Inside Alan, 2018 in review

Jean-Charles Samuelian
Jan 7 · 10 min read

How we are working to build the new healthcare (and insurance) standard.

« Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back.

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. »

W.H. Murray from The Himalayan Scottish Expedition.

Dear Alan’s friends,

In a nutshell,

  • This is the story of an ambitious team dedicated to achieving a bold goal: to make healthcare intuitively obvious with beautiful and honest design.
  • The story started in 2016 by Alan being the first (and the only) licensed health insurance in France since 1986 when nobody thought it was a scenario.
  • The year after, 1000 pioneering companies started their health journey with us.
  • At the end of 2018, we’re a beautiful family of close to 25,000 insured people and 2000 companies.
  • This how it happened and what comes next.

Build the new health standard

Early January 2019, we are covering close to 25,000 users from around 5,000 at the same period last year (x5), growing revenue to c. €20m from less than €3.5m one year ago (close to x6). It is the result of our dedication into building an incredible product for our users.

We created Alan to make healthcare a delightful experience to the largest number of people. Health systems have failed to their initial mission forgetting who they’ve been built for: us, the patient. Complexity of our old health systems is both inefficient and excluding. We want to empower people to be the entrepreneurs of their healthier life and make it simple for them to take the best decisions when they are sick.

Since the beginning, we have had a very large vision for the future of healthcare that we decided to tackle step by step. We wanted to start by building the best health insurance in order to become the gateway to healthcare services.

In 2016, we have established the company and have become the first and only new insurance company since 1986. We also released our first minimal viable product.

In 2017, we found our first “product-market-fit”. With a small team of 10 to 14 people, we invested in building the core experience for small companies (defined by easy setup, simple onboarding, and disability or “prevoyance” coverage), for self-employed (launch of the product) and for beneficiaries (mobile apps and claim management). We, then, did not have a “real” sales team or growth team.

We are very glad to present you a short review of 2018 and what to expect for next year!

2018 in review

Build an incredible product for our users

We are a product-first company and our biggest success are product-related.

In 2018, we have made changes to our organisation to make it more flexible (crews & OKRs for the tech-world). In a nutshell, we first define Objective and Key Results at a company level (OKRs). Then, small teams gathering all required skills tackle each objective.

As a result, we have released a lot of important things, here are some examples.

The major features we have shipped are focused on delivering an unseen fully integrated health insurance experience:

  • Beneficiary: we have updated our Mobile Apps (iOS and Android) to make our users’ life easier:

No more need to check your Alan and you bank accounts every day to know if you have been reimbursed. We send you a notification on your mobile (that you can turn off whenever you want to) to tell you we’ve launched the reimbursement process.

You want to know how much you will be reimbursed for a given care? Easy, you can see your reimbursement with our mobile searchable coverage table.

All your health in your pocket. Don’t lose anything anymore and say bye bye to paper. All your health documents are stored in your Alan app.

  • Company: We’ve optimized large company and user onboardings, and simplified the exemptions management
  • Freelancers are now able to add their partner.
  • Coverage:

We’ve launched Alan Blue (new health insurance product) for those who want the best at a good price.

We lowered our pricing focusing on families, for the second time of our young history.

  • New Services:

We built in-house: Alan Map to help you find a doctor around you and know how much you are going to get reimbursed.

We are offering new services through partnerships: Telemedicine with Livi and meditation with PetitBambou.

We have also done a lot of tools for our own Operations & Admin systems in order to deliver an even better experience to our users, quicker claim management, quicker and better answers.

We’re very proud of the great feedback we receive from you. But it’s only the beginning, here is still a lot of work ahead to build a comprehensive healthcare experience.

Next Chapter: Addressing larger companies

In 2018, our north star growth objectives was the acquisition of companies that have more than 20 employees.

We had roughly 40 of those companies at the beginning of the year, representing less than 7% of our portfolio back then. This decision was strategic: the goal was to prove that we could go up-market, addressing the “high-touch” opportunities in a structured way instead of relying only on a self-serve approach. As a result, we decided to spend zero resources on self-serve (product or acquisition-wise).

We went from zero to one in the larger company area. At the beginning of the year, we wanted to sign 1,000 “large” companies in 18 months. We built a sales team from scratch and the tools supporting it, created the vision and processes needed to articulate the work of the growth crews, and organized our first big iteration towards the 2018 renewal period (which ended on October 31st). We haven’t achieved the goal of 1.000 companies yet (we still have 6 months), mainly due to the fact that we were slow growing the sales team, but this goal had an impact on the way we worked. We ended up with 260 large companies (x6.5).

We proved that we were able to have a successful “high-touch” approach on large companies, but we did not crack the top-of-funnel approach for those companies.

We still need to learn a lot to make lead generation work at scale. In addition, we benefited from a good product-market fit on the segments we targeted both on high-touch (high conversion rate of the deal pipe), and self-serve (organic growth in contracts signature of 10.8% m-o-m for freelancers).

