YC-backed Remedial Health raises $1 million pre-seed to digitize pharmacies in Nigeria
Remedial Health has secured $1 million in pre-seed funding to digitize pharmacies, and stem the supply of fake and substandard pharmaceutical products, starting with Nigeria before expanding to the rest of Africa.
The round was led by Global Ventures and Ventures Platform, with participation from Ingressive Capital, Voltron Capital, Opeyemi Awoyemi’s (Jobberman co-founder) Angel Syndicate Fund, and other angel investors, including Flutterwave’s Olugbenga “GB” Agboola and Victor Asemota.
Part of the new funding will be used to extend the startup’s buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) offering, for an even wider reach.
Founded in 2020 by Samuel Okwuada, a trained pharmacist and self-taught software developer, together with his co-founder Victor Benjamin, Remedial Health started off as a private label business, focused on contract manufactured products from markets like India, which they would then sell to pharmacies in Nigeria.
“That business was pretty small. But at least we were in the market and we were growing,” said Okwuada, who pursued his MSc in Pharmacy at the University of East Anglia, in the UK.
Okwuada started his entrepreneurial journey while still at the university, where he built SaaS products, before using his experience in tech, and training as a pharmacist to launch Remedial together with Benjamin, a pharmaceutical field sales agent.
Months after starting the business, and due to a shift in market demand, and supply chain disruptions exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, Remedial Health started moving in a different direction — as their customers began making orders for products that were outside their private label offering.
To keep up with the emerging demand, and to streamline the ordering process, they developed a patient medication records (PMR) system that made sourcing easy, and digitized pharmacies.
Remedial Health’s system allows pharmacies to manage their operations, make and track orders – which the startup says it fulfills within 24 hours. The platform also stores patients’ medical records and supports reporting and accounting.
“For those using the system, because we can basically see their shelves, we are solving their supply issues by ensuring that they’re getting the products when they need them. And so they don’t have to go to the market and waste time by going through 20 to 30 individual distributors to buy all the medicines and supplies that they need.”
Aware that there is a market segment that will take a while to digitize, Remedial has an online shop that allows pharmacy owners not using its system to make orders through an app.
“We don’t force everyone to use the system because we don’t assume that every single pharmacy has a computer and constant power supply. And because we know that the major problem is supply, we make it possible for them to access the procurement system on their phones.”
The system helps Remedial to conduct inventory monitoring, which cuts stockouts by redirecting products that are not moving in one pharmacy to where supply is short, or demand is high.
The startup has a main distribution center supported by hubs spread across its regions of operation for a faster turnaround time – making it possible to “reach any pharmacy from any of our hubs within an hour.”
Last mile delivery is done through its in-house logistics operation, or by its partners but the plan is to integrate its system with a major logistics player in Nigeria for a seamless end-to-end solution.
Remedial Health currently covers six states with plans to expand across the west African country, and to enter additional African markets before the end of the year. They are also planning to extend their reach in the regions that they are currently in.
Remedial, also part of the Winter 2022 cohort of Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator accelerator, sources its products from over 100 pharmaceutical manufacturers and suppliers, including GSK, Pfizer and Astrazeneca, as well as Nigeria’s Orange Drugs, Emzor and Fidson Healthcare.
To date, the startup has over 300 pharmacies making orders through its app, and a number of others using WhatsApp. It also extends credit to pharmacies with plans to expand the coverage of this financing service.
“The pharmacies don’t have to pay for products upfront; in some cases, they pay deposits, maybe 20%, and then pay the balance over time, but depending on how well we’ve known them, it can even be 100% financing.”
By extending financing and ensuring the supply of standard products to pharmacies, Remedial Health has joined the growing list of tech-enabled businesses that are digitizing the pharmaceutical supply chains, which currently remain fragmented and in-efficient, leading to the proliferation in markets of fake and substandard products. Other notable startups in the space are Kenya’s MyDawa, Ghana’s mPharma and Nigeria’s DrugStoc.
Remedial Health, according to its founders, is not just looking to correct the supply chain challenges only, but to do it while bringing primary healthcare closer to people.
“These pharmacies are less than a 15-minute walk from people’s houses, and I feel that is the way to transform healthcare in Africa –By adding diagnostic services, and a doctor to these neighborhood pharmacies — by literally bringing everything to the people, we would really transform healthcare in Africa,” said Okwuada.
Tesla brings back European referral program as end of Q1 nears
Tesla is bringing back its referral program to Europe, a strategy that taps into the brand loyalty of customers as it seeks to preserve market share and boost sales before the first quarter of 2023 closes.
The referral program follows Tesla’s move to reduce prices in a variety of markets, including Europe, China and North America.
