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François Pelen - Point Vision

Co-Founder of Groupe Point Vision.

François Pelen - POINT VISION

François Pelen is the co-Founder of Groupe Point Vision.

He is an ophthalmologist, pharmacologist, HEC graduate (EMBA.91) and Challenge + professor. After a career in pharmaceuticals that began at Sanofi and culminated in a position as Vice-President of Marketing at Pfizer France, he co-founded the Point Vision Group in 2010 to meet the public's need for access to high-quality ophthalmology consultations within reasonable waiting times and at affordable prices. François Pelen was a member of the Challenge + class of 2010 and was incubated at HEC.

Background

Almost 6 out of 10 French people have, at one point in time, given up seeing an eye specialist due to long waiting times for appointments. On average, in France, the first available appointment is 2.5 months away, but sometimes as long as 6-12 months away. In addition, young ophthalmologists encounter high administrative burdens and fees when first starting their private practices.

The company has built a modern, organizational model that leverages the complementary skills of its medical staff to increase the efficiency of services, and thus better serve clients’ needs. The result? An affordable eye consultation in less than one week!

11 years after the opening of the first centre in Paris in 2012, there are now more than 50 centres across France, treating over 1.5 million patients a year. To provide a solution for patients living in medical deserts, Point Vision has started to roll out ophthalmology teleconsultation centres under a protocol signed with the French social security.

 

Interview conducted in 2018

What led you to become an entrepreneur?

François Pelen: After nearly eleven years at Pfizer, including five years as the Business Unit Director of Ophthalmology, I became acutely aware of the business dynamics in the medical sector. I started realizing that there was a real need in France to modernize the ophthalmology sector to improve patient consultation and care. In 2011, I set out with my colleague at Pfizer, Patrice Pouts, and a young lawyer, Raphael Schnitzer, with the intention of creating Groupe Point Vision and haven’t looked back since.  

 

How has HEC contributed to your success?

FP: As a young manager with a background in medicine, I turned to HEC to sharpen my business management skills. I completed my EMBA at HEC in 1991. The experience was very satisfying as it really structured my ideas in terms of business strategy and development. My career evolution from more technical positions to business and marketing roles wouldn’t have been possible without the foundation I received from HEC. Twenty years later, in 2011, I returned to HEC for help launching my startup. After applying and being selected for the HEC Challenge+ program, I was able to build a strong business plan for Groupe Point Vision. Immediately afterwards, I joined the HEC Incubator program and benefited from months of invaluable coaching. It was during the program that I met my future investor, Marc Simoncini of Meetic, and together we were able to really launch Groupe Point Vision in 2012. With a small round of financing, we built a proof of concept in Paris and Lyon to prove the idea could work. Based on that success, we were able to raise more money—17 million euros in three years—and slowly but surely constructed our 23 opthalmologist centers.  

 

Think long and hard about your business plan. Make sure you have the right amount of resources to pull it off.

 

What is one key lesson you learned at HEC Challenge+?

FP: Think long and hard about your business plan. Make sure you have the right amount of resources to pull it off. If you want to convince the investors, you must be able to implement your strategy in the way you say you will. It’s key to building confidence.

 

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?

FP: There is one thing you need to know: time is of the essence. You must be able to organize your time very well if you want to succeed.  And this is one field that demands a lot of it!

 

Key figures

  • 1.5 million+ patients seen
  • more than 50 Groupe Point Vision centers in operation
  • 17 million euros in financing raised in three years (2011-2013)
  • 5 months – average waiting time to see an eye doctor in France
  • 48 hours – average waiting time to see an eye doctor in Groupe Point Vision