The most rewarding part of hosting 33founders is featuring startups that are making a tangible difference in the world.
PillPack, a pharmacy built for the digital age, is the most recent company I raced to share with my family and friends.
Founded by TJ Parker and Elliot Cohen, PillPack is taking the enormous hassle out of calling in, managing and refilling your prescriptions.
The service is especially helpful for the 30 million Americans who take more than five prescription medications each day.
PillPack is a fully certified pharmacy that sends this box – I like to call it the blue box of health – to individuals twice a month.
Each box contains all of your prescriptions divided into individual packs based on when you’re supposed to take them.
The team’s also created a mobile app to remind you to take your medications.
The app is available for everyone, you don’t have to be registered with PillPack to use it, and the download process is seamless. All you have to do is enter your name, birthday and address and your prescriptions will automatically import to the app.
Once they import, you can set time or location based notifications to customize your reminders.
Since downloading the app this afternoon, I’ve received both my 5 o’clock and 6 o’clock reminders.
More importantly, the notifications fit nicely on my home screen; Subtle enough not irk me but distinct enough that I took my evening vitamins.
Despite PillPack’s core being a simple blue box, design is the founding value driving the startup’s success.
“Pharmacy was a service design problem that had never been thought about in the way that consumers have to experience it,” TJ shared.
“We wanted to throw that all away and replace it with something that worked in the way you hoped it would as a consumer,” he continued.
After participating in Techstars Fall 2012 class, PillPack partnered with IDEO to design a seamless user experience. Their highest priority was to create an extremely simple sign up that represents the change they’re bringing to the industry.
Registering with PillPack is similar to creating an account on an e-commerce website. Once you fill in your required information, the site displays each of the prescriptions you’re currently taking and enables you to choose which you’d like to switch to Pillpack.
Pharmacists then transfer all of your medications from your previous pharmacy and coordinate with your insurance carrier before shipping your PillPack.
The startup also manages your refills saving you additional calls to the pharmacy.
Most importantly, customer service representatives are available to help 24 hours a day.
Less than two and half years in PillPack’s filled and mailed over one million dose packs to customers in 48 states.
Despite being founded in 2013, the genesis of PillPack stems back to TJ’s childhood when he worked as an assistant delivering prescriptions for his father’s pharmacy.
Today, as CEO of a hyper-growth startup these are the two principles shaping his leadership:
1. Get out of the way.
2. Give feedback fast.
As PillPack grows their current team of 66, empowering individuals to take initiative has become increasingly important.
Find a balance between being close enough to things to provide guidance and make sure that everything is consistent, as well as getting out of the way enough for people to really succeed in their jobs.
Next, despite giving team members the freedom to run with projects, TJ is adamant about responding to questions fast.
As CEO, it’s especially important to be very timely with feedback and answers. You can be the necessary step for moving projects forward.
TJ’s honest and responsive leadership style is indicative of PillPack’s early success.
Only nine months after announcing that they’d raised an $8.8 million Series B, the team closed a $50 million Series C in June, bringing their total funding to $62.5 million.
The company is using the capital to expand their team and build brick and mortar stores.
“Part of the retail opportunity for us is to demonstrate what the relationship [between pharmacists and patients] should look like…The pharmacist to customer relationship is not about selling you more stuff. It’s about helping you take your meds and understand them,” TJ explained.
The storefronts will also simplify the process of picking up short-term prescriptions, such as antibiotics.
To learn more about the evolution of PillPack and where the young startup’s heading tune into TJ’s episode of 33founders and follow him on Twitter here.
Here’s a glimpse of what we discuss:
- The design shaping the PillPack experience
- When it’s time to grow your team
- How great leaders balance being supportive and getting out of the way
- PillPack’s future playbook