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Four learnings from Ambler’s story to tackle the healthcare sector in France

Alison Imbert, Senior Associate at Partech, and in charge of the Paris Saclay Seed Fund's investments for Partech, met Ambler and its founders' team one year ago.

She shared 4 learnings and her advice about how a startup can tackle the healthcare sector in France 🚑 in a blogpost:


From hospitals and clinics to the broader French social security system, all French healthcare stakeholders are under constant budgetary pressure, and are struggling to rethink their operations and processes to gain efficiency. These constraints are ultimately putting the quality of patients’ care at stake and causing a certain impoverishment of professional working conditions, as demonstrated by the recent strikes in the emergency sector.

It opens up some huge business opportunities, but several questions then emerge: how to successfully step into the healthcare sector? How can disruptive private players efficiently work with public players? How to satisfy multiple stakeholders with multiple and even somewhat conflicting interests? How to move fast in a so-called slow-moving sector?

Here are 4 learnings from my experience with Ambler, a non-urgent medical transportation platform which has enjoyed early success in the French healthcare sector. My point here is to tackle some possible pre-conceptions on how a start-up should address this challenging market.

Ambler’s story 

Today booking an ambulance requires many low value-added tasks from calling several transporters to manually manage the billing. Hospitals and clinics don’t have adequate tools to manage it resulting a limited control that budget (5 billion euros spent in France). Ambler connects medical staff and medical transporters through an interface to book the most appropriate transport means for patients. It strives to be the French reference for non-urgent medical transportation by bringing efficiency and top-notch services for all stakeholders. I met Ambler’s founders exactly one year ago and invested shortly after in the company, leading their 1.5M€ seed round. At that time, Ambler was just a (brilliant) idea promoted by four ambitious, seasoned and experienced co-founders: Mehdi, Thomas, Nicolas and Julien. Only one year after the first ride, Ambler has already onboarded 40+ medical facilities on its platform and ensured 15,000+ rides. 

Learning #1: Targeting public sector from day one could be a good idea

You may think the public sector and the hyperactive startup world do not speak the same language and are on different timeframes. Well, guess what? You may be right. Public hospitals are often lagging behind when it comes to innovative processes, and their organization is sometimes a veritable maze.

Then, why should you start to address public players when you are not robust yet?

To get access to a large and defendable stronghold on that market benefiting from both growth potential and high entry barriers for your competitors. Public sector can be seen as a strong castle with deep moats surrounding it, this is not easy to enter but once you are in, you won’t be easily removed!

Ambler’s founders didn’t win on their first attempt — getting a deep understanding of the mechanics behind a tender is quite a hard job — but once they figured it out, it became much easier to replicate. And it opened up a large, challenging and sustainable market.

After less than 6 months of execution, Ambler was referenced by hospitals’ central purchasing (UniHA) and was already a step ahead of its competitors in the race to win public market, even more so when considering that each tender won is signed for at least the next 3 years. Today they have 10 public medical facilities and have attracted the attention of high officials to discuss future regulations of medical transportation.

As it takes time to grasp the public sector, you better start targeting it from day one to get access to a large and defensible market, and become the reference with a relevant know-how to scale.


Read it the whole blogpost on Medium.

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