Starting Tuesday in Europe, new Tesla buyers can receive 100 so-called “Loot Box Credits” when referred by a current Tesla owner, who will get 2,000 credits for the referral. If the referred customer takes delivery before March 31, 2023, they’ll get a bonus of 5,000 free Supercharging kilometres, and the referrer will get 10,000 credits. Those credits can be redeemed for software upgrades, up to 10,000 kilometers of free Supercharging “and more.”
Tesla has never used traditional advertising, so the company has historically used its referral program to get its loyal customer base to promote vehicles. Those rewards have changed over the last few years. At certain points, owners could win rewards like having a photo of their choosing launched into deep space orbit, an invite to an upcoming Tesla event, or even free new Roadsters to owners who accumulated enough referrals.
Tesla realized such extravagant rewards were starting to eat into profits, so in 2019 the automaker paused the program and came back with a more reasonable one that gives the referral giver and receiver 1,000 miles of free Supercharging each.
Last November, Tesla launched a revamped referral program in the U.S., which gives out credits that can be put towards the purchase of Tesla solar products, like the Solar Roof and Solar Panels. Tesla also launched a program in China called Treasure Box, where owners get credits that can be used towards the purchase of accessories like vehicle chargers, t-shirts or shot glasses.
The move in Europe suggests that Tesla is trying to hold onto, or even grow, its market share dominance. Tesla was the most popular EV brand in Europe last year, with the Model Y and Model 3 topping the ranks at 138,373 and 91,257 sales, respectively. Following behind were the Volkswagen ID.4 with 68,409 unit sales, the Fiat 500 electric with 66,732, and the Ford Kuga plug-in hybrid EV with 55,018 sales, according to Inside EVs.
While Tesla was the most popular EV brand in Europe last year, it actually falls behind the large multi-brand OEMs. Volkswagen Group, which includes brands like Audi and VW, actually has the largest market share of plug-in EVs with 20.6%. Stellantis, BMW Group and Hyundai follow with 14.6%, 10.5% and 10.1%, respectively. Mercedes and Tesla are tied at around 9% share.
As of this week, Tesla has finally hit production capacity of 5,000 vehicles per week at its Berlin gigafactory — a milestone CEO Elon Musk had originally promised for the end of 2022. While production numbers don’t equal sales, it’s possible that the increased production in Europe could help the automaker maintain its position and gain even more market share in the future.
The referral program isn’t the only move Tesla has made to boost sales, particularly before it reports quarterly earnings. In January, Tesla cut prices for Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in the U.S. and Europe by 20%. Earlier this month, the automaker slashed Model S and Model X prices in the U.S. as well.
In December 2022, Tesla also provided up to $7,500 discounts for vehicles purchased and delivered before the end of the year in the hopes of attracting buyers who might otherwise wait for the new year when Inflation Reduction Act incentives would kick in.
Pinterest brings shopping capabilities to Shuffles, its collage-making app
Pinterest announced today that it’s testing ways to integrate Shuffles collage content into Pinterest, starting with shopping. Shuffles, which is Pinterest’s collage-making app, launched to general public last November. To use Shuffles, users build collages using Pinterest’s own photo library or by snapping photos of objects they want to include with their iPhone’s camera. The iOS-only app is available in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
Shuffles will now have all of the shopping capabilities as regular pins. Users will be able to tap individual cutouts used in collages, see the brand, price, and other product metadata along with similar products to shop.
“Unlike typical product exploration, Shuffles bring an interactivity that makes the experience inspirational and fun,” the company said in a blog post. “Gen-Z is curating fresh, relevant content alongside their peers, which is quickly making for a marketplace of trendy, shoppable ideas. The high density nature of Shuffles, which can include layers of product cutouts from multiple Pins, allows consumers to dig deeper and also connect to other Shuffles that include the same Pins. As we look ahead to how consumer behavior is evolving, we’re testing ways of integrating Shuffles collage content into Pinterest, starting with shopping.”
Although Shuffles surged to become the No. 1 Lifestyle app on the U.S. App Store in August when it was invite-only, the app’s popularity has since declined. By bringing shopping capabilities to Shuffles, Pinterest is likely looking for ways to retain users on the standalone app.
Pinterest also announced that it’s exploring a new takeover feature for advertisers called “Pinterest Premiere Spotlight” that prominently showcases a brand on search. The company says the feature is designed give advertisers a new way to reach users on Pinterest.
The company says 97% of top searches on Pinterest are unbranded, which means users typically don’t type a brand name into their searches on the platform. This gives brands the opportunity to be discovered as they help consumers go from discovery to decision to purchase, Pinterest says. In the coming months, the company planes to offer additional ways to help brands connect with shoppers.
