Egyptian entrepreneur, Amir Barsoum, has devoted his life to democratising and access to healthcare across Africa.
Just like most vibrant entrepreneur success stories, Amir face several roadblocks, before launching Vezeeta, a leading health booking platform in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Having studied pharmacy, Amir started a distribution business in Egypt to aid the distribution of drugs to people, but this was soon short-lived with with his mind set on working for global companies.
A window of opportunity soon opened for Amire. With an irresistible resume at the age of 24, he got an offer at McKinsey, a global management consulting firm.
Soon he got other opportunities at major multinational pharmaceutical companies, of which one was AstraZeneca. This gave him a broad and global perspective on the healthcare industry.
Vezeeta is now a globally recognised name with operations on four continents with over $73 million raised in capital.
Top-tier investors, including VNV Global, Crescent Enterprises Venture Capital, Beco Capital, and Gulf Capital, have funded the health tech start-up.
Amir Barsoum’s path to entrepreneurship
Amir Barsoum always envisioned himself as an entrepreneur, but never in tech.
His family’s line of pharmaceutical business has always been on the traditional level. So he always saw himself taking over the business chain rather than launching a health tech startup.
Once Barsoum got his Bachelor of Pharmacy from Ain Shams University, and his MBA from the American University of Cairo, he was stuck between the option of working in a pharmaceutical retail shop or working for a company.
With his distaste for the two options, Barsoum started a pharmaceutical distribution company which focused primarily on Egypt.
However, Amir sold and exited the distribution business of about 120 employees when he was 21 years old.
“ I didn’t make real money out of this, but I think the learning was amazing and immense, especially for somebody that was 21 years old and out of college,” Amir said.
After the acquisition of his company by an Iraq investor, Amir’s next dream was to work for a multinational company and learn how they operate.
“I built my resume to be an amazing one, I thought it was an amazing one, with the achievement I got with the previous company. I decided to go and apply to a different multinational company and every single one of them told me no because I have never worked at a multi-level before.”
After 6 months, Amir got two offers from McKinsey and L’Oreal. He chose McKinsey.
The launch of Vezeeta
Amir worked for many fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and healthcare organisations in the public and private sectors in Europe and the MENA. Then he oversaw AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals’ MENA market strategy.
It was there Amir noticed the large pitfalls of the health sector globally. He observe how patients had to wait for hours to see the doctors in major AstraZeneca branches which were located in Germany, London and Saudi Arabia.
This pushed him to launch Vezeeta in 2012, to combat this problem. To him, Egypt was the perfect starting point because of the availability of tech talents and how knowledgeable he was of the market.
Amir Barsoum furthered his plans by getting a certificate in executive education from Harvard Business School which was focused on building startups.
It wasn’t easy scaling the business, so he had to pivot the business after almost getting bankrupt.
While pivoting from a company that was doctor-focused to a patient-focused platform, Vezeeta had to downsize from 53 employees to 6.
Soon the new business model of giving authentic reviews of doctors, physicians and pharmacists to patients became a success. Now the company has raised over $73 million in capital.
Amir was chosen as an Endeavor Entrepreneur in 2014. In 2016, he joined the board of directors of Endeavor Egypt.
Amir is a member of the Entrepreneur Organisation (EO) as well. He made the Fortune 40 under 40 list in 2020.
More on Vezeeta
Vezeeta, is a leading online healthcare booking platform and practice management system in the MENA area.
From a simple concept, Amir Barsoum grew this company into one with over 40,000 medical doctors that use the platform on a daily basis, and 7 million patients across different verticals.
The platform is currently operational in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Kenya, and Nigeria. They continue to introduce products that improve people’s lives as they work to dominate every facet of the healthcare sector.