Medly’s Story: Unfold 6 Important Entrepreneurial Lessons

Serving as the co-founder and CEO of Medly, Marg Patel has helped to develop this model which now makes prescriptions easier and more accessible than ever. Under his leadership, the company has grown big in revenue since its inception in 2017.
Medly Pharmacy store on main street in New York
Courtesy: Medly Pharmacy
By | 10 min read

Medly’s founders are second-generation pharmacy operators with extensive experience in the industry. They identified an opportunity to use technology to improve retail pharmacies, so they founded the company to transform the way people think about pharmacy care. This New York City-based company delivers a patient’s prescription medication the same day. A patient’s prescriptions can be sent to the Medly platform by their doctor. Customers can also manage their refills and have them delivered to them in person using the service. To coordinate services, Medly will also engage with providers and insurance companies.

How It Addresses the Service Gaps

Today, patients desire comfort and convenience in services as the consumerization of healthcare grows. This has consequences in terms of how people obtain their prescriptions, and startups are taking notice. Getting a prescription filled at a pharmacy may be a significant hassle. People may face long lines to speak with a pharmacist, insurance concerns, and the need to travel long distances merely to get their medications.

The current pharmacy landscape is a confusing and complex system. The sector is heavily regulated, the ecosystem is intricate, and various stakeholders are involved at every stage of the value chain. Aggressive consolidation has also led to oligarchic dynamics and complacency. Pharmacies just don’t feel like they’re very customer-oriented, which is something that Patel picked up on after many years of working within this industry. 

Therefore, Patel ventured off to create a full-service, digital pharmacy that delivers prescription medications to patients for free, on the same day, starting with a focus on customers based in New York City. Medly is solving real challenges, it’s humanizing the service and free same-day delivery that helps the company stand out in the existing pharmacy space. As the company did its diligence, all players in its ecosystem communicated acute service gaps. 

“I co-founded Medly in June 2017, but my family has been in the pharmacy business since the 1980s. I am a second-generation pharmacy owner and doctor by profession. Through this, I gained an understanding nuances in healthcare, especially in the pharmaceutical space. It was apparent that patients needed a more seamless process to manage prescriptions. I’m honored to be part of making this happen,” Patel said.

Medly is one of the first full-service retail pharmacies to adopt an on-demand eCommerce model for prescription medicine fulfillment, putting it in a unique position to solve service gaps. From payer to manufacturer to physician to patient, the organization matches opportunities to produce value for each stakeholder. Without a doubt, as more health systems shift to value-based care models, the value proposition of outcome-driven pharmacies like Medly will only grow.

a Medly Pharmacy store in New York
Courtesy: Medly Pharmacy

6 Success Lessons to Take away

In 2017, the co-founders created Medly as the second generation managing a chain of family-owned pharmacies. The investors really believe that the company’s disciplined approach to growth will continue to hold as the company expands nationally. Further, Patel’s ability to break into new markets is also due to his in-depth knowledge of the pharmacy sector, which has resulted in a bottom-up service culture.

During the COVID-19 stay-at-home mandates, more than 96 percent of people who attempted pharmaceutical delivery for the first time during quarantine stated they would likely continue afterward, according to the Volition Capital Consumer Sentiment Study. As we can see, Medly is a well-run and experienced firm in a burgeoning market that is addressing critical concerns that have never been more relevant.

To understand why this unique startup gets its proven success, let’s jump right in some of the most important things that the entrepreneur learned and the challenges faced during his journey.

#1. Listen and Tap into Pressing Issues

“The most important strategy that we have used to build Medly was listening to our customers and implementing the biggest pain points they have regarding managing their medications and improving their health in the process,” said Patel. “Having run pharmacies for many years, we’ve seen the shift in customers tastes and preferences and built a pharmacy that solves the major challenges that customers face and makes managing medications easier and more accessible than ever.”

#2. Remember that Customers Matter the Most

As Patel discovered, customers desired a mobile app that allowed them to tailor practically every aspect of their experience, including delivery schedules, refill dates, and even packaging alternatives. Customizing the experience to the customer’s needs is frequently more crucial than the business’s overall concept.

“The biggest challenge in building a business like Medly was marrying multiple facets of the business, from logistics, the pharmacy experience, and more. The way that we have overcome these challenges is by putting the customer first and allowing their needs to prioritize the formation of the overarching business model,” he explained.

The company has always been hyper-focused on delivering a phenomenal experience for its patients, which has led to that being the biggest driver of new patient growth, rather than flashy marketing. A large part of what Patel view as success is providing excellent customer service. “I am pleased that our customer satisfaction score is 4.5 times greater than that of the average pharmacy. I believe this is because we offer a very personal, humanized experience while also being convenient and seamless,” he said.

