After identifying a gap in the market, Patrick and his colleagues created a pioneering app in the digital health space. We ask Patrick about his journey from skin surgeon to co-founder and what he has learnt along the way.
Tell me about the journey that led you to found Dermapp.
I’d been working as a dermatologist – treating skin cancer – in a private practice at Biopôle since 2014. I was looking for a new challenge. So, in 2017, when I was approached by two friends who wanted to build a dermatology platform, I leapt at the chance. Because there aren’t enough dermatologists in the country, a patient often waits months before seeing a doctor. There were around 1,000 daily Google searches for terms related to our field in Lausanne, such as ‘dermatologist’ and ‘derm clinic’. So we knew there was unmet demand for skin doctors in this region.
How does Dermapp help meet this demand?
Our app is an online consultation tool that gives advice to patients within 48 hours. So, for instance, if someone is worried about a mole on their skin or any other skin condition, they can send a picture and get advice from a qualified dermatologist without having to wait for months for an appointment.
How do you take the leap and start a company when you have no business background?
It was a learning curve, as doctors don’t tend to be good at business – it isn’t covered at medical school! I started to gain knowledge of business when I opened a private practice, so I learnt by doing.
What really helped is that I was building the business with a team that I trusted. From the very start, it felt right to start this venture with my business partners. Every evening we discussed everything together and brought different skills to the table. It’s a lot easier to solve problems together than trying to do it alone. All five of us were dedicated and worked hard in our spare time to make it work.