In 2020, Dr. Geoffrey Kiprop and two of his friends set out to start an online pharmacy. His experience in the medical field had revealed a rather sad scenario of patients having to search for medicine in various pharmacies without the guarantee of receiving quality products.
With the support of his friends and co-founders, Dr. Kiprop was able to come up with a solution to this. They founded Pharmily, an online platform for clients to access quality medical products at the comfort of their homes.
In this exclusive interview with WoK, Dr. Kiprop discusses his decision to leap into the e-commerce game, the highly competitive online pharmacy marketplace, and what it takes to keep an internet business prosperous and profitable.
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Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do
My name is Dr. Geoffrey Kiprop. I a Pharmacist by profession. I am also the founder of Pharmily, an online pharmacy that sells quality health, beauty and over the counter products.
When did you start the company?
We started the company in 2020, then closed down a few months later because we were not able to handle the demands of the pandemic then. We later reopened in late 2020, mostly serving COVID-19 patients. Last year was our full operational year.
What was the motive behind starting Pharmily?
When I was on my internship, I remember seeing patients having trouble looking for medicine. Some could go to more than two stores and still lack medicine. A majority of them were also not able to identify quality products or medicines. They could rely on my knowledge of medicine to purchase a certain product.
That is when it hit me. I thought that if somebody could come up with a platform to deliver products efficiently to clients, then that would help reduce the problems they face when purchasing drugs.
What products do you sell on the platform?
We have a wide array of products. Currently we have a collection of beauty products and wellness products like supplements. We also recently introduced a prescription process where we are able to prescribe medicine for our clients.
How difficult is it for you as a small business to compete with the more established companies in this field?
Like any other business, before you are an established brand people always have doubts if you will make it. Luckily, the founders have the necessary experience required to make it. We are leveraging on this experience to push us to the top.
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Take us through the user journey on the Pharmily website
There are two user journeys. One, if it is prescription medicine, the user simply has to log in and post their prescription. Our team then confirms if the prescription is valid or not, then adds the prescribed items to the cart and sends a quote to the client. Upon the client’s approval, the items are delivered and then paid on delivery.
The other user journey is for non-prescribed items like supplements and beauty products. The client simply adds the items to their cart, indicate their location, and approve delivery.
What impact do you think Pharmily has on society?
We have three pillars of operation; quality, affordability and convenience. Being experts in the profession, we are able to source for quality products. Our impact is the assurance that we are able to deliver quality products at a relatively affordable price to our clients.
The pharmaceutical sector is currently flooded with substandard medication? What are your thoughts on this?
It is true that there exists a huge number of substandard items in the market because of unethical practice by certain industry players. It is quite unfortunate because some of these products are detrimental to human health, and that is why Pharmacy is here, to supply people with legitimate and quality products.
What proposals do you have to help in the regulation of these substandard products?
We cannot do it alone. We need a multi-sectoral approach in order to eradicate the sale of these substandard products. All players have to agree and accept government regulations put in place to curb this menace. If we do not do this then we will always have this problem.
What are some of the challenges you face in this business?
The biggest challenge we faced especially in the beginning was lack of enough funding. We needed a lot of money to market and source products, because the business is generally capital intensive.
How important is timely delivery of medical products to patients?
Efficient delivery of products is very important. Time is of essence especially for clients who have serious medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Sometimes depending on the patient’s condition, we try to call and check in on them as some of these drugs are life-saving.
What are looking to do in the future?
In the near future we hope to consolidate Kenya then move to other East African countries. We are also looking at establishing telemedicine services. We have noticed that some of our clients would benefit from consultation services from Doctors and Specialists. Many of our clients also call in to enquire on the use of certain medicines and certain conditions. Bringing on board telemedicine will be a great addition to our services.
What is your advice to beginners in this industry?
Be persistent and have patience. It takes time and a bit of patience to make it in the pharmaceutical industry. They should not give up on their first attempt.
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