Microsoft leads MedMe’s C$3.4 million funding round to help pharmacies grow beyond retail
Microsoft’s VC arm embraces MedMe’s vision of transforming pharmacies into community health centers.
After establishing a presence in Canada, where it played an important role in helping pharmacies administer COVID-19 vaccines last year, MedMe Health raised 3.4 million Canadian dollars (2.7 million US dollars) in seed funding to launch its pharmaceutical operating software in new markets.
To date, the Toronto-based Y Combinator graduate has amassed a list of over 3,600 Canadian customers ranging from independent pharmacies to some of Canada’s largest drugstore chains, including Rexall, Shoppers Drug Mart, Guardian and Pharmasave, for which he adapted its platform. during the pandemic.
“Our ability to respond [the] the pandemic really, hugely depended on the role of pharmacies and pharmacists.
-Purya Sarmadi, MedMe Health
Now, with backing from Microsoft’s venture capital arm, M12, MedMe aims to leverage its recent growth and bring its platform to pharmacies across the United States (US).
In an interview with BetaKit, MedMe co-founder and CEO Purya Sarmadi described COVID-19 as a “validation” of MedMe’s pre-pandemic assumption that “the future of pharmacy is service-based.” highlighting how Canada’s response to COVID-19 relied on pharmacies to administer vaccines, boosters and tests.
“I think it was an eye-opening experience for our healthcare system, the public, as well as pharmacists themselves about what the future holds,” Sarmadi said.
During the pandemic, MedMe has experienced significant growth, helping pharmacies administer over 544,000 flu shots, over 2.22 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and over 155,000 COVID-19 tests. In December alone, 760,000 appointments were made through its platform.
According to Priyanka Mitra, Director of M12, in the midst of COVID-19, “pharmacies tend to become the community health centers of the future”. Mitra described MedMe’s capabilities as “essential in the new normal, as evidenced by their incredibly high adoption rates by pharmacies and pharmacists across North America.”
MedMe’s software platform helps pharmacies engage with patients, streamline workflows and automate documentation. MedMe claims to serve more than eight million unique patients by helping its brick-and-mortar pharmacy customers schedule appointments and manage large-scale clinical services.
RELATED: MaRS Launches New $100M Graphite IAF Fund
MedMe’s all-equity seed funding in January was led by M12 with participation from return investor MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (MaRS IAF), Graphite Ventures – which recently spun off from MaRS – and Y Combinator. The announcement comes about a year after MedMe closed its CAD $750,000 pre-seed round led by MaRS IAF, and brings the company’s total funding to CAD $4.7 million ($3.7 million US dollars).
“Two years ago, we invested (through MaRS IAF) in Purya, Rui and Nick with the vision of arming pharmacists with a next-generation toolset to deliver new clinical services,” said Connor Edwards , an investor in Graphite Ventures. “Fast forward to today, MedMe is quickly becoming an integral part of the modern pharmacy technology stack.”
Sarmadi, a healthcare IT and analytics professional turned entrepreneur, said MedMe’s thesis is based on the idea that “online pharmacies are coming” and that to be competitive, brick-and-mortar pharmacies must either “sell more candy bars and popcorn, or… do more health care services.
Founded in 2019 by Sarmadi, Clinical Director Rui Su and Chief Product Officer Nicholas Hui, MedMe began serving independent pharmacies in late 2020, targeting small operators to start as they were “more nimble” and ready to adapt than the big players.
RELATED: Telus Health Launches Nationwide Virtual Pharmacy Service
But according to Sarmadi, when the pandemic “forced the need for this type of software” across the board, MedMe adapted its platform to serve pharmacy chains, and today the startup is responding to both.
“Historically, pharmacy software has been largely monolithic,” Sarmadi said. “It was generally not designed for integration, and it was also very siloed.”
Conversely, MedMe’s strategy revolves around building a modular, “integrated first” and API-driven operating system.
“A lot of our competitors in this space… [are] iterate on what pharmacy is today,” Sarmadi said. “We are really trying to create this unique operating system for the pharmacy of the future.”
RELATED: MedNow Closes $37M IPO as It Prepares to List on TSXV
To date, MedMe has built “the basic toolkit” to support services in pharmacies. The startup currently helps pharmacies provide “simpler services” like appointment scheduling, but is looking to expand to serve more “medium and high complexity services” like diabetes monitoring.
MedMe is also looking to increase its presence south of the border and beyond. “We have seen tremendous growth and utility of our platform in Canada,” Sarmadi said. “We now look forward to taking our platform to the next level, not only from a product roadmap perspective, but also from a scalability perspective, in new markets and new healthcare systems. “
MedMe targets US states with “an expanded scope of practice for pharmacists” as a gap in primary care. The startup is launching with clients in Georgia, before moving into states like Oregon, Idaho and North Carolina. But its expansion plans don’t stop there.
“We see that there is a great need for our platform all over the world,” Sarmadi said.
Feature image courtesy of MedMe Health.