Sanar is a fast-growing MedTech startup from Brazil with the mission to transform the healthcare industry and continued education of health professionals. Founded in 2014 by physician Caio Nunes and entrepreneurs Ubiraci Mercês, Maurício Lima and Leandro Lima, Sanar investigated continued education in the healthcare sector and realized that there is a gap. They set out on a mission to improve the lives of doctors and health professionals supporting them throughout the different stages of their journey (see original Google for Startups article for more).
The business challenge
The startup's first products were physical books written by specialists to train doctors. In 2018 Sanar started to offer in-depth digital products: educational content for students “Sanar Flix”, preparatory courses for residency tests “Sanar Residência Médica”, as well as solutions to help with medical practice “Sanar YellowBook” and financial products for students “Sanar UP”.
“That's what makes our business so challenging: we have a very extensive line of solutions which have to be integrated along the complete journey of health professionals”, explains Matheus Silva, Head of Growth at Sanar.
By the end of 2020, Sanar substantially grew their organization and was facing various growth challenges across their eight products. To tackle their growth challenges systematically they joined “Google for Startups x Growth Academy”. Similar to our regular growth strategy programs, this 6-week, invite-only corporate collaboration with Google for Startups aims at empowering startup leaders with structured and outcome-oriented growth strategies.
“Establishing a culture of experimentation and implementing referral viral loops led to a -30% reduction in customer acquisition cost, while the number of trials grew by +326%.
After only three months the viral loops contributed to 20% of our platform revenue.”
—Matheus Silva, Head of Growth, Sanar
When joining Growth Academy, Sanar had the objective of scaling their platform “Sanar Residência Médica”, a platform for preparatory courses for medical students. “We identified an untapped growth opportunity for our course platform since we were able to acquire a massive amount of trials but with a slowing momentum,” explains Matheus.
So, Sanar decided it was time to test different rewards and incentives as well as several working growth hypotheses based on the concept of the ‘culture of experimentation’. At first, they experimented with discounts and physical handouts. When they realized they could no longer optimize this strategy, they moved on to a more radical idea: "We introduced a referral viral loop where a student who was testing our product could earn seven more days of content if they invited five more people”, he details. This growth strategy led to a -30% reduction in customer acquisition cost (CAC), while the number of trials grew by +326%.
To boost this viral acceleration loop further Sanar experimented with payback mechanisms and bonuses for new users. They introduced a payback bonus for students that referred five additional people within their first 30 days. “After only three months the viral loops designed during Growth Academy contributed to 20% of our platform revenue. Having one user acquiring another user is much simpler and generates revenue at a significantly lower customer acquisition cost (CAC)”, concludes Matheus.
During the advisory sessions with Google and Growth Academy founder Nikolas, Sanar not only discussed how to establish a ‘culture of experimentation’ but also introduced company-wide North Star Metrics (NSM). “The company has to understand the actual value that our core products delivers to its customers. Our newly determined North Star Metrics reflect the current value that our products deliver and allow us to set the right growth targets for the future”, describes Matheus Silva, Head of Growth at Sanar. With this learning, it was much easier to set the right growth objectives for the teams and work towards them. “Ultimately, defining the right North Star Metrics gave us the needed clarity to drive sustainable growth for Sanar”, he concludes.
“Ultimately, defining the right North Star Metrics gave us the needed clarity to drive sustainable growth for Sanar.”
—Matheus Silva, Head of Growth, Sanar
In terms of Google products, the startup continues to reap good results. “We’ve built deep growth expertise in regards to Google Ads and have a great relationship with the Google growth team. In 2016, Sanar’s investment in media was 5%. Today, we grew this number by more than 10x and have a 60% media invest”, details the executive. Their YouTube channel was also optimized during Growth Academy and they were able to grow their subscriber base from 10,000 to 40,000 YouTube subscribers while maintaining their conversion rate.
Completing Growth Academy with such a strong outlook, Sanar aims to continue improving the education of health professionals. They want to bring more people onto their platform and show how they can help to make the journey of health professionals even simpler and more effective, from the first day of school to their last professional stage.
“It is unacceptable that professionals with such an important role in society need to worry about money, about issuing invoices, and about paying for university. Sanar is here to address these needs, and we will close the healthcare education gap by solving these problems”, concludes Matheus Silva, Head of Growth at Sanar.
You might wonder how you can use such growth strategies for your own business. If you want to learn more sign up for Growth Academy. We teach the frameworks of growth leaders at Google, Amazon, TikTok, Spotify, Skyscanner, and more, and provide step-by-step guidance on how to amplify the growth of your product and business model.