Neil Patel

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Thomaz Srougi, the founder and former CEO of Dr. Consulta, has an inspiring story that stretches from the swimming lanes of Sao Paulo, Brazil, to the boardrooms of one of Brazil’s leading healthcare providers.

His journey is an amalgamation of competitive sports, public policy education, successful entrepreneurship, and an unwavering desire to solve social problems.

Listen to the full podcast episode and read the transcript here.

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Born and Raised in Sao Paulo

Thomaz Srougi was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil. From a young age, Srougi displayed a competitive spirit, participating in various sports, including swimming and soccer.

This spirit of competition, he says, instilled in him a drive to strive for high performance and a constant urge to challenge himself.

Discovering His Entrepreneurial Path

Following his time as a trader and after studying public policy in Chicago, Srougi realized the inefficiencies in the Brazilian government and the need to address significant social issues.

He believed the private sector could step in where the government had failed. Thus began his journey into entrepreneurship.

His first venture was a low-income home builder company, providing homes for people living in favelas.

The company scaled rapidly, providing homes for 30,000 families, fostering dignity, and improving lives. This success was a stepping stone, leading Srougi to explore opportunities in healthcare.

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The Journey of Dr. Consulta

Hailing from a family of doctors, Thomaz Srougi was always privy to the challenges of the healthcare sector in Brazil.

He recognized the massive demand for quality healthcare and saw the opportunity to create something impactful in this sector. Combining his passion for high performance and his understanding of healthcare from a unique angle, Srougi embarked on a journey to establish Dr. Consulta.

Dr. Consulta began as a primary care provider with a singular clinic operating as a scientific experiment. The goal was to deliver the best quality healthcare to the underserved and poor in Sao Paulo while building an extraordinary patient experience. It took two rigorous years for Dr. Consulta to achieve profitability, but this marked the beginning of the company’s exponential growth phase.

From there, the company expanded, opening multiple clinics across the city and growing by 100% year on year for five to six years. In 2018, after experiencing a growth stall, Dr. Consulta pivoted by launching a membership plan and becoming profitable before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

During the pandemic, Dr. Consulta had to close all its clinics and plan for survival for up to two years without revenue. Despite the difficult circumstances, the company came out stronger post-pandemic, seeing more patients than before but with fewer clinics, thanks to the power of technology.

Becoming a Health Insurance Provider – A Strategic Step

Dr. Consulta then took a strategic step in 2021 to become a health insurance provider, bringing health insurance to the dreams of many Brazilians. The company is currently in a strong position, growing robustly and continuing to serve a large patient base.

As a testament to Srougi’s commitment to continual innovation, Dr. Consulta today functions with three different models of access – as a payer with its health insurance program, as a provider, and also as an out-of-pocket service provider.

With over 3 million patients and a growth rate of 50% per year, the company that started as a singular clinic in Sao Paulo has transformed into a health-tech giant, changing the face of healthcare in Brazil.

As it stands, Dr. Consulta’s journey is an inspiring tale of relentless drive, the power of technology, and a deep-seated desire to bring positive change in society.

The Fundraising Journey With Dr. Consulta

Starting a healthcare venture like Dr. Consulta in a country like Brazil came with unique challenges. As Srougi recalls, fundraising, in the beginning, was extremely difficult.

The concept of a hybrid healthcare model providing both primary care and health insurance was novel and required a leap of faith from investors.

However, the company’s unwavering commitment to addressing patient pain points, doctor pain points, and building a sustainable business model started to pay off. Investors who recognized the potential for improving healthcare in Brazil also saw the team’s robust strategy and purpose-driven model as attractive investment opportunities.

Dr. Consulta’s funding journey began with the support of a few high-quality investors who believed in the company’s mission.

With this initial capital, the team started building the foundation of Dr. Consulta, focusing on hiring a solid management team, bolstering the technology infrastructure, and expanding their medical care team.

Throughout its growth, Dr. Consulta has remained consistent in its transparency with investors, always prioritizing the needs of the company above personal interests.

This commitment to the venture’s vision, along with its successful execution, allowed the company to raise subsequent rounds of funding.

Expanding Company Operations and Sustaining Through the Pandemic

As of now, Dr. Consulta has successfully raised a significant sum of around $170 million. This capital has been instrumental in helping the company expand its operations, grow its patient base, and continually innovate in its service delivery.

Storytelling is everything which is something that Thomaz Srougi was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.

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Even as Dr. Consulta encountered financial pressures during the Covid-19 pandemic, the management made a strategic decision to sustain the company without compromising the quality of care provided to its patients.

Their ability to come out stronger post-pandemic attests to the resilience of the team and the soundness of their business model, further solidifying investor trust.

The fundraising journey of Dr. Consulta demonstrates the power of clear vision, transparent communication, and a strong team in securing capital for a start-up.

With a firm foothold in the market and a patient-centric approach, Dr. Consulta continues to attract investment as it reshapes healthcare in Brazil.

Navigating Challenges

Despite the impressive growth and success, Srougi’s journey had its share of rough patches. The company nearly folded at one point, and the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges.

But each crisis was met with resilience, innovation, and a determination to push through.

A Leadership Transition

Recognizing his strengths and limitations, Srougi made the decision to step down as CEO, assuming the role of Chairman instead.

He knew his forte was in strategy, technology, and vision, while he found running day-to-day operations less appealing. This decision was not just about self-awareness, but about putting the company’s needs above his own.

What’s Next for Thomaz Srougi?

Srougi continues to incubate new ideas. Currently, he is working on a project with a team of talented engineers and scientists, using technology and data to address more healthcare challenges.

The project is still in its experimental phase, with potential developments expected by the end of the year.

A Piece of Advice

If Srougi could go back in time and offer advice to his younger self, he’d emphasize the importance of sacrifice.

He believes that if you want to succeed, you have to be willing to sacrifice personal interests and even family time. It’s a hard truth, but in his experience, it’s necessary for success.

Wrapping Up

Thomaz Srougi’s journey is an inspiring tale of tenacity, resilience, and a commitment to improving lives.

His story illustrates how sports can prepare one for business, how social issues can inspire entrepreneurial ventures, and how knowing one’s strengths and limitations can foster better leadership.

Listen in to the full podcast episode to learn more about more, including:

  • Srougi’s journey from Sao Paulo to Chicago and Stanford
  • His initial career as a trader and entrepreneur
  • The founding and growth of Dr. Consulta
  • His international approach to team and business development
  • The future of Dr. Consulta and its influence on healthcare in Brazil


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Neil Patel

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