Young Entrepreneur's pivot to telehealth the right medicine during pandemic

Young Entrepreneur's pivot to telehealth the right medicine during pandemic

Midnight Health founder Nic Blair.

After making a successful exit from his full-service digital agency Search Factory in late-2019, Nic Blair has returned to the startup world with a new play in the realm of telehealth.

Called Midnight Health, the platform has benefitted from lockdowns - enabling customers to order a variety of medication directly to their doors, helping both those stuck at home and the time-poor.

Through its two brands Youly and Stagger, the digital healthcare platform is initially focusing on women’s and men’s health products. However, Blair tells Business News Australia the versatility of the tech underpinning the platform means it is poised to take advantage of more key sectors, including the budding world of CBD.

Business News Australia jumped on the phone with Blair to discuss the beginnings of Midnight Health, and how the unlikely jump from digital marketing to telehealth has been easier than you’d think.

Much has been said in recent months about the explosion of e-commerce during the pandemic, but another industry has been emerging too - with infrastructure now in place to dramatically change how we live.

Stuck at home, many have turned to the Internet to solve the everyday problems they’d otherwise deal with in public. Telehealth services have popped up in droves over the past year, promising customer service akin to a face-to-face general practitioner appointment with the tap of a few buttons and a webcam.

Digital marketing guru and Young Entrepreneur Nic Blair has tapped into telehealth as it becomes more commonplace in our web browsers, with more Australians now accustomed to turning to the Internet for every service under the sun.

His new business is called Midnight Health and acts as a platform upon which Blair hopes to build a wide variety of targeted health services.

So far Brisbane-based Midnight Health operates two brands: Youly - a women’s health platform, and Stagger - a men’s health service.

Both offer customers treatments for a raft of medical issues. For example, Youly customers can order and receive medicine to treat genital herpes, thrush, and cold sores, as well as expedited delivery of contraception pills and Plan B.

Stagger’s focus is on some of the more awkward medical issues men face, offering delivery of treatments for hair loss, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, genital herpes and more.

For Blair, the first stage in the process was realising the demand for an emergency contraceptive pill that could be delivered discreetly and quickly.

“We saw the biggest opportunity was in women’s health care to start with because that market was relatively underserviced in terms of telehealth and digital healthcare solutions,” Blair says.

“We looked at problems that women were having in terms of access to different treatments and there are a few things that popped up pretty frequently.

“One was around emergency contraception, and the terrible experience that a lot of women have had in terms of going to obtain emergency contraception at the pharmacy and being grilled about their sex lives.”

Depending on what treatment customers are looking for, approval from a doctor or pharmacist will first be required following a questionnaire completed on each of Midnight Health’s websites.

Once approval is granted though, the medication or treatment will be sent either by express post or couriered directly from one of Midnight Health’s 50 partner pharmacies based in every major city in Australia except Perth and Darwin.

“It streamlines the process, particularly for something like the contraceptive pill or any treatment where you just need to get a regular script,” Blair says.

With lockdowns in full swing in New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, Blair says Youly and Stagger have both already witnessed significant growth, with the former growing at a rate of 40 to 60 per cent each month.

However, in an unintended side-effect of lockdowns, Blair says requests for emergency contraceptive pills fell whenever COVID-19 outbreaks appeared.

“I guess that essentially means people are doing the right thing,” laughs Blair.

“We’re also finding that there are a lot of customers coming through who are using us for contraceptive pills because they can’t get in to see their doctor or don’t want to go in to see their doctor.

“Across both the women’s and men’s brands we're doing treatments where people might be reluctant to want to speak to or publicly go and obtain them, so it allows them to get the treatment they need without having to do that in a public space.”

For Blair the move into telehealth is a big jump from digital marketing, but the Young Entrepreneur Awards Ambassador says his experience at Search Factory was undeniably helpful.

“Regardless of the industry that you’re in, a lot of businesses still encounter the same problems,” Blair says.

“I’ve certainly learned a lot through my process of Search Factory with actually how to scale and grow a business. There are probably job roles that I’m thinking of at a very early stage that I wouldn’t have thought of without the Search Factory experience.”

Midnight Health ready to tackle CBD

In December last year the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) down-scheduled certain low dose cannabidiol (CBD) products to Schedule 3, allowing them to be sold over-the-counter at pharmacies without a prescription.

While no products have yet been approved for over-the-counter sales here in Australia, Blair says he is poised to start selling those CBD medicines via Midnight Health as soon as one is ready.

In addition, gut health and seniors health are on the cards to round out Midnight Health’s suite of brands to five.

“Once the first TGA-approved product is available, we’re looking to have our system set up ready to go so that we can provide an online service for that,” Blair says.

“Since the TGA changed those rules last year, we realised we’re set up perfectly to do this because ultimately it still needs to be reviewed and approved by a pharmacist and it’s not like you can just sell it as an e-commerce store, so we’re in the best position to capitalise on the change of legislation.

“We’ve already got the technology to facilitate that, so we see that as a big opportunity.”

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