A longtime tech entrepreneur switches gears to health care, with a unique startup. A potential $7 million in sales in 2016 is in the offing.
Why 2016 is important: Company seeks at least $3 million in capital to expand network of patients and doctors.
Dan Miller, with a long career in tech startups, including several successful mobile marketing firms, is devoted to personal fitness, from riding his bike to work to grueling CrossFit classes.
Despite analyzing, advising and investing in companies for 30 years, Miller rarely came across a health care business he believed had the right components to become a blockbuster success. That changed after Miller met pharmaceutical sales executive Jake Michel, behind a St. Petersburg startup called BluePrint Health.
Michel and his partners founded BluePrint Health from what they believed was a significant gap in health care: A company that could bring sophisticated technology, processes and logistics to hormone replacement therapy — a segment of health and wellness often misunderstood and occasionally tarnished by some shady players. “There is a stigma around hormone therapy,” says Miller.
But Miller, whom BluePrint initially hired to analyze the business plan and market, was wowed by the what-could-be. Hormone replacement therapy is a $4 billion to $8 billion industry, but few, if any companies, work with both doctors and patients on the process.
BluePrint Health does that through a team of nurses outside the physician's office, who work with the patients from diagnosis to hormone injections. The company started treating patients in August. Officials project BluePrint will turn a profit next year and, if it reaches its target capital-raise goal, the company could surpass $7 million in sales in 2016.
“We are not creating a new market, but we are approaching it from a more efficient way,” Miller says. “This is such a unique model. There isn't a direct competitor who does what we do.”
Miller liked BluePrint so much, he became an investor and was later named CEO. Miller's past ventures range from business incubator Startup Florida to Movo Mobile, a cell phone marketing firm. He relished the chance to lead BluePrint. “The idea that I could become involved in a business that could dramatically improve someone's life,” says Miller, “was very inspiring to me.”
Hormone replacement therapy treats imbalances in the body caused by a lack of hormones. Symptoms from a lack of hormones include mood swings, weight gain and depression.
BluePrint offers affiliate agreements for physicians, who can sign up and utilize the service without any fees after being trained on the process. An affiliated physician then prescribes BluePrint for a patient, man or woman, in need of hormone replacement therapy.
A patient, meanwhile, can work through his or her doctor or go to BluePrint directly. The process after that follows normal medical procedures: A patient gets a blood workup. Then BluePrint clinicians look at everything from cholesterol levels to liver and kidney health to the thyroid function.
BluePrint, in consultation with a physician, next puts the patient on a 12-week hormone replacement therapy cycle. BluePrint virtual nurses work regularly with patients, on follow-up calls and to monitor progress.
BluePrint earns a fee from charging patients. Payments are cash only, though Miller says the firm is working on possibly adding an insurance program this year. Costs vary, but medical oversight for the specialized lab work is $350 to $400 and medications can range from $150 to $500 a month.
BluePrint's competitive advantage, Miller says, is technology, including a comprehensive database, which simplifies hormone replacement therapy — both for patient and physician. “We built a very scalable, very robust back-end platform,” Miller says.
Miller and the founders invested about $200,000 to get the business going over the past year. That money, for technology and marketing, led to a fast start in signing up physicians nationwide. Doctors with BluePrint affiliate agreements are in at least seven states, from New York to Oklahoma. Several doctors in the Sarasota and Tampa markets have also signed on with BluePrint.
The looming business challenge at BluePrint is to raise capital so it could graduate from shoestring days, and also invest more in marketing. It seeks at least $3 million, and is working with both angel and startup investors and other potential backers.
Miller, while working with investors, remains motivated by the company's mission. Says Miller: “We are really helping people feel better and live more fully.”
Follow Mark Gordon on Twitter @markigordon