#3. Concentrate More on the Execution

In Patel’s opinion, execution is everything. In the case of Medly, proper execution was vital in expanding the pharmacy and services and will continue to be a core part of the company’s future plans to grow to more major markets. To him, it’s also important to create a defined process that allows you to scale your work as these processes allow you to push out more work and get more tasks done without feeling overwhelmed.

“For most entrepreneurs, ideas are a dime in a dozen, which is why execution matters most. Success and building market share for us truly comes down to being at the forefront of what our customers are telling us, and delighting them on a daily basis, at scale. As long as we are building an experience that solves their main pain points, we are moving in the right direction,” said Patel.

Medly Pharmacy staff prepares orders for customers
Courtesy: Medly Pharmacy

#4. Have the Right Team in Place

“It is critical to have the right team, and once you have them, listen to their ideas. Through Medly, I realized that everyone on the team needs to be a part of the decision process and that we all need to be working towards the same goal. It sounds very simple but is especially vital when creating a startup from the ground up. You have to have team members with diverse thought processes who bring different perspectives and fresh ideas to the team. It will make your company stronger,” Patel said.

According to Patel, there would be a myriad of challenges an entrepreneur faces when starting something from the ground up. You have to think of everything, even choosing the right name and location. However, he learned the most important part of creating a company is having the right team. Patel claims that his team is easy to reach and that they can be contacted by mobile app, email, phone call, internet, or even texting, which is unusual in the service industry.

“For Medly, it was essential that our team would share the same passion as us, while having a relevant background in healthcare. We are fortunate to say we have achieved this with our current team,” he added.

At Medly, employees are its heart and soul. They carry out the mission of the company and embody the brand values. Without employees, there’s no one to handle everything from packing and delivering medications, communicating with insurance to ensure medication is covered, and speaking to doctor’s office to make sure patients are getting the right prescription.

Medly is committed to training and developing talents in all departments so they may learn more about the pharmacy and healthcare industry. For now, its engineering and product teams have continued to bring valuable ideas around how to integrate technology into the pharmacy experience. While its marketing team continues to come up with creative ideas on how to expand and compelling insights that help the company understands the patients’ needs.

“I am grateful for my team. They have all provided different ideas and fresh perspectives that have allowed me to grow. Many times, our great ideas are the result of an entire group, so I am thankful to have such a strong team behind me,” said Patel.

#5. Create a Healthy Working Space

It’s a good idea to create a positive environment as much as possible at work. Medly started as a family business, so it was important to continue to foster this mindset, even as the company continues to develop. As Patel suggested, “Make it a point to communicate to your team members that you are looking for their help in building a positive environment. Startups specifically require team members to be nimble, so having a healthy attitude and environment helps everyone be more flexible and understanding.”

#6. Strengthen Mental Intelligence

Patel believes that making everyone happy all of the time is impossible. Playing the role of a leader, you will occasionally be forced to make decisions that will not be agreed upon by everyone. For that reason, you should be prepared to make unpleasant decisions if it is in the best interests of your company.

“It is important to be agile on all fronts. You have to tap into your EQ as much as your IQ. Emotional agility is required to be able to be sympathetic to different topics, and often you will have to quickly and smoothly switch from one to another. Mental flexibility is also important to manage all of your tasks and cope with the weight of your responsibilities. This may be easy to assume, but hard work is time-consuming! You have to be willing to put in the time to get results, so be prepared for long hours,” Patel said.

Medly Pharmacy staff at a COVID vaccine site
Courtesy: Medly Pharmacy

Looking for Future Movements

“The pharmacy and healthcare industries can be very confusing for patients, and I want to try and fix this. To me, Medly is a movement, and I am honored to be part of it. We are changing the way prescriptions get to patients and fostering the adoption of technology in the pharmacy business. This is ultimately creating a more patient-focused pharmacy on all fronts,” Patel shared.

In the future, he would like to continue to increase transparency within this industry. In many ways, the general consumer and even pharmacists are still currently unaware of how the money for prescriptions is distributed. According to him, he would love work to tap into drug transparency. Once he has a few ideas on how this could happen, he believes Medly needs more of a foothold nationally around this, before it can begin to work on this front.

“For Medly, one goal is to expand the platform nationally. I want to see Medly increase accessibility in new markets, to deliver a more humanized and simplified pharmacy experience. Personally, I want to equip myself to aid in this expansion and help make Medly as strong as possible to help as many patients as we can,” he said.

The Bottom Lines

Through Patel’s perspective, the success of his company is largely due to the diverse thinking and passion the whole team brings to the shared mission. The company views success as a constant process, which means helping more patients manage their medications at scale. Along the journey, those lessons above have been learned and applied effectively in the case of Medly, and we believe they would work in your business as well.

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