French startup 1001Pharmacies just raised $8.9 million (€8 million) from Newfund, CM-CIC Capital Privé, and business angels, such as Xaviel Niel, Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet and Olivier Mathiot. As the name suggests, 1001Pharmacies is an online pharmacy.
The company first let you order your prescription goods from their website. In order to avoid legal issues, 1001Pharmacies partnered with hundreds of brick-and-mortar pharmacies and acted as the middleman, handling deliveries, payments and listings.
Last August, the company had to stop its prescription delivery service as a French court ruled that delivering prescription goods was illegal. That’s why the company refocused on non-prescription goods, from toothpaste to vitamin C effervescent powder. As long as you don’t need a prescription, you can find it on 1001Pharmacies.
And it looks like this strategy is working as the company managed to raise €8 million despite last year’s ban. 1001Pharmacies still hopes that it will be able to sell prescription goods in the near future.
As this is a highly regulated industry, 1001Pharmacies faces challenges that it wouldn’t face in other countries. But if the startup can crack the code in France, it will create a significant barrier to entry for other potential competitors.
Finally, the marketplace approach is interesting. Not having to manage a huge inventory and many of the less-scalable tasks of an e-commerce startup is a great asset. Clients can even order stuff online and then grab them at their local pharmacy. It’s a great way to know for sure that the pharmacy will have what you are looking.
Pharmacies get a new sales channel, 1001Pharmacies takes a cut, and clients have another way to buy non-prescription goods. As these goods have very high margins, 1001Pharmacies may have found a lucrative business.