This is everything you need to know about it
We spoke to the CXO and co-founder of Echo to find out more about the firms app and how it helps those using NHS prescriptions.
– Company: Echo
– What it does, in a sentence: Echo is a simple, free and secure app that lets patients order NHS prescriptions and get medication delivered to their door. Smart reminders tell users when to take their meds, and when they are going to run out.
– Founded: July 2015
– Founder/s: Sai Lakshmi & Stephen Bourke
– Size of team: 21
– Your name and role: Stephen Bourke, CXO & co-founder
What problem are you trying to solve?
Almost half of all adults take a repeat prescription, but 40 per cent of medication isn’t taken as per GP directions, costing the NHS billions in waste each year. Echo’s mission is to remove the barriers to medication adherence through an elegant, user-focused design.
Echo also tackles major sources of waste in the NHS, including an estimated 20m unnecessary GP/A&E appointments relating to repeat prescriptions, £350m in exemption fraud and £300m in medicine waste.
How big is the market – and how much of it do you think you can own?
A total of 1.25bn prescription items were dispensed in 2015, twenty items for every person in the UK. Almost half of all adults now take a repeat prescription, with 40 per cent of items prescribed for patients under 60, Echo’s target market (for now).
Given our ageing population the volume of prescriptions is only set to rise, putting a huge amount of strain on limited NHS resources. Echo users are diverse but have a love of technology in common – once we attract a quorum of early adopters, we will look to grow into less tech-savvy segments.
We are also exploring opportunities across continental Europe and are in talks with potential partners keen to take our model international.
How do you make money?
Echo’s business model is akin to Deliveroo for repeat prescriptions. We partner with best-in-class community pharmacies, who are responsible for dispensing medication. Echo drives order volume to its partners and return takes a cut of the gross profit they receive from the NHS. From a patient’s perspective, using Echo costs no more than using a bricks & mortar pharmacy, as home delivery is offered free of charge.
Who’s on your team that makes you think you can do this?
Take a British CEO (Oxford DPhil, ex-Bain, Ex-Apple), an Irish CXO (with two successful healthtech start-ups under his belt), a Scottish clinical director (pharmacist and UCL lecturer), two NHS doctors, an Indian pharmacist, a French data expert (ex-Apple), an English ops manager (ex-Aldi), a Dutch Android Dev (ex-JustPark), a Spanish Node engineer (ex-Firefly), a Kiwi security lead (ex-Dare), a Polish iOS Dev (ex-Foundry), an Italian designer (ex-Lowe), a South African backend engineer (ex-Skype) and a diverse team of customer service experts from all over the world, and you get Echo.
Who’s bankrolling you?
Local Globe, Global Founders Capital, angels.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to secure that kind of finance?
There will be times when no one returns your calls, and times when you feel like the hottest startup in town. Don’t get distracted by the rollercoaster ride, don’t give up.
What do you believe the key to growing this business is?
User experience and recruiting/retaining the best possible talent.
What metrics do you look at every day?
We are a data heavy business, so it’s easier to highlight the most important – NPS (Net Promoter Score).
What’s been the most unexpectedly valuable lesson you’ve learnt so far?
Invest in a good coffee machine! When Sai brought in the Jura I was skeptical… it’s paid for itself many, many times over since.
What’s been your biggest mistake so far?
No major issues, but we’ve have had to learn to radically prioritise stuff and make big decisions, fast.
What do you think is on the horizon for your industry in the year ahead?
The NHS is at its breaking point, and the Autumn Budget will be interesting. We could see a fundamental change in how important services are funded, which will be disruptive. From a healthtech perspective, it’s important that we start to demonstrate our value in the form of cashable savings to the NHS.
Which London start-ups are you watching, and why?
We’re inspired by start-ups that prioritise design in industries that sorely need a lick of paint. Monzo is good example of this. Sai and I also love http://www.bokitla.com/, a street-food stand that specialises in Bokit, a Guadeloupean kebab. A different sort of start-up, but the team has incredible energy and a great product.
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