Ahmed Kadous: The Driving Force Behind PharmacyMarts

PharmacyMarts is improving patients’ access to medications by optimizing the pharmaceutical supply chain.

Oui Capital
7 min readJun 28, 2024
Ahmed Kadous (Founder & CEO, PharmacyMarts)

PharmacyMarts is the fastest growing Health-Tech platform in Egypt. The platform gives pharmacies the opportunity to compare products and prices in order to get an optimum deal for their daily needs and empower pharmacists to grow their revenue sustainably through the first of its kind; “Buy Now Pay Later” digital financing feature. Pharmacy Marts is on a mission to expand into further verticals and build a highly efficient pharmaceuticals supply chain across Egypt and the African continent.

Ahmed Kadous & his co-founders launched this innovative digital B2B marketplace in 2021. Ahmed has a deep background working with global pharmaceutical companies in marketing, sales, market access, and pricing function roles. He holds an MBA from the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport.

Building Up From Strong Roots

How did you get into the tech space?

I spent 12 years working with big multinational companies in the pharmaceutical sector, including Pfizer, Novartis and Takeda. I’ve had quite a diverse career, handling everything from sales and marketing to market access and pricing. I was responsible for launching multiple brands in the Egyptian market and led several regional and global projects. This diversified experience provided me with a wealth of experience from entry-level to executive roles.

During this time, I realized that the industry, even at the global level, was really lagging in technology adoption, especially when it came to supply chain automation and digitization. I saw a huge opportunity and decided to dive into the tech space, leading me to build PharmacyMarts.

L-R: PharmacyMarts Co-Founders- Ahmed Mazhar, Haitham El-Ghotni, Ahmed Kadous, Mahmoud Shousha, Amr El-Bishry

How did you meet your co-founders?

I’ve known Haitham, our COO, for over 20 years — we go way back. Mahmoud, who heads our operations, worked with me at Novartis. Haitham connected me to Mazhar, our CCO. We’ve all been working together for almost four years now and are totally aligned on filling the gap in the market.

We each bring complementary experience and expertise to the table. We don’t focus on individual skills alone but on ensuring our team has the complete set of skills needed. For example, I come from a pharmaceutical background, while Haitham has experience in telecommunications and FMCG operations. Mazhar is well-versed in telecommunications and fintech, and Mahmoud also has a pharmaceutical background. We’ve all worked at large corporations and startups, so we bring a wealth of diverse experience across organizational structures.

When it comes to our relationship, it really depends on the level of the decision. For operational decisions, each of us makes calls within our areas of responsibility. But for more strategic decisions or those with long-term impact, we rely on voting and collaborative decision-making. This way, we ensure everyone is on board and we make the best decisions for the company.

How did the name PharmacyMarts come about?

When we were brainstorming names for the company, we wanted something that was clearly relevant to our industry and target customers. That’s why we chose “Pharmacy” to reflect our focus and “Marts” to highlight our marketplace business model.

We also decided on an English name from the start because we wanted a brand that could expand internationally. At the time, many startups were opting for Arabic names, which are great for the local market but not as effective globally. We wanted something that would be easily understood in different countries. “PharmacyMarts” felt like the perfect fit for our aspirations.

The Growth Stage

What do you love about building PharmacyMarts?

Building PharmacyMarts has given me a completely new perspective and a wealth of new experiences. It’s a world away from working in a big organization — it’s about starting something new, building an entire company from the ground up. We started in a tiny office in Alexandria, and now we have multiple offices and over 150 employees.

I’ve been learning so much along the way — dealing with legal stuff, setting up the company structure, fundraising, building our products from the ground up, and of course, finding and bringing on board the right people.

Working in large corporations taught me a lot about setting high-quality standards, which I applied right from the start at PharmacyMarts. I also learned how to manage the performance of key team members, set clear objectives and KPIs, and ensure that everyone gets the right support and direction. Planning strategically and managing finances were also crucial skills I learnt, as I managed huge budgets for various projects. And of course, the connections I built over those years have been incredibly valuable. They’ve helped me get the support, data, and resources I need from different sectors when necessary.

Every step teaches me something new and valuable. Seeing our impact expand into new markets, that’s incredibly satisfying.

What would you regard as important when building a sustainable business?

Previously when we started, most of the startups were depending on fundraising, having huge rounds, but currently with the macro economic situation, things are changing. For me, building a sustainable business means shifting focus away from just fundraising, especially given the changing economic landscape. It’s about ensuring your business can stand on its own feet. From day one, profitability should be a guiding star — not just validating ideas or finding product-market fit, but also tracking revenues and aiming for profitability early on.

At PharmacyMarts, we’ve raised $2 million to date. After three years, we’ve reached our breakeven point, and we’re on track to be profitable by the end of this year. This financial stability is crucial. On top of that, diversifying our revenue across different markets and currencies helps protect the business from external uncertainties. It’s a lesson all startups should prioritize from the get-go.

Have the recent developments in technology, especially with AI, impacted the terrain that you’re building? If yes, how?

Absolutely! AI has been a game-changer in the tech space. We’re proud to be part of the 2023 cohort of the Google for Startups: AI for Health Program among 30 startups selected globally — that’s been a real honor for us.

We’ve been using AI primarily to optimize our operations. It’s helped us streamline everything from logistics to enhancing the customer experience. On our platform, AI powers features like improved search, personalized recommendations, and even matching suppliers with products — making the shopping experience smoother and more efficient for our customers.

AI is still evolving, and we’re excited about its potential for the future. It’s definitely a crucial part of our plans moving forward.

In general, I believe in using technology that fits my needs. I don’t just chase after every new tech trend, but if something adds real value, I’ll adopt it. I focus on quality over quantity.

Some Advice for Founders from Ahmed

What do you do to get over a bad day?

I usually hit the gym to blow off some steam. It really helps. On the other hand, having supportive people around you makes a big difference too. My co-founders and I always try to cheer each other up during tough times. Being part of a team with a positive mindset and strong support system is crucial. Trusting each other is very important as well.

What book are you reading right now or what are you listening to?

I’m currently reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s fascinating how the author breaks down what makes outliers — those exceptional people in sports, science, and even in startups. It’s not just about talent; it’s about dedication and practice, pushing yourself to master your craft. Not only having the talent but also support networks can get you places in life. And then there’s timing and opportunity- like how many of the wealthiest people built their wealth during the internet boom. The right timing with the right preparation will get you to the right places.

If you had to give one piece of advice to aspiring founders, what would that be?

I’d say, start with the right team right from the beginning, especially your co-founders. You’re going to face some tough times, and having people who not only have the right experience but also communicate well and support each other is crucial. It’s not just about technical skills — it’s about teamwork and mutual support.

On the other hand, don’t compromise on quality standards. Start strong and build from there. Even if you’re starting with LIMITED resources, aim high. Your brand’s reputation starts with your first users, so every interaction counts in shaping your identity for the future.

To learn more about Ahmed and the team at PharmacyMarts, connect via:

Twitter: @PharmacyMarts

LinkedIn: Ahmed Kadous | PharmacyMarts

Website: www.pharmacymarts.com/



Oui Capital

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