Pinterest also shared some new stats about its Catalogs offering, which lets brands upload their full catalog to the platform and turn their products into dynamic Product Pins. The company says it has seen a 66% increase in retailers setting up shop by uploading or integrating their digital catalogs on its platform, along with 70% growth in active shopping feeds year over year globally.
As part of its most recent earnings release, Pinterest revealed that its platform now has 450 million monthly active users globally, a 4% jump year-on-year. Pinterest has been focused on enhancing the shopping experience on its platform over the past few years, and said during its earnings call that it wants to make every pin shoppable, including videos.
The tide has shifted for solo GPs
Welcome to Startups Weekly, a nuanced take on this week’s startup news and trends by Senior Reporter and Equity co-host Natasha Mascarenhas. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here.
It’s hard to be proactive after the tide has already shifted. However, that’s what we’re seeing happen in the solo GP world, where investors, hearing about institutional investor risk appetite changing, are extending fundraising timelines, cutting investment vehicle targets or planning to leave venture altogether. Some have learned it the hard way, while others, like Sahil Lavingia, are telling LPs to literally cancel their checks if they feel guilty about investing in venture capital while the market rocks and interest rates boom.
It’s a shift from the fund of fund mentality that felt commonplace last year, in which investment firms cut checks to early-stage, experimental investors to de-risk and even lead first checks into a generation of new startups. Now, the idea of backing just one, feels like a harder sell — depending on which institution you’re speaking to.
For my full take on this burgeoning tension within the venture world read my TC+ column: “Are solo GPs screwed?”
I know some of us are still reeling from the SVB mess, which is still very much unfolding. My hope with this piece is to offer nuance on how the market moves on from here for a very specific subset of check writers. In other words, yes, there’s a dreary dark cloud that is now more visible than before. But umbrellas exist. Somewhere.
In the rest of this newsletter we’re talking AI, icons and demo days. As always, you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram to continue the conversation. You can also send me tips at email@example.com or on Signal at +1 925 271 0912. No pitches, please.
It’s never GM; it’s only AI
Now that I apparently live in Cerebral Valley, it’s quite easy to find investors, founders or my great friends in the middle of a passionate conversation about artificial intelligence. Heck, we even screencast ChatGPT trying to explain SVB during wine night, recently.
Despite the overactive news scene, thanks to ChatGPT plug-ins, Google’s entrance and Canva’s magic, the best piece I read all week came from our own Devin Coldeway. In this analysis, Coldeway published a head-to-head comparison of top generative AI tools — asking them to create everything from a phishing email to code.
Here’s what to know: In the AI world, the compounding effect is almost impossible to encapsulate. Tech keeps beating itself, and advancement is only to be celebrated with a grain of hopeful salt. But, see it yourself if you don’t believe me!
Overheard at Techstars’ demo day
I went to an in-person demo day for the first time since 2019 this week, courtesy of 500 Global. There was a special, earnest energy in the room, partially because, as 500’s CEO Christine Tsai said, the 19 companies are sharing their vision for the future “around one of the darkest backdrops of Silicon Valley.” More to come on specific learnings, but below I thought I’d bullet point some of the tidbits I overheard while at the accelerator’s pitch session.
- “I find it very insightful to compare your revenue growth with your team growth — I personally don’t like operations-heavy companies, I definitely want to see more investment in the R&D and product [teams],” Cindy BI, partner at CapitalX.
- “We’re officially teenagers,” Tsai said on the accelerator’s 13th birthday.
- “When you think of a brand, you probably think of something like Nike. But to Gen Z, some of the biggest brands are people,” Detoure founder and CEO Meghan Russell.
- “We know how to get exits done,” Peter Wachira, CEO of Tripitaca, later adding, “We know how to get shit done.”
One of venture’s most iconic duos wants to have a word with you
I published a podcast interview with Kapor Capital’s Freada Kapor Klein and Mitch Kapor, the entrepreneurial investing couple behind the top-tier impact investing outfit. The duo published a book recently, so we talk about that, their choice to step away from investing and the legacy they’re continuing to build out.
Here’s one key moment from the podcast: “It’s also worth pointing out, in the early days, there were a couple of people, white men, who were thinking about working with us and decided we weren’t going to make enough money so they went elsewhere. So I hope they’re kicking themselves and I hope they’ve learned something,” said Kapor Klein.
- I was on comedian Alexis Gay’s podcast, Non-technical, earlier this month to talk about everything other than my day job. Come for the croissant hate; stay for the devil’s advocate advocacy.
- Also, listen to Found, a podcast about the stories behind the startups. This week, the team published an interview with the brains behind “a genetics startup that looks to bring extinct species back to life to help with environmental conservation efforts.” Jaw = dropped.
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