SA startup launches online wellness platform for men

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South African startup Apexman has launched an online wellness platform for men that aims to remove the burden of having to go to a doctor’s waiting room or queue at a pharmacy.

Founded last year and soft-launched in January, Apexman allows men to be diagnosed and treated, all on their schedule from the comfort and privacy of their homes. It then works with a handful of pharmacies to deliver scripted medication to clients. 

The startup is currently focusing on two of the most common men’s health problems: erectile dysfunction (ED) and hair loss. 

“70 per cent of men who experience erectile dysfunction don’t get treatment, and two out of three men will experience some form of male pattern baldness by the time they’re 35. We’re challenging the stigma around these issues, which men often keep to themselves, and empowering them to seek help digitally,” said Alex Gabriels, who founded Apexman alongside Ryan Thomas and Ainsley Stewart. 

“Ryan has over 10 years experience in pharmaceutical sales having sold both ED and hair loss treatments for large pharmaceutical companies. Having seen how cumbersome the process is for getting treated Ryan, Ainsley and myself got together to build a new healthcare company. One that we would use and one that arms men with the knowledge and tools they need to proactively solve their well-being and look after their health.”

Apexman believes the ED patient experience is broken. 

“It can take days to get a doctor’s appointment, you have to travel there and have awkward conversations with receptionists and doctors, and then deal with a pharmacy once prescribed medication,” said Gabriels. 

“The stigma behind erectile dysfunction keeps many men from seeking any treatment, or drives them to seek treatment outside of the healthcare system, to sketchy unregulated online pharmacies or stores, where pills are often adulterated with floor wax, paint and printer ink.”

There are issues that need addressing when it comes to hair loss, too.

“There’s no cure for baldness, but one can prevent hair loss from happening in the first place,” Gabriels said. “Many guys don’t know that there’s an effective and affordable solution out there. Our online wellness platform aims to address this by making it easier and more affordable for men to take action and keep their hair.”

The bootstrapped startup has partnered with Netcare Plus, which has brought over 1,000 doctors on board to treat its target customers. Apexman is working with Netcare to iron out a few kinks in the process, and has also partnered with a handful of pharmacies, which allows it to deliver medication to most parts of Gauteng. 

“In terms of paying customers, we have just under 50 guys we’re treating. We’re being intentional about how many guys we’re working with, as there are a multitude of things to consider when rolling out a telemed solution that addresses these two disease entities,” said Gabriels.

“We’re currently in Gauteng only but will roll out to other parts of the country in the coming months. The important thing for us is to deliver a seamless experience for our clients, and we want to build a sticky experience before expanding.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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