A long-time London-based entrepreneur re-surfaces today with the launch of Numan, a new kind of subscription business, with a rather unusual approach to a very old problem.
Sokratis Papafloratos (pictured) is one of the more “serial of serial” European entrepreneurs. He was one of the first investors in Calm.com, the mindfulness sleep and meditation site and app which recently attained Unicorn status. He also founded TrustedPlaces, the U.K.’s earliest and oldest local reviews site, which was Acquired by Yell Group Plc; family-photo-sharing platform, Togethera (which shuttered) and Secret Escapes, one of the U.K.’s first members-only travel companies.
Papafloratos is now turning his attention to a tricky subject for men: erectile dysfunction (ED).
The startup is backed by, it says, a group of top-tier investors, led by Vostok New Ventures (who led the round for Voi and are significant investors in Babylon Health). “Health” is where we get some more clues.
If you are familiar with businesses like Birch Box which sends women clothes on a subscription basis, you’ll be familiar with Numan. This online platform will aim to promote accessible medical remedies for ED whilst also building a brand and story-telling around health issues affecting men’s self-esteem and the lifestyle choices they make that might affect their condition.
While the early strategy will involve pharmaceuticals on subscription, the longer-term play, says Papafloratos, will be the offer of direct-to-consumer medical products to help control the symptoms of ED, along with online support from healthcare professionals. It will also involve editorial content to help men and women understand the issue. Eventually, this could be a sort of “Babylon Health for Men’s Health.” But for now, the MVP involves drugs and content.
In case you are unaware, erectile dysfunction is the inability to get and maintain an erection, a condition that apparently affects two-thirds of men in the U.K. at any one time. It has been linked to mental health and lifestyle factors, such as anxiety, stress, alcohol and relationships. That means Numan will automatically have an audience, perhaps embarrassed by their predicament, who probably would rather look online for solutions than go for therapy or medical help.
Treatment will be offered in the form of generic solutions, such as Sildenafil and soon Tadalafil, and Viagra Connect. All medication provided by Numan is licensed for sale in the U.K. by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which also oversees the authorisation of the numan.com to sell medicines online.
By selecting a treatment on the Numan homepage, consumers will be able to create an account and complete a short questionnaire covering symptoms and medical history. Then a member of Numan’s qualified clinical team will assess their suitability for the treatment. Once approval is granted, a prescription is created and the tablets are shipped and delivered within 48 hours.
Numan next plans to expand its health and grooming offering to include skin and hair treatment for men.
Papafloratos says: “We’re not just providing an online pharmacy though. We’re putting real emphasis on providing you with the knowledge you need to make the right decisions for you. So we’re releasing The Book of Erections — an in-depth guide on how your erections come about, or sometimes don’t and what you can do about it. We’re also supporting that with in-depth information on our blog.”
He says the startup ran a survey of 1,000 men and 1,000 women in the U.K. earlier this year and found that from the men who reported having erectile dysfunction symptoms, only 42 percent sought help on the issue.