Interview with Laurent Massuyeau, founder of iQone Healthcare
"Giving meaning to my work is essential. We are contributing to something useful: caring for the sick."
Laurent Massuyeau, iQone Executive Chairman & Founder
Laurent Massuyeau: An icon in the figurative sense, is a person or thing that embodies a reference or a trend. The term "iconic" is often used in the luxury world as a guarantee of quality and to differentiate oneself from others. We differentiate ourselves by our values, our culture, and our striving for excellence. The capital Q symbolizes the Quality of our products and service. If we break down the name, "iQ" stands for Intelligence Quotient, because to me the pharmaceutical industry, is an area of knowledge. The second part of the name "one" refers to the fact that we are in the Top 3 and want to become number 1 in the biosimilars market and in the markets of our core products.
L.M.: I was looking for a market segment in which we could be competitive and where the investment was reasonable for a family-owned company. Biosimilars are successor products for original biological drugs whose patent has expired. This is a promising and important sector for the healthcare economy. According to the Swiss Biosimilars Barometer, by 2022, approximately CHF 100 million could be saved per year if biosimilars were systematically used.
In addition, over the next ten to twelve years, many biologics' patents will expire and the population will age. The market will grow by about 30% per year until 2040.
L.M.: Working for large pharmaceutical companies taught me the discipline and rigor of pharmaceutical management and operations.
I had the opportunity to work on four continents and to develop an important network in the biotech field during this time. The downside was that I traveled every week for two to three days and the whole family had to move to different countries very
frequently. With three children entering their teens, I realized that the family balance was becoming fragile and that we all needed stability. Entrepreneurship became an obvious solution to combine stability and independence.
L.M.: I created iQone with the support of my wife, who took care of administration. During the first three years, we worked and did business meetings at home. The company did settle its headquarter in Versoix in 2016. My wife still works alongside me in human resources.
Our family in the broadest sense is the reference shareholder of iQone. Now aged 23 to 29, my children are independent and have their own professional life. However, they remain attached to the ownership of the company and like what I have built. Other members of my family, involved in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry, are also shareholders and have invested in the company. All board members and non-family shareholders are professionals in the pharmaceutical industry. They are not investment funds, which guarantees us very strong stability and solidity of ownership. I have known them for many years and I trust them. The company is very intuitu personae.
L.M.: iQone's mission is to provide innovative therapeutic advances to healthcare professionals in Switzerland. iQone brings two types of products to Switzerland:
Currently, we are proposing and planning to market two new products: a biobetter (a new and improved version of an existing biologics) called Veblocema and one innovative product: an hydroxycarbamide for the treatment of a rare disease. Three additional new products are also in preparation. All of our products are stored in Switzerland with our partner Voigt, based in Niederbipp. I made the choice to have large stocks, which are on average, higher than in pharma, to ensure continuity for patients and to respond quickly to their needs.
L.M.: My wife, my children, and I lived in Switzerland for four years and we enjoyed the environment, the rhythm, and the lifestyle.
As a child, I spent four years on Réunion Island, and the nature there was extraordinary. Although Switzerland is very different, I found beautiful mountains here as well! Instead of the ocean, I discovered beautiful lakes. These are natural elements that inspire me. I take time to think in the mountains or by the lake. They also help me to disconnect. I recently acquired the Swiss nationality because Switzerland is also a country where I feel good in terms of values related to quality and excellence. Switzerland is where I also find the same values of my Vendéan origins. Because of Switzerland's history, the values of loyalty and trust are very present and strong. These values are very much part of the identity of Vendée, because of its history, just like in Switzerland.
L.M.: The first four years I worked until 9 pm every day and also every weekend. Today I have a better balance in my life.
I get up at 6:50 am and arrive at the office at 8:00 am. I manage my emails, follow up on business development and attend operational meetings. I take one to two hours a day to think about structuring issues for the company and I leave the office at 6:30 pm. Outside of work, I spend time with my wife, my three young children and my eight-month-old granddaughter. I exercise one to two hours a day. I like to travel and I regularly return to Vendée. I am close to my origins and I know many people there. I like to meet people. It is very important for me to give priority to human relations.
L.M.: The intellectual challenge. The pharma world is a complicated industry. I am also passionate about biology, and I like to keep myself up to date with scientific and technological advances.
Giving meaning to my work is essential. We are contributing to something useful: caring for the sick. I was sick myself for nine years and spent part of my youth in hospitals. For me, it is vital to be involved in helping patients improve their lives.
L.M.: The human ability to create new products and technologies. For example, I'm excited about cell therapies and I think we're just at the beginning of their development and application.
I'm also very excited to integrate new collaborators who each have their own personalities and think differently. Having new ways of thinking or approaching issues with your team brings new ideas and opens doors. I want my colleagues to participate in building the company. I value their loyalty and commitment. We are aiming to have 50 employees by the end of 2026.