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Two South African entrepreneurs are among 28 business owners from 15 countries that Endeavor, a global non-profit organisation that backs high-impact entrepreneurship, recently welcomed into its fold.
Graham Rowe and Richard Johnson (pictured above, left and right, respectively), of Joburg-based company Sancreed, were selected by Endeavor along with 19 other companies from around the world at the 71st International Selection Panel held between May 15 and 17, 2017, in Canary Wharf, London (see the full list here).
With their selection as Endeavor entrepreneurs the two will have access to a worldwide network of successful entrepreneurs, as well as mentoring and the chance to receive investment from Endeavor.
Their health platform Guidepost, which helps facilitate support and guidance for type-2 diabetes sufferers, won the attention of those on the selection panel, who included former WebMB chief marketing officer Reggie Bradford and Harvard Business School professor in healthcare startups Richard Hamermersh.
“It’s been weird, humbling and also pretty cool,” said Johnson, a former management consultant, in a phone call with Ventureburn yesterday.
With the use of coaches that utilise voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phones and biometric data updated by users, the platform helps guide diabetes sufferers on things like when to take medication, what diet to follow, the kind of medication to take and helps them cope with the psychological effects of the illness.
‘Selection experience has been weird, humbling and also pretty cool’
Such support, said Johnson, is key as only six percent of the 400 million people worldwide who have diabetes get proper treatment and medication. “Everyone needs help – everyone needs a mom,” added the entrepreneur.
Medical cost savings
In addition the platform can help medical-aid schemes to significantly reduce hospitalisation costs, as those that use the platform are 40% less likely to be hospitalised, he said.
He said in line with international numbers based on the company’s own research about nine percent of all healthcare spend in South Africa is related to diabetes, of which about 60% of that expenditure is related to hospitalisations.
South African medical schemes paid out R138.6-billion in 2015, according to the Council for Medical Schemes which publishes data in their Annual Report. This equates to R13-billion spent on medical treatments for diabetes.
Johnson said the platform can therefore help to bring down costs “substantially” through reduced unnecessary hospitalisation and better overall management.
The platform has been running for over two years and has over 5,000 registered users (including 30 in the UK through the National Health Insurance system) most of whom have been referred to the platform by their medical scheme.
Though he was reluctant to disclose Sancreed’s annual revenue, Johnson said the company has 30 employees as well as 16 coaches, who are spread across the country and help diabetes sufferers to cope with the illness and to take the correct medication.
He said the two have already added other chronic illnesses to the platform, including renal anaemia and arthritis and are looking to expand the list to include other chronic ailments.
He said he and Rowe have largely bootstrapped the company with their own money, including the injection of R5-million the two won a few years ago after participating in the “Big Break Legacy”.
The two were first referred to Endeavor about two years ago by the ex-COO of Accenture where Johnson once worked. After passing through a local panel the two were asked to present at the international selection panel to gain admittance.
Johnson said he hopes to use Endeavor’s exclusive network of 1,461 entrepreneurs leading 915 companies in 30 growth markets around the world to scale the company further.
The next international selection process takes place in Lima, Peru on 28 to 30 June.
Featured image: Graham Rowe and Richard Johnson pictured left and right, respectively (Supplied)