Manual has today announced it has closed a £5M seed round from leading venture capitalists Felix Capital in the UK, Germany-based Cherry Ventures, and Cassius Capital from the US, to establish its new holistic Men’s wellbeing platform. Launching today, the new website arms men with all the knowledge and tools needed to proactively solve their wellbeing and look after their health.
Manual’s vision is to improve the everyday lives of men by providing knowledge and solutions for every part of their wellbeing. Nearly 90 per cent of men don’t seek help unless they have a serious problem, according to a report by the National Pharmacy Association.
The goal is to change habits in the way men understand and fix their problems. Manual will provide users with products, services and content, using a holistic approach that will empower them to take action and deal with a problem, in the way they want. The company launches with solutions to two common problems, erectile dysfunction (ED) and hair loss.
Approximately 40 per cent of men are affected by ED by age 40, and men have a 20 per cent chance of hair loss in their 20s, and a 30 per cent chance in their 30s, according to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery. Manual launches with a focus on ED and hair loss but, will expand the platform to include solutions and knowledge on everything from sex to skin, and hair to general wellbeing.
The company was co-founded by marketing expert George Pallis, who played a critical role in the rapid growth of both Transferwise and Deliveroo, and Michalis Gkontas, a serial entrepreneur who successfully built and exited Forky to Vivartia in 2018. The two friends came together to develop a direct to consumer brand that would have a positive impact on customers and was based on their own passions and learnings.
George Pallis, CEO and Co-Founder of Manual said, “From personal experience we had both been deep in the start-up world for a while, and though it was an incredibly rewarding journey, the level of intensity and hard work required meant we were not looking after our wellbeing. That lack of focus on your health is seen in men of all background and industries, and our personal concerns were echoed by our colleagues and friends in the start-up community.
“It’s no secret that as men we aren’t always the most open or quick to act when we have a personal, health or aesthetic issue. From just saying ‘everything is ok’ and cracking on with life when we’re busy, to the information overload we experience when we ask Google, there are many reasons we don’t help ourselves sooner.
Pallis continued, “We wanted a trustworthy, convenient, and simple platform, so we built one. A single destination that makes today’s man take charge and make decisions about his well being. Manual is here for men to be better at helping themselves and to speak to the man of today. Our mission is for Manual to support a new positive direction for modern masculinity.”
Manual launches with medically proven solutions such as prescribed pills and will expand to other wellness products in the future. Content written by experts and medical professionals, will provide users with a step-by-step guide, accessible information, statistics, knowledge of side effects and alternative solutions to their problems.
The £5M seed round from Felix Capital, Cherry Ventures, Cassius Capital and angel investors, will be invested into the development and growth of the platform, into key problem areas for men with the further development of the team’s holistic approach. In addition, capital will be used to scale the team, split between Headquarters in London, and a technical team in Athens, and for further European expansion.
Since the company officially started building and developing the platform in July 2018, they have already brought on experts to shape the product and scale the team. Some of the key hires include Dr. Earim Chaudry, former Clinical Lead at Ada Health and an expert in online medical and clinical services, who joins as Medical Director, and Daniel Sauva, former Head of Creative for Transferwise, who joins as Head of Brand.
Frederic Court, Partner at Felix Capital, said, “Imagine a world where men are good to themselves and those around them. Ask any man how or when he takes care of himself, and the answers you get are eye opening. Simply put, we’re bad at it. From worrying we’ll be judged by society to brands talking to us in the wrong way, there are plenty of reasons why we don’t look after ourselves. Manual is on a clear mission to change this and make it easier for men to understand their problems and fix them. We know Manual can help and we want to support the exceptional team on delivering this vision of improving the wellbeing of men.”
Speaking on the investment into Manual, Christian Meermann, Founding Partner of Cherry Ventures, added: “Wellbeing as a market has continued to rapidly grow over the past few years with no signs of slowing down. The demands on people of today are far higher than 50 years ago, but we also know so much more that is backed by science and available to help us.
“And yet actually taking the time to invest into the most crucial person – yourself – often seems an after-thought for many men. We believe Manual will become the go-to guide for today’s modern man and will challenge old school masculinity so that men really can make positive changes without fear of judgement.”