Berlin-based Mayd saw an opportunity to create a drug delivery platform in Europe that partners with the small-scale pharmacies that tend to be the norm on the continent, capitalizing on how the pandemic has generally expedited the request for on-demand delivery.
The startup, which was only founded earlier this year, has raised 13 million euros ($ 15 million) in seed funding from 468 Capital, Earlybird and Target Global to develop its vision of rapidly delivering drugs at the doorstep of Europeans – within 30 minutes if ordered before noon (or the next day, at a chosen time from 8am).
Regulatory restrictions and fragmentation across Europe, with a patchwork of country-specific prescribing rules, may explain why this use case hasn’t already been sewn up by a handful of pharmacy or platform giants.
The picture of drug delivery in Europe is very different from that of the United States, according to Mayd co-founder Lukas Pieczonka, who notes that a patchwork of rules may apply in different countries in Europe – including (again) some limitations on electronic prescriptions.
âMost American businesses are pharmacies. So they have a pharmacy license for each state or for a number of states and they operate like a pharmacy. For us that is not true – we are a platform for pharmacies and for consumers, âhe says. âWe will not be a pharmacy. We are going to work very closely with our partners, but we are not a pharmacy. I think that’s the biggest difference.
In Germany, where Mayd is making his debut, the country is gearing up for an e-prescribing system set to go live in January – as part of broader moves to digitize healthcare (such as introducing electronic patient records).
Such country regulations likely explain (in part) the large size of Mayd’s seed crop, as well as the usual technology and recruiting challenges of scaling an urban logistics applications business.
âIn Germany there is a different situation that can dispense drugs. In the end, the pharmacist needs to control the delivery process, which is slightly different from the typical delivery model, ânotes Pieczonka. âWe have set up an infrastructure where [the pharmacist] can really control what kind of delivery guy now delivers what to whomâ¦ If the pharmacist, for example, puts the wrong medicine in the bag or something, you should still be able to stop the delivery.
âSecond, there are a lot of regulations that you need to implement in your market as wellâ¦ so it’s not like you can just add them if you’re delivering food or any other delivery. You really need to focus on the specific segment in order to have credibility for the drugstores as well.
From next year, Germans will be able to get a digital prescription from their doctor that they can send to a pharmacy to fill – with reimbursement for the associated health insurance claim.
Delivering electronic prescriptions also means integrating into a specific pharmacy infrastructure – which in Germany will involve the use of QR codes.
Again, this isn’t just another product that can fit in the backpack of a booming food delivery guy.
That said, European regulations did not completely prevent such a model from being launched earlier, according to Pieczonka. But he argues the time is right – with the increasing digitization of healthcare and people in the region much more open to app-based delivery and convenience than they were before the pandemic.
âIn general, we could have done this model two years ago. In fact, it was also the first thing we asked ourselves why there is no one doing it in Germany – or probably in France or other big European countries. And in fact, we haven’t really found an answer. But what we found on our way is that there are a few regulatory tweaks for each country that you have to crack first until you can get to really operate, âhe suggests.
âWhen we looked at different topics – groceries, food delivery, drinks – you see that almost everything is delivered instantly. But if you’re sick and really don’t want to go out, you really need medicine.
It should be noted that there are a number of telehealth platforms operating private services in Europe that can provide prescription drugs directly and quickly after a virtual consultation with a doctor, such as Swedish Kry.
But – again – Mayd argues that there is room for several models to bring drugs to the doors of Europeans.
âYou’ll see different approaches: one solution is to just send your prescription to a pharmacy for you to pick up, the other tells you which pharmacy probably has it in stock, the other tells you where you probably get the price. cheaper for you. product. But these are all unique solutions and we think you have to integrate them, âexplains Pieczonka.
Mayd is gearing up for Germany to switch to electronic prescription reimbursement next year by launching a service now, ahead of this change – meaning it’s initially limited to the delivery of only over-the-counter items from partner pharmacies.
So from today, Berliners can kick the tires of its delivery service to get over-the-counter products like bandages or formula delivered to their doorstep.
And although there are on-demand delivery platforms in some European markets that could quickly deliver the same kind of products (without a prescription) that you might buy in a pharmacy – the Spanish Glovo, for example, shows up. as a “deliver anything” app – Mayd argues that there is room for a specialized platform for pharmacies given the complex and varying requirements of dispensing.
Starting in January, Mayd will be able to take orders for prescription items – linking patients to pharmacies that will process their prescriptions; pack their medicines for delivery (carried out by their delivery staff by electric bike or scooter who not working together but employed full time); and providing advice to the patient, either via a phone call or in text form through its app depending on the patient’s preference.
No prescription will be issued until the patient receives advice from pharmacists on how to take the drug and potential side effects, according to Pieczonka.
Mayd’s delivery service starts in the German capital – where he says most of the city is covered by partner pharmacies (it has around 30 so far) but needs to add more to reach the outskirts of Berlin.
Pieczonka also says Mayd will also expand the service to other cities in Germany this year – boasting an addressable market of 60 billion euros across the country as a whole.
ThisHis ambitions do not end there, as he envisions a wider European expansion. No decision has yet been made on which other regional markets to target, but Pieczonka seems confident that the model can evolve.
âOur first target is Germany, because it is the biggest market in Europe and if we do that we can also go to other countries. At the end of the day, you also see a bigger trend where everyone has their stuff delivered – so there is no reason why people in Spain or Italy or France or elsewhere should not. [medicines] delivered, âhe adds.
Mayd’s business model in Germany is to collect a commission from pharmacies on the sales of any non-prescription items she ships to them – and a delivery fee (or referral platform fee) for deliveries from electronic prescriptions.