mClinica is a Singapore-headquartered health-tech company which provides data, analytics, and patient engagement tools for healthcare organisations in Southeast Asia. In 2017, mClinica closed a USD$6.3million series A financing round, with Simmonds Stewart advising the company.

Founder and CEO Farouk Meralli talked to us about mClinica’s journey to date and working with Simmonds Stewart.

the mClinica story

Whilst working for multinational pharmaceutical companies, Farouk identified issues in the healthcare sector in emerging markets. Pharmaceutical companies and public sector entities (NGOs and governments) lack access to consolidated data that similar companies in developed markets have. This is particularly so in Southeast Asia where pharmacies are mainly independent owner-operated businesses rather than the large branded chains that you see in established markets.

This led Farouk to start mClinica to connect pharmacies on a common mobile platform. The company launched in the Philippines in 2013, and has since expanded to Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.  By the end of 2017, mClinica had connected over 60,000 pharmacy professionals and 12,000 pharmacies on a single digital platform. This platform now addresses several challenges in healthcare including education and engagement of pharmacy professionals, pharmacy-driven patient programs, and last-mile data.

Farouk recently received the Public Health Innovator Award from Harvard University for his work with mClinica, and was the youngest ever recipient of the award.

challenges

Due to the fragmented nature of the healthcare industry in Southeast Asia, developing mClinica’s products was no easy feat. Farouk had to recruit healthcare professionals who also had expertise in mobile technology, engage with lots of government agencies and regulators, and develop products that were flexible enough to work in different health contexts. However, Farouk’s patience and vision has paid off, with its pharmacy network now reaching approximately 80 million patients per month.

The business has also been through some financing rounds and other corporate transactions along the way, which Farouk admits can be a big distraction from the day job of growing the business – like all entrepreneurs, he just wants to focus on solving real problems for end users.

raising a series A round

mClinica’s series A round was led by Silicon Valley fund, Patamar Capital (formerly Unitus Impact), and joined by UK based Global Innovation Fund, MDI Ventures, and Endeavor Catalyst. Existing investors also took part in the investment round.

The cap raise was to help mClinica grow faster and enter more markets across Southeast Asia.  By 2017, mClinica had a good profile in the regional tech and healthcare scene, and was known to investors.  The company therefore had the luxury of picking investors that had knowledge of the healthcare space and would offer the best long-term strategic value.

In the end, mClinica was able to secure investment from well-known international investors, all of whom believed in the vision of transforming healthcare in Asia. A term sheet followed, and once a lead investor was committed, was agreed fairly quickly.

Farouk described an important aspect of the transaction was discussing the term sheet openly with all interested parties from the outset. This included existing seed investors who required careful management to avoid roadblocks later in the deal process.

working with Simmonds Stewart

mClinica has worked with Lee Bagshaw since the incorporation of the business, including advising on seed funding deals with Kickstart Ventures, Spiral Ventures (formerly IMJ Investment Partners) and 500 Startups. Simmonds Stewart has helped the company with other corporate and commercial matters, aside from the series A deal.

Farouk says: I believe mClinica was one of Lee’s first clients in Southeast Asia. Therefore to some extent we’ve been on the journey together in what is an exciting but challenging digital market. We feel like we’re in safe hands with Simmonds Stewart. The team is very easy to work with and their VC transaction experience is second to none.

what’s next?

Since completing its series A financing, mClinica has continued to expand its pharmaceutical network, work on product development and grow its team. Right now, the focus is still on Southeast Asia, but mClinica’s products are also suited to many other developing countries worldwide.

As a transformative health-tech company operating in emerging economies, we’re proud to have been a part of Farouk’s journey to date.  The digital economy in Southeast Asia will play a great role in improving healthcare delivery over the next decade and mClinica is leading the way.