"Invitro" company becomes a network of medical clinics

Scale thinking in Invitro began a long time ago. Once the founder of the company Alexander Ostrovsky wanted to create a large network of hospitals, but refused this idea.
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In December 2017, the co-owners of the company Invitro, which unites more than 1,000 points for the reception of medical analyzes in five countries and nine large laboratories for their processing, gathered in the office located at the Neurosurgery Center. Academician N. N. Burdenko. The general director and founder of the company, Alexander Ostrovsky, left the meeting room. The purchase of the medical company "Lechu" was discussed without him. "I had a conflict of interest," Ostrovsky explains. After all, he created the company "Lecha" and owned in it a share of 33.3%. The discussion did not last long, the co-owners of Invitro were well acquainted with this business. Already in May 2018, Invitro made a deal to buy Lecha (the amount of the deal is not disclosed). "This is a minor event, as if we bought the business from our large franchisee," Ostrovsky modesty. In 2017, Lech revenue (the network unites 84 medical centers) amounted to about 1.5 billion rubles, the proceeds of Invitro are much higher - 13.99 billion rubles. Nevertheless, the absorption of "Lecha" was an important event for "Invitro". "We are changing the paradigm," says the CEO. "And we are getting out of the laboratory and diagnostic company medical."
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In Soviet times, Ostrovsky worked as an anesthesiologist-resuscitator at the Neurosurgical Institute. NN Burdenko and in the late 1980s because of financial difficulties, like many doctors, he was looking for options for earnings. Once he was called to the medical cooperative "Pchelka", engaged in, in particular, treatment with bee venom. "I had to sit and wait for someone to start dying from a bee sting," recalls Ostrovsky, "but no one was dying, and I was bored and melancholy."

Money still was not enough until in 1993, Ostrovsky together with his colleagues created on the territory of the Institute the company "United Medical Exchange" (OMB), which supplied equipment and consumables to clinics and laboratories. Ostrovsky became director of the OMB and went to an exhibition of medical equipment in Dusseldorf, where he met Alexei Moshkin, who was in charge of the laboratory of analysis at the Institute of Neurosurgery. In anticipation of a return flight, they talked at the airport, and Moshkin offered to create his own laboratory, since the market was then only slow state, and doctors and patients wanted to receive test results quickly. Ostrovsky realized that the OMB stock has all the necessary equipment. OMB shareholders supported the idea and created a special unit in the company, investing $ 30,000 into the new business.

Two years the laboratory unit existed without much success. Ostrovsky continually turned to shareholders for financial support, and when he again came to ask for money to buy a machine to deliver biomaterials from customers (no one had such a service), he was offered to close the laboratory.

But Ostrovsky did not give up, gave his own car to the company and persuaded his colleagues to continue their business. And then everything changed. The laboratory managed to get the first large client - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and then, according to Ostrovsky, the word-of-mouth was earned because the service was of high quality. Private medical centers went to them. However, co-owners (and managers) of the OMB and the laboratory had a conflict of interest: the seller of the equipment was profitable, so that the players would become larger, and the laboratories - to make the competition lower. Shareholders decided that the two businesses needed a divorce.

In 1998, Ostrovsky registered the company Invitro, where he and Moshkin owned 25% each, and the rest - to other OMB shareholders. It was the first laboratory diagnostic company in Russia.

In 2001, after learning about the ability to quickly make analyzes, mass customers went to the laboratory, and Ostrovsky turned to the Directorate of the Neurosurgical Institute named after M.Sh. N. N. Burdenko with a request to lease additional space for a procedural study. But the institute did not allow to create a competitor of its own laboratory. "If we organized a cabinet here, there would not be any Invitro network," the general director now reasons.

In 2002, the partners leased 50 square meters. m in the center of Moscow in the Gazette Lane for $ 300 per 1 sq. km. m per year. Soon Ostrovsky saw that a long queue lined up in the laboratory and many people leave without waiting for the reception. And then he realized that it was necessary to open new offices, including behind the Garden Ring. He was sure that 20 offices would be enough for the whole of Moscow, but the market was much more capacious.

In early 2005, there were already 10 treatment rooms, and Invitro had to create its own call center, receiving more than 1500 calls a day. Business could be developed, however it was difficult to find investments and suitable areas in Moscow. The company considered various options for network growth and settled on a franchise model. According to Ostrovsky, the partner network would increase the turnover by 20%. Together with consultants from the "Shop of Ready Business" (MGB), Invitro analyzed the Moscow market of franchises, having studied businesses that are similar in cost with the creation of a procedural room (from $ 30,000 to $ 35,000). It turned out that in conditions of lower competition than in other industries, their franchise can be no less attractive than a cafe or a hairdresser. The three-year contract provided for a lump-sum contribution of $ 7,000, a monthly royalty of $ 1,000 and a 30% discount to the standard rates of laboratory tests.

In February 2005, the franchise project was launched in Moscow and the Moscow region, and in April - in the regions. The information was distributed through the MGB, which conducted initial interviews with applicants and received 30% of the lump-sum contribution. They launched advertising, costing $ 1,000-2,000 per month.

