CEO by likelihood, she took over after her cousin’s tragic loss of life and led the household enterprise to success
Iseli Reis is CEO of Fleximedical, which in 2022 should earn BRL 13 million; entrepreneur took on a position suddenly after the murder of her cousin, founder of the business
the hospital architect Iseli Reis chose for herself a profession that left her far removed from running a business. With no inclination for leadership, but with a passion for the medical field, she has worked for years in hospital space planning. The taste for the health market, however, was not a mere coincidence, but a family thing. Her cousin, Roberto Kikawa, also worked in the business.
In 2005, Kikawa founded Fleximedical, a hospital startup born within the confines of the University of São Paulo (USP). Right at the beginning, the business was dedicated to the development of intelligent endoscopic forceps, used in highly complex surgeries.
The first challenge came two years later, when China started exporting the same product on a large scale. With the low prices charged by Chinese competitors, it was difficult to survive. The company had to adapt. That’s when Fleximedical started to manufacture medical equipment for mobile hospital treatment units, in essence vehicles that serve as traveling hospitals🇧🇷
What does Fleximedical do?
Fleximedical’s proposal was to bring the hospital to the patient, with mobile consultations and screenings. Starting with the social role, impact was the main objective of the business. “Our intention was to expand access to populations in underserved regions”, explains Reis. In addition to consultations, the startup also offered more specialized services in these vehicles, such as diagnostic tests and mini surgical centers. “The unit is customized according to the needs of the region and communities, because the health bottleneck has always been our main target”, he says.
At the other end, there is the economic advantage for medical institutions, which began to extend services and equipment to more than one place at the same time. “This created an intelligence in the area of health that did not yet exist”, he says.
The change in course led Kikawa to call Iseli Reis to join the business. With experience designing medical spaces, she was the perfect candidate. In the operational part of the business, the architect was responsible for mobile hospital projects for 11 years.
The distancing from leadership positions, however, soon ended. Suddenly, Reis was tasked with taking over as CEO of Fleximedical after the tragic death of her cousin, murdered during a robbery in greater São Paulo in 2018.
“I didn’t know anything beyond operational matters, but I proved myself by taking on this mission,” he says. “Of course I had to learn about business management. Studied, surrounded myself with mentorships and accelerations. It was what enabled me and prepared a new look at the company, but without losing the initial purpose. Purpose is what gives strength.”
Already in the chair of president, Reis promoted a management shock in the company. In 2018, Fleximedical opened up to the market — the company until then had only one customer, making medical units for a single company.
Looking at the B2B and B2G market, serving other companies and governments, Fleximedical has scaled like never before. Already diversified, the business grew and gained three new customers.
Who are the customers
Most of Fleximedical’s customers 90% of customers are companies or health service providers for the Unified Health System (SUS). A smaller portion is made up of institutes, agreements and social organizations.
With the pandemic, the business took off, based on the proposal to bring medical care to the corners of the country at a time when “It was the right medicine for the problem at that time. People didn’t arrive at the offices, at the ICUs, and couldn’t get care”, he says. “It was the right remedy for the problem at that moment. People didn’t arrive at the offices, at the ICUs, and couldn’t get care”, he says. Today, Fleximedical has 90 adapted vehicles, including trucks, buses, vans and containers.
From 2020 to 2021, Fleximedical grew by 27%. The expansion led the company to participate in the ranking EXAME Business in Expansionwhich selected the small and medium-sized companies that grew the most in the last year.
Now, Reis continues to bet on diversification to maintain the company’s good results, even after the peak of the pandemic. The main focus is on telemedicine service booths, a new target for the private market. The idea is that with the cabins, companies — and also health plan operators — can monitor their employees and customers by looking at indices such as blood pressure and temperature.
“This is the new health moment in the country, and we want to be part of it with great confidence and boldness”. Currently, the cabins are 30% of revenue, which in 2022 should be R$ 13 million.