they select the patient, services and provider. They make a prepaid purchase in the form of KimboCare health credits and the benefits are released to the provider after the services have been delivered. Once the order is confirmed, the patient receives an SMS while the provider receives a notification on their KimboCare interface. The giver receives notifications that allow them to monitor the care. “This ensures trust and transparency in the entire healthcare triangle of patient, provider and giver. If that’s missing on any side, it affects the quality of care,” says Franck.
KimboCare also has a health index, a measure of the health footprint, which Franck compares to one’s carbon footprint. “For the individual, it’s the impact they are making on the health of people around them. For the provider, it is the quality of care they’re delivering,” explains Franck. KimboCare’s health index is based on certain criteria to assess the level of quality or impact one can have.
Franck is particularly proud of the level of security and privacy KimboCare ensures for its users. “We make sure that all the data is well stored and safe”, he says. The startup has partnered with Microsoft to protect the data. “We have very advanced protocols which encrypt all the data so people can feel safe when they’re using our platform,” adds Franck. Going the extra mile for data safety is an extension of the startup’s founding vision of bringing trust to the healthcare ecosystem. “If we can assure that the data will be well stored, it helps us earn and preserve the trust from our different stakeholders.”
A Peek Into the HealthTech Ecosystem
For Franck Tiambo, the top struggles of being a HealthTech entrepreneur have been finding investors, talent and market fit. “There are studies saying that impact investing is almost stronger than traditional investing, but it is still difficult to pitch to traditional investors. It is not easy to find an impact investor,” he says. The founder believes it may also have something to do with trust. If there’s anything he could go back and do differently, he says, “I think I would find a White co-founder. It was difficult to come to that realization because we thought we had all the right skills but we realised it’s about trust, it’s about being part of a certain ecosystem.” Despite a solid professional career, being new to entrepreneurship and knowing only few people proved to be a challenge. “If we had someone who was more connected within the ecosystem from the start, we could have reached our targets faster.”
On the back of his learnings, Franck advises aspiring HealthTech entrepreneurs not to overlook the importance of being connected to the ecosystem. “It’s a huge ecosystem, and you can’t do it alone. Take the time to build the right relationships for your business. That’s how you can have a sustainable business for the long run,” he says. He also recommends planning your funding rounds ahead to make sure you won’t be hit by a liquidity event. “We often hear that all you need is a great idea to be successful. But you need to understand the funding path and then apply your idea,” notes Franck.
Since the startup is working with niche technology, finding the right talent has also been a challenge. As for market fit, Franck says, “It can get difficult because we have to understand the customer needs in relation to the other stakeholders in the ecosystem.” Trial and error is the only way to get around it. “There’s no magic. You need to do a lot of testing until you find the right path to your target”, notes Franck.
The motivation that drives the entrepreneur to work in HealthTech is the vision to make quality health care available to those who can’t afford it. “Quality care is a luxury, and we need to find ways to give this luxurious good to people who don’t have the money,” says Tiambo. He takes inspiration from Bill Gates’ vision of every family having a computer. “For me, I would say every family must have quality care. I’m confident that we can find smart ways to bring quality healthcare to low and middle-income populations.” Franck is convinced of technology’s potential to bring disruptive change to the ecosystem.
He is also excited by the complexity of healthcare and the prospects of making it simpler. Elon Musk is Franck’s inspiration for this goal. “He is not reinventing the wheel. He is taking something that already exists and combining it in different ways to deliver better services,” explains Franck. “It’s the same for healthcare. For now, it’s so complex. We need to think about how we can make it more straightforward. It’s something we’re exploring at KimboCare.”
Franck may not have a professional background in healthcare, but he believes his ideas are valuable from a patient’s perspective. “We are all patients at some point in our life. We’re trying to build solutions based on what one would expect from the system as a patient.”
Gaining Access With Galen Growth
Apart from being a HealthTech startup founder, Franck is also a father to four kids and an active community builder for African communities in Switzerland and France. Spending time with his family and friends helps him unwind from work pressures. “I can count on them in any situation,” he says. He also likes to engage in different sports like soccer, basketball and swimming. Though Franck notes that building a purpose-driven business is fulfilling in itself.
The best piece of advice he received was to not leave his full-time job until the business was well established. “I was lucky with my previous company. They were very supportive. KimboCare was aligned with the values of purpose, diversity and inclusion, and technology helping people at scale. This advice positioned me for the better,” shares Tiambo.
The entrepreneur appreciates Galen Growth HealthTech Cohort for the exposure. “You are doing a great job of connecting startups all over the world and helping corporates and other investors to better understand what they’re doing”, says Franck. “The different occasions to present what we’re doing is really helping us.” The access to expertise has also been valuable. “The legal aspect is put aside in the beginning, but this can hamper the business very quickly. The recent webinar with lawyers was interesting. More of such events with startup-focused experts will help”, he adds.
About Galen Growth’s 2021 HealthTech Cohort
KimboCare is part of the Galen Growth 2021 HealthTech Cohort, the only acceleration programme built to scale digital health startups to be the next generation powering healthcare innovation across the globe. For more information, visit Galen Growth’s HealthTech Cohort webpage or read this article on the launch of the Galen Growth’s 2021 HealthTech Cohort.