The first three partners came from the regions, and only then did the Muscovites. For five months, the franchise project Invitro has come to self-sufficiency. By December, thanks to the franchise, the number of offices doubled. In 2007, Invitro had 50 offices in seven cities, an automobile delivery system for analyzes and two laboratories in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In 2010, there were 228 offices in 67 Russian cities, of which only 17 own. By that time, competitors had also grown up, but the nearest, Citylab, had only 70 offices, mostly franchised. The current main competitor - the company "Hemotest" - now has 530 offices. As much as Invitro has a franchisee. And the same number of companies have their own offices. The number of own laboratories that process analyzes has grown to five.

The "Invitro" franchise became the first in its segment, which ensured rapid growth and a high market share. The second component of success was the rental approach. The company did not build its own facilities and did not attract outside financing. The owner of the network "Hemotest" Rudem Gaziev told Forbes that attracting loan financing for the construction of their own buildings "was a mistake that increased the backlog from the leader -" Invitro "- at least three years." Now Invitro has two types of franchise programs: one for Moscow, the Moscow region and large cities, the second for small towns. The first investment is 2.3-4.9 million rubles, a lump-sum contribution from 300,000-500,000 rubles to 700,000 rubles in Moscow, royalty is 28,000 rubles a month. For each study, the franchisee receives a fee of 35% in Moscow and 40% in the regions. Under the second program, investments are expected to be 900,000 rubles, a contribution of 150,000 rubles, royalties 2% of turnover, and a reward of 40%. The yield on payback begins with the sixth month of work.

The first laboratory of the company could conduct up to 750 types of research (now twice as much), and the owner of the first franchise cabinet Irina Aleksanyan from Obninsk had to hire a doctor for free consultations and recommendations, which tests the patient needs. Over time, the medical component in "Invitro" only grew. Ksenia Polyakova, who bought the first franchise eight years ago, now has five offices in Moscow. She also owns small medical centers located near her "Invitro" points. According to her calculations, medical centers - traditional mini-clinics near the house - bring about the same amount as the "Invitro" office after settling with the franchisor. In each laboratory and clinical office, doctors work. Most often these are gynecologists and ultrasound doctors. In total, about 1,000 doctors work in the offices of Invitro.

High "I'm flying"

In 2005, Ostrovsky and his partners registered the firm "MC Group", which ran a mini-clinic. The idea was simple: the patients of the clinic take tests in Invitro, and the offices of Invitro send their clients to the clinic's doctors. The model turned out to be working, and the accumulated "Invitro" skills of franchising gave acceleration to the business. Five years later the network of mini-clinics "Lechu" united 40 centers (30 of them by franchise). In the clinics, up to seven specialists worked, but there was necessarily a therapist, a gynecologist and an ultrasound specialist. Investments in such a mini-clinic amounted to at least 3.6 million rubles, a lump-sum contribution - from 300,000 rubles, royalties - from 40,000 rubles.

Oksana Krupina owns six offices "Invitro" and three mini-clinics "Lechu" - two of the twin offices with a partner partner. The first Invitro office was opened on the south-western outskirts of Moscow in early 2009, leasing and equipping a room of 70 square meters. m. And literally a month later realized that you need a more spacious office, as patients lined up on the street. Two months later they rented large areas and bought a Lechu franchise for them. "The association" Lecha "and" Invitro "will allow the company to attract more patients to an outpatient reception," Krupina said.

In April 2017, Invitro introduced the position of medical director, she became Natalia Kolesnikova, who worked for 16 years in American clinics, including hospitals of the insurance company Kaiser Permanente, who organize medical care at the most advanced level. According to Kolesnikova, Invitro has implemented the basic plans for the development of the laboratory and diagnostic network, the new strategic direction of the company is medical services.

"The merger of" Lecha "with" Invitro "- the starting point, - explains Kolesnikova. "And the task is to build a medical franchise that can be assembled as a designer with a combination of different specialist doctors." One of the combinations, as planned, will include a therapist, pediatrician and gynecologist with an extended diagnostic link - X-ray, CT, MRI. New clinics will operate under the "Invitro" brand, and other models will have more diverse configurations. While no treatment center is open, there is a complicated process of licensing, legal documents preparation, Kolesnikova says. The network of mini-clinics under the Lecha brand will be preserved.

Scale thinking in Invitro began a long time ago. Once Ostrovsky wanted to create a large network of hospitals, but refused this idea. "These are very expensive projects with a vague policy of the state," he says. However, perhaps, one rehabilitation center "Invitro" will still open. According to Ostrovsky, this is a promising area for which almost no one in the country is engaged.

In 2014, the owners of Invitro sold 30% of shares to several private equity funds managed by Russia Partners. "We had a task to conduct an IPO abroad and get an estimate of $ 1 billion," Ostrovsky says, "and we attracted them for that." The crisis and sanctions have diminished appetites, but the company does not refuse to enter the stock exchange.