Q: How has the coronavirus affected the business and working methods?
A: When the pandemic came to Norway in March 2020, the demand for video consultations in the health sector exploded. The use of our product saw a hundredfold increase in the second half of March. The growth led to a massive workload in a short time, and we had to hire more staff immediately, especially within customer support and operations and development. We managed to employ fast by reaching out to people that had been laid-off or were out of a job. Before the pandemic, we were ten people, and in May 2020, we were suddenly 25 employees. Rather than working as ‘one’ team, we had to restructure the company and distribute tasks between multiples teams with their own goals and leadership.
Q: Were you in need of capital during 2020?
A: The need for new capital arose quickly due to the growing user base, which entailed extra costs (but also additional income later in the year). In May 2020, we raised capital from SNÖ. We were already at the end of the “runway” following the previous finance round we carried out in September 2018. Doing a finance round via camera was no problem, as we were already working remotely.
Q: What does it mean to have an active owner in such a crisis?
A: Fortunately, we had established an excellent relationship with SNÖ before the pandemic. Hence, we quickly carried out the finance round, a fitting solution to the urgent situation. It also became the start of the collaboration with SNÖ, an actor we had wanted to work with for a long time.
Q: Has the crisis led to market opportunities?
A: It has led to solid growth. Without that growth, Confrere probably would not have continued in the same form. Now, we are pretty sure that video consultations will be a lasting change for general practitioners. After experiencing a top in March, the usage went a lot down because many could not integrate it into their practice. Those who did, around 30-40 per cent, have continued and will do so after the pandemic. Gradually, we believe others will follow.
In August, we also launched our product in Germany after going through an approval process. The market we are in is characterised by the fact that you must do specific things in each market, so it is not possible to launch everywhere at the same time. We chose to expand to Germany because the health system there is relatively similar to the Norwegian one.