February 10, 2023

IAG business angels alongside startups - Success stories: 1000Farmacie

1000Farmacie was founded in March 2020 by CEO Nicolò Petrone, COO Mohamed Younes, and Alberto Marchetti, CMO. The company has seen exponential growth in less than two years. With a network of more than 100 independent pharmacies in major Italian cities and over 100,000 products for sale, 1000Farmacie now has more than 500,000 customers. In the past year, it has experienced a 600 percent growth in sales. The startup also collaborates with some major Pharma biggies.

In early 2022, 1000Farmacie cashed in a record $15m round led by P101 SGR and HBM Healthcare Investments. Also believing in their project are business angels from Italian Angels for Growth (IAG), led by Paolo Moretti and Giuseppe Mantero.

Nicolò Petrone

What is 1000Farmacie and how was it born?

1000Farmacie is the first Italian marketplace that brings together the best pharmacies in the area on a single online platform, guaranteeing consumers wide choice, fast delivery and convenience. The idea stems from the goal of strengthening the online presence of individual pharmacies, enabling them to meet the challenges of digital transformation. Thanks to a cloud technology that integrates with partner pharmacies' warehouses and collects their stock online, 1000Farmacie guarantees a twofold service: one aimed at the end consumer and one for independent pharmacies that gain broad online visibility, overcoming the complexity that stand-alone digital transition would inevitably entail.

What is the importance of having good investors on your side?

Our investors constantly provide us with valuable contacts and all the know-how we need to keep growing. They have the role of true mentors, able to offer guidance on strategic business decisions and increase the perceived value of our reality. They represent for us, in fact, all the support we need for the long-term success of our company.

The Italian pharmaceutical market is highly fragmented and is currently determined by about 23,000 independent pharmacies, which do not use online sales channels and have limited stock. Technological expertise is one of your strengths. What are your future goals?

Our goal for the future is to continue to grow, innovating more and more in the pharmaceutical market through new projects and new skills being developed, aiming to position ourselves as top of mind in the minds of online pharmaceutical consumers.

Paolo Moretti e Giuseppe Mantero

IAG business angel is a person who invests, not only money but also time and skills, to support motivated and talented startups and founders to develop business projects. How did the meeting between Italian Angels for Growth and 1000Farmacie come about and why the choice to believe in their project?

As part of the process of scouting and selection among startups to invest in, 1000Farmacie emerged as one of the most promising realities, in terms of the quality of the company and its founders, market potential, and the presence and collaboration of valuable investors.

The pharmaceutical distribution market is a very interesting market both for its intrinsic value and because, in our opinion, it represents a great potential for development and innovation: in fact, pharmaceutical distribution in Italy is highly developed upstream of the pharmacy while the relationship towards the user is still mainly structured in a traditional way. This is both because of the delicacy of the relationship and because of the desire to protect the role of the pharmacy as a distribution channel and presence in the territory.

An important step forward was made with the introduction of electronic prescriptions, and thanks in part to this innovation, 1000Farmacie is developing an innovative distribution model for prescription drugs as well that, while safeguarding the role of the pharmacy, will allow the process to be greatly improved.

The Champion is the "deal leader" of a collective investment of IAG members. What are the challenges of this role?

The role of the Champion is to act as the link between the IAG members and the startup, gathering and transmitting information between the parties and ensuring that the founders, in addition to their own personal expertise, also have access to the entire wealth of expertise and contacts in the network of over 300 IAG members. In this specific case, we are dealing with a very knowledgeable founder, who has already had a successful experience, with a very significant corporate structure and set of funders, so the Champions focus more on the information and liaison part between IAG and 1000Farmacie, which is fully autonomous in operational management.

1000Farmacie is a co-investment made with several professional VC funds that share the goal of developing a category killer drug in Italy, in a still fragmented market. IAG in fact facilitates the investment of private capital in the ecosystem of Italian and international startups, becoming the meeting point between entrepreneurs, investors and companies. What are the benefits of these co-investment models?

IAG represents an important help for startups that are growing because it combines the support and expertise typical of Business Angels with the network of contacts and skills towards the Venture Capital ecosystem, thus helping developing startups to access fundraising sizes that the individual Business Angel would hardly reach. In the case of 1000Farmacie even though the company is very young, it is growing very rapidly toward revenue and funding sizes typical of an already mature entity. IAG's mission is precisely to facilitate the investment of private capital in the ecosystem of Italian and international startups, becoming the meeting point between entrepreneurs, investors, and companies. And through collaboration with leading national and international players, the benefits for IAG members and founders are amplified.