Top Deal: Could This Startup Be The Next Pillpack?

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At time of publication, May 21, NowRX had raised $2.2M surpassing its $450K minimum


We’ve all been there. You get sick and go to the doctor, who then tells you to go and get a prescription for whatever ailment you are currently dealing with. Nothing quite like going to a CVS on the other side of town to hang out for 45 minutes while they fill your order, am I right?


Not only is the process friction filled from a customer experience standpoint, but is also a costly business to run with lots of overhead, which only helps to drive up the cost of healthcare services. In an age of on-demand everything, our pharmaceutical purchase experience should be no different.


The $260B retail RX market is in need of innovation that will help to mirror the experience customers have come to demand from e-commerce companies like Amazon. As crazy as that may sound, more-and-more C-Suite individuals from across highly regulated and slow moving industries like financial services and healthcare are speaking out on the impact that Amazon is having on customer experience demands. Customers have come to expect frictionless purchasing experiences, vast selection, and free, quick delivery no matter what the product is, be checks for a new bank account, or medicine for your sore throat.


The pharmacy industry has also been slow to innovate on ways to improve medication adherence and mistakes in medical dispensing. If we want better healthcare outcomes we will need to see more solutions like a PillPack finding unique and innovative solutions to improve both error rates and adherence.


NowRX is creating an on-demand pharmacy delivery system that is going to create cost efficiencies for the healthcare world, better service for the customer, and improved adherence to pharmaceuticals.


The solution involves creating automated drug dispensary centers that are completely automated from acceptance of the prescription to fulfillment, with free same day delivery. Customers can order through their phone via app or text to mimic services like Uber. This is enabled by the pharmacy management system the team has built on the backend to ensure accurate, compliant and friendly communications with customers. And for just $5 customers can get their medicine delivered to their door in just 1 hour.


If you think about the cost efficiencies this creates, the team touts an ability to service a geographic radius that is 5X that of a traditional drug store with its NowRX delivery service. Instead of having to build 30 or 40 CVS drug stores in a city to service customers, NowRX can build one. That type of efficiency, cost savings and improvement on customer experience is why they have been able to close agreements with McKesson, Express Scripts, Caremark and OptumRx.

It is also that efficiency that enables free same day delivery while still leaving enough margin for the company to be profitable. The fulfillment centers are extremely lean in terms of staff but the staff that is present can focus less on the manual process of finding drugs and more on ensuring quality of experience. The team is also building out its data analytics to determine ways in the future to help customers better adhere to their pharmaceutical regimens.


Once again the team is finding ways to provide value add to the healthcare system at large, which means many stakeholders, from the insurers, to the pharmaceutical organizations have a stake in seeing a business like this succeed.

Why We Like it

  1. Massive market opportunity: NowRX is innovating in the $260B retail RX market that has been dominated by old, stodgy organizations like CVS and Walgreens to date. Though there are a handful of startup competitors such as Alto, PillPack, and Caps ule innovating in this space too, there is more than enough room for several companies to win out in this space and have successful exits or IPOs.
  2. Market traction: To date, the team has only rolled out 1 center in San Francisco. With this one center the team most recently reported that ARR is at $4.3M. And the team expects each center to drive $10M in annual revenue when at full tilt. In addition during 2017, the company experienced 236% revenue growth, and since launch has serviced 5,900 customers and fulfilled 28K prescriptions.
    1. This team has shown an ability to execute on the vision successfully and with no red flags to date in the SF market.
  3. Demand for healthcare transformation: Increasingly, insurance companies which continue to raise the cost of healthcare are demanding better measures of performance to justify cost of treatments, drugs, etc. NowRX fits in perfectly with this vision because it is both more affordable, drives better adherence to drugs, and thus improves outcomes. This is something that will likely become industry standard in the years to come. That gives NowRX a strong market position early in the game.
  4. Ripe market for acquisition: Recently it was announced that PillPack is in talks with Amazon to be acquired for somewhere in the neighborhood of $1B as the organization looks to provide a uniquely differentiated offering for customers in comparison to traditional pharmacies. Amazon was also reportedly pursuing the company too as the battle to own the “e-commerce” pharmacy starts to heat up. Now RX could see some intriguing acquisition offerings in the near future.

The Leadership

Cary Brees: Co-Founder & CEO


Cary Breese is an electrical engineer who has spent the past 15+ years turning around businesses and driving huge returns for investors including at a struggling insurance business. He also led a tech company called GenieDB in a complete product and business model redirect that ended in an acquisition from a large multinational telecom organization. He also helped found a successful $50M VC fund all before starting NowRx. Needless to say Cary is extremely seasoned in building businesses, managing tight balance sheets and successfully returning investors money.


Sumeet Shoekand: Co-Founder & CTO


Sumeet Shoekand has a great deal of experience in managing product development with past management experience as Tech Manager at Experian and VP of Tech at X1 Technologies, an enterprise software company. He also has experience working with Cary, because he was the CTO at GenieDB during the turnaround efforts, which included a full product redirect.


The Recommendation:

With a pre-money valuation of $20M, and more than $4M in current ARR in just 1 west coast market that has yet to be fully penetrated, I’d say the valuation is low if anything. High growth tech companies growing over 200% YoY, can often fetch much higher valuations.

I think they are also playing in a market that is desperate for innovation and with movement from a major corporation like Amazon to acquire that tech for nearly a billion dollars bodes well for what could be coming down the pike. Building pharmacy tech is not easy and major corporations like a CVS or Amazon seem like reasonable strategic acquirers looking to create competitive offerings in this space.

With the tech lead on the robotics, automation, compliance, and the data capabilities being built, this team seems poised to have a major breakout opportunity. Cary Breese and Sumeet Shoekand are also highly seasoned, intelligent leaders who have a track record of building successful tech companies.

For those reasons I recommend NowRX as a Top Deal on the fact that they have strong leadership, terrific market traction, a defensible tech and data moat, a market ripe for disruption and the offering is well aligned with consumer trends.

About: Chris Lustrino

A Boston College Eagle for life, on a mission to democratize startup investing for all people at KingsCrowd, with a passion for Fintech, investing, social impact, doing well and doing good, and an avid runner, cyclist and writer.

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