Build a first-class team

Our team grew from 14 to 64 people, and we keep attracting people that are leaders in their field, that are impressive by their skills, benevolence and willingness to contribute to our mission. The team is composed of:

  • 2 founders
  • Product & tech (23): 16 engineers, 2 data-scientists, 3 designers, 2 product managers
  • Sales & growth (17): 5 growth, 1 press relations & content, 9 sales, 1 sales strategist, 1 new country.
  • Insurance, operations & Care (the great team who answers all your questions) (19): 2 finance, 4 insurance & operations, 13 care team
  • Other (3): 2 talent, 1 office manager.

The past year’s success is only the product of this talented, smart, hard-working group, and I take great pride in being a part of this team. Setting the bar very high in our approach to hiring has been (Lake Wobegon strategy), and will continue to be, the single most important element of our success.

We also increased gender diversity, going from a very poor 14% to a better 35%. We still have a long way to go.

At Alan, we have a very specific culture based on very high standards, ownership, transparency, and growing as individuals and as a team. It pushes forward our boundaries and expectations.

We’ve set this culture because we’re building something very important, something that matters to everybody, something that we will all tell our children (and grandchildren) about. Such challenges aren’t meant to be easy, they are meant to be uncomfortably exciting. As a result, we had to let go two persons in 2018. It’s always a failure as a team. And we take accountability for this failure and dedicated time to improve our onboarding process and to help people grow with us along the way.

We are so lucky to have such a great team. Congratulations and thank you to all Alaners and their family.

Our future, the gateway to healthcare

We are still at Day 1 for Alan. Today, we save users administrative headaches, precious time and start helping them make better healthcare decisions. Tomorrow, we will become the gateway to healthcare, the way to remain healthy and to take the best decisions.

  • On Alan, you will have access to the best prevention advice, and you’ll easily act on them.
  • On Alan, you’ll find all your health answers to solve your problems in a delightful way.
  • On Alan, you will be able to take better decisions to live a healthier life.
  • On Alan, you’ll find the best healthcare services. We will even deliver part of that care. And we will be the underlying layer of payment and claim management for all that.

Alan uses product, design, and technologies to create real value for its users and, by doing so, hopes to create an enduring brand and company, even in such an established and large market as healthcare.

It’s all about the long term

We believe long-term value should always be our main focus.

It often means we take the harder way, the one that creates the most knowledge for us and that allows for even more performance in the future. That is why we have built a full-stack insurance company.

The stronger our market leadership on health insurance, the more powerful our economic model and incentives to become the platform for healthcare.

Our decisions have consistently reflected this focus and we will invest aggressively to expand and leverage our customer base, brand, and infrastructure as we move to establish an enduring franchise for healthcare. Our philosophy towards long-term means:

  • We will focus relentlessly on our customers and care about them.
  • We will continue to be bold in our decisions and learn from both our successes and failures.
  • We believe that we need to achieve growth in the short term to achieve our long-term vision.
  • We will continue to focus on hiring and retaining amazing and diverse employees. It means continuing to invest in the team, give access to our capital for the team, provide competitive salaries, and mix it with a very high level of transparency, ownership, and trust. We know our success will be largely affected by our ability to attract and retain the best team in Europe (and the world).

Goals for 2019: intuitively obvious healthcare

We are still in the early stages of learning how to bring new value to our users, how to expand from a first niche market to new segments (crossing the chasm). Our first goal remains to continue to extend our user base and brand.

This requires sustained investment in the core insurance experience, in our growth machine and in new parts of the healthcare journey.

Even if we believe there are significant opportunities to go abroad, we want to focus on France in 2019.

We need to keep displaying exponential growth and reach a critical mass (hundreds of thousands of users) in order to become attractive enough to create the platform of healthcare.

That being said, being focused remains very important in 2019 as we are growing the team and complexity of what we are doing. We won’t chase totally different markets as exciting as they appear to be while we have just started to seize the huge potential of SMBs (Small and medium businesses) and self-employed.

In order to reach that critical mass while being focused, we decided to do two main things on our product:

  • Widen the gap in experience with traditional insurance companies:to do so, we want to become 10x better in areas of claims and quotes management, handling payments directly and provide the best-perceived price for value in the market.
  • Build features and services that are going to make the healthcare experience delightful, simple and accessible to our users.

These ambitious Objectives have several implications for our Company structure. In 2019, we are going to exponentially grow the team and maintain the same high level of excellence, satisfaction, and happiness. We also keep investing in building a solid backbone of processes, tools, and data for the future.

We are impact driven

2018 was an incredible year. We are grateful to our users for their trust, to the team for the hard and smart work, and to our investors for their support.

We aspire to build the future of healthcare, to create the most impactful global company. It is neither a small nor an easy challenge. We can do a lot better, we have a lot of challenges and opportunities ahead.

I’m confident that if we succeed growing the team with the same standards and remain long-term focused, we have everything we need to succeed.

If you want to be part of our story and make Alan the world’s best healthcare company, please send us feedback and ideas! Help us grow as a company and individuals to make it easier to live healthier lives.

You can also join us: We are recruiting very talented software engineers, data scientists, product managers, designers, customer care, operations, and sales team members.


Jean-Charles Samuelian

Written by

Co-founder & CEO @ alan



Alan is the first digital health insurance company in Europe. We revolutionise health insurance by focusing on user experience with excellent price-quality ratio health plan. We are the first new insurance licensed in France since 1986.

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