Amid the ever-present noise in the consumer healthcare product market to buy this or buy that, CareNexis’s founders envisioned that there could be a better way for consumers to decide which products were right for them.
Coming from the consumer healthcare product manufacturing world himself, CareNexis’s CEO Daniel West knew that so many consumers were confused on which products actually fit their needs. To solve this problem, he and Co-Founder Alex Frates created CareNexis in 2018.
Now CareNexis will be one of the 80-plus startups presenting tomorrow (April 7) at this year’s Venture Connect conference in RTP.
The Cary-based startup provides a digital health platform powering personalized education, healthy living content and health recommendations to consumers. Essentially, it connects products to patients with specific health problems or interests, enabling a more personalized healthcare retail experience.
At the time of CareNexis’s founding, West said they saw an opportunity to build technology that didn’t exist yet. But that was never the overarching goal. At its core, the CareNexis team wanted to create a hyper-personalized experience for healthcare consumers—from the way they shop for healthcare products online, where they shop, and everything that impacts their purchasing decisions.
“This is a very personal process.” West said. “And that process is difficult—if the way that consumers shop for products is not the way that marketers are actually selling their products.”
At the same time, being able to incorporate the symptoms and health conditions relevant for a product is incredibly helpful for brands to create a personalized experience and tailor their offerings to consumers, West said.
So far, CareNexis has offered free access to its platform for early users and is working to bring on board more consumer healthcare product brands and retailers looking to improve their ecommerce experiences. Ten brands have already joined CareNexis’s lead user program, offering to share their experiences so that CareNexis can compile case studies and improve the platform.
The startup gained funding momentum as well, raising a seed round with Cary-based Cofounders Capital that Crunchbase pegged at $460K. West is appreciative of Cofounders Capital as a partner, which made it easier to develop their product and get it to market without a lot of undue pressure.
Now with revenue and an efficient operation, West said the focus has been on getting their product and business model right. They are at the point where they anticipate scaling up rapidly this year.
Still, the CareNexis founding team had to adapt along the way. Originally believing their best bet was to sell the platform directly to healthcare providers, West said they realized this is a slow-moving market. The better opportunity actually laid with the healthcare product brands themselves. These were the organizations looking to directly interact with healthcare consumers once they’ve been diagnosed with a condition.
“We felt out of the gate that the best way to reach those healthcare consumers was through the healthcare provider,” West said. “But we have found that the best way to reach that consumer is actually in the places that they shop for everyday health care. The retail experience is a significant part of our healthcare journey as humans, as consumers.”
More recently, the healthcare industry and its product market counterpart were one of many sectors rocked by the coronavirus pandemic. As a business, CareNexis asked itself the questions everyone else was wondering at the time.
“Much like everybody else, there was fear and uncertainty and doubt,” West said. “‘What’s going to happen? Is our customer going to be there in a year? Or is the business that we anticipated going to be the same?’”
At the end of the day, Covid actually pushed CareNexis forward because consumers were more inspired to take control of their health.
“That incredible growth of the digital health environment is validating and propelling the need for our platform,” West said.
CareNexis has also expanded its services beyond its key platform.
“We’ve discovered that there are several things we do that are pretty easy that are extremely appealing,” West said.
One of these includes the creation of product videos, directly from product data. These videos have quickly become a popular feature for brands, who value that CareNexis can generate high-quality product videos automatically.
Moving forward, CareNexis aims to build its base of customers and work to understand what other features can drive high value.
While on this trajectory of growth, West acknowledges that originally the CareNexis team was a bit naive to how complex the platform needed to be to address its intended market. But they rose to the challenge and now look forward to presenting their company story onstage at Venture Connect.
“Oftentimes in business, in life, there’s developments that you don’t anticipate, and success can depend on your ability to address those and be flexible and change aspects of your product or your business to address a changing market,” West said. “We’ve been able to do that successfully.”