Another Men’s Health Startup
In a column appearing a couple of months ago, we told you about Roman, a startup based here in the United States that focuses on providing prescription medications to men through its website. Another startup, this time centered in the UK, is seeking to do something similar but with a particular emphasis on information (in addition to the online filling of prescriptions). This new UK startup is called Numan and its initial focus will be on just one aspect of men’s health – erectile dysfunction. The company does have plans to expand its operations into hair loss and several other (primarily) male-specific medical areas as it grows revenues and expands its customer base.
Numan was founded by an experienced entrepreneur named Sokratis Papafloratos. While he has founded and nurtured several successful startups in his entrepreneurial career, this marks his first foray into the burgeoning world of health and wellness. The subscription model he envisions for his customers will put a unique spin on the normal process for prescription acquisition that employs a standard physician and pharmacy network.
Papafloratos claims that Numan’s emphasis on information will make its offerings unique and place more weight on connecting the customer with the absolute best choice for his individual needs (as opposed to a typical and broad-based one-size-fits-all approach). This means that the Numan service must be far more than just an online pharmacy. The goal is to have a solutions-based approach in which the customer has access to all relevant and necessary information. Papafloratos is releasing The Book of Erections, an in-depth learning resource for anyone suffering from erectile dysfunction. It describes in detail the whys, whens, and hows of this medical condition and grants men the requisite tools to help them understand their own specific problems (for instance, is somebody’s ED medication related, is it caused by a serious underlying condition like heart or coronary artery disease, is it a result of high cholesterol or blood pressure, or could it be something else) – and what steps can be taken to remedy the condition based on this diagnosis.
For market research, Papafloratos conducted a survey of 1000 men and 1000 women in the UK. Results indicated that of those men claiming problems with erectile dysfunction, just 42% had actually pursued treatment. Much of this is likely the simple lack of convenience, but it also implies that the privacy issues related to such a sensitive subject can be paramount. Let’s face it, erectile dysfunction, while it’s extremely common (especially as a population ages) is not something an average person wishes to discuss – even with his trusted medical professional.
For the most part, the Numan system is similar to what Roman does with respect to online prescriptions. The customer goes to the Numan website, opens an account by answering several questions about his history and current symptoms, then waits for a Numan expert to assess his suitability for one of the company’s list of treatment options. Typically, this process is completed quickly and then prescriptions are filled (if needed) and the medicine is shipped from Numan’s fulfillment center within 48-Hours. Numan stresses that what it offers is a men’s health subscription rather than simply an online pharmacy.
These newer spins on old business models are becoming more and more common. And this is certainly one of those industries that has long needed a different business model. In fact, a more customer-friendly business model. Nearly everyone dislikes the hassles associated with visiting a doctor to get a prescription written or refilled. The doctors do very little and the time commitment from customers is an unwelcome hassle (to say nothing of a visit’s potential expense – insurance companies don’t always cover ED treatments). So an entrepreneur like Papafloratos sees a need for a simpler approach that goes out of its way to accommodate the customer and has constructed a business around this idea. Here’s hoping that more entrepreneurs can follow his strategy and create useful services that vastly improve a stodgy, centuries-old business.