Thirty Madison is a winner of FierceHealthcare's Fierce 15 awards. See our other honorees here.
Sometimes being on the receiving end of healthcare is enough to make someone want to change it.
That was the experience for Steven Gutentag, CEO and co-founder of Thirty Madison, which launched in 2018 as a "human-first" healthcare company.
"I went through this journey—like many people do—online," Gutentag told FierceHealthcare. "I had access to great physicians and great facilities and, through my employer at the time, had great insurance coverage. Even with all that, it still wasn’t a wonderful experience."
Determined to change the experience, Gutentag teamed up with co-founder Demetri Karagas to build a new web-based platform for serving patients with chronic conditions. They raised more than $22 million and launched their first product, Keeps, a brand focused on helping men with male pattern baldness, in 2018.
They started with baldness because it was a condition that had a finite number of potential diagnoses and treatments and would be a more straightforward condition to tackle using telemedicine over their platform. It was also a condition for which individuals might not have known that treatments were available or within their financial reach, Gutentag said.
"When we started Thirty Madison, it was on that belief. We could expand access to really high quality specialized care, affordable treatments and we could use technology to reach patients directly—but also create an experience that was enjoyable," Gutentag said. "When you look at any one of our businesses that we’ve launched, we really try to make it a high-quality health experience and a really enjoyable consumer experience."
After establishing the platform and proving the concept, they went on in 2019 to launch Cove, a product focused on helping migraine sufferers, and finally, Evens, which is focused on acid reflux. The platform is currently self-pay, meaning patients pay for the service and treatments directly, at a cost of $10 to $35 a month and $40 to $45 a month, respectively. They've served more than 100,000 patients across the country within their first two years of business, Gutentag said. They started out 2019 with about 15 employees but have grown to more than 50 employees in less than a year.
What's the connective tissue behind the success of these brands?
"The focus is really about specialized care," he said. "They are both chronic health issues that impact tens of millions of people in the United States where access to really great specialists can be hard to come by, where there are a variety of different potential treatments for people who can see benefit from these but often either don’t have access to the specialists, aren’t in a position to afford the treatments or are just frustrated with what they’ve tried so far."
Fierce insights from Thirty Madison CEO Steven Gutentag
What is your best piece of advice for launching a healthcare company that challenges the status quo?
Embrace change as you learn what your customers actually need. There will be times that you’ll need to pivot strategy as you learn more about your customers—after all, there’s no guidebook when you’re in uncharted territory—so don’t be so married to your original strategy that you’re unable to see what’ll actually help your customers get the outcomes they desire.
What is the failure you’ve learned the best lesson from?
Admit to yourself when there isn’t a product-market fit so that you can move on.
My current co-founder, Demetri Karagas, and I launched a content recommendation engine before launching Thirty Madison. It was floundering in every way that it could. The team was wrong, the product was built for desktop when everyone was on mobile, adoption was nil. I was spending too much time and energy trying to fit a very big square peg in a very small round hole. Finally, one day, one of our advisers pointed this out. This product was never going to work. With that very brutal wake-up call, we made the tough decision to shut down the company. But we took that lesson into our second company, Get Maid.
It’s important to have the humility needed to make the hard business decisions. What may hurt (a lot) in the short term will only benefit you in the long term.
What is one change you predict in healthcare that people wouldn’t expect?
Telemedicine has the ability to provide end-to-end solutions that combine diagnosis, treatment, education and ongoing condition management to help customers better manage their chronic health conditions. As we see the industry evolve, emerging D2C healthcare companies that incorporate telemedicine into their model will be at the forefront of innovation. The companies will have a rigorous foundation in science, building trust and credibility among their customers and proving that getting the quality healthcare you need doesn’t have to be uncomfortable and inconvenient.