Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi everyone! My name is Alastair Kennett and I’m one of the two founders of OptiMale. My brother David and I founded OptiMale just over 2 years ago. OptiMale is a testosterone replacement and men’s health clinic which provides effective treatment to men across the UK who suffer from low testosterone and fertility issues.
Both of us suffered from low testosterone in our late 20s to early 30s and we wanted to provide a convenient, effective and safe service to men like us. We found that treatment in this area was poorly provided and understood, both in the NHS public health service and by private doctors in the UK, with few clinics offering medication to maintain fertility and in the most modern applications.
We identified a gap in the market and aimed to provide a better service and treatment than anyone else by providing convenient consultations with pioneering doctors, medication delivered to patient’s homes through their letterbox, and support which was quick and easily available.
Our main target market is men with low testosterone between the ages of 25-80. We find that this issue affects adult men from all backgrounds and at all ages.
We have seen a growth of over 850% since our first year with both a massive increase in our number of monthly subscriptions and blood test sales.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
When I was around 27 years old I started to notice that I was tired all day, I lacked motivation, my libido was dropping and I was moody and grumpy for no reason. This was very unlike me. After speaking to my brother we realised that he had been suffering from the same issues. He’d been to see life-coaches, psychologists and tried various health and lifestyle changes with no effect.
I had some blood tests done and realised I was suffering from low testosterone. Shortly afterward both my brother and I were on treatment and realised how life-changing testosterone replacement could be in all aspects of our lives. We saw that this area was poorly provisioned and services were really lacking compared to the US, where it is a more widely recognised treatment.
This inspired us to start up OptiMale, and what followed was one of the most frustrating, interesting, tough, and yet ultimately rewarding experiences. It was made all the more satisfying that we managed to succeed together as brothers and has really strengthened our relationship. It is a great feeling to be helping many men to realise their worth and potential, changing their lives and creating a successful business all at the same time!
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
We started by researching similar or comparable services and found that most healthcare services often contained hidden costs and were difficult for patients to understand. We decided to provide a monthly subscription-based service which would make it easier for patients to understand the ongoing cost of treatment, and would make it easier for us to plan our own internal costs.
The monthly subscription model we decided to implement is working out well, and it enables us to provide a high quality, cost-effective, predictable and valuable service to our patients.
Because healthcare is a highly regulated industry, we have had to invest a lot in implementing well-structured systems and processes, meeting regulatory requirements, insurance coverage, and other legal obligations that we have with regards to patient care, medications and doctors - it has been a steep learning curve!
Describe the process of launching the business.
We started off producing a basic website and writing lots of content. This was a very slow process as we gradually gained traction and visitors. With pretty much everything we’ve done, it has been about testing what works and what doesn’t. You will read this time and time again because it’s true - the key thing to do is to start! So many people are paralyzed by analyzing details that they never start. Lots of things we tried didn’t work, some did, so we continued with what did and changed what didn’t.
We 100% self-financed our business. This was helped by the fact that neither of us gave up our day jobs until we really had to and by the use of automation wherever feasible. We also had a product (blood tests), alongside our monthly service subscription model which financed the business from the start and meant that we haven’t really needed any investment (apart from £1,000 that we each put in at the beginning to fund initial expenses). Our cash flow is good as we didn’t initially need to hold stock and have relatively low fixed overheads, so this was really helpful in the early stages of the business growth.
As a complete business newbie, the main things I learnt from this process were that you have to take risks and put in the hard work if you want something worth having (most people have no concept of what real hard work is, working a normal day job and then working on the business evenings and weekends until the business can pay you a wage), you have to love what you are doing, and you will need to be prepared to keep pushing when you encounter setbacks or things fail. Every setback or failure has lead to new opportunities for us, regardless of how serious they seemed at the time - and there were many setbacks that could have meant the end of our company if we hadn’t persevered and believed in what we were doing.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
For us SEO and content creation was king. We rose to the top of Google quite quickly through lots of targeted, quality content production. I personally churned out 10s of articles targeting specific, well-researched keywords. These articles were meant to be informative, quality content that would engage the reader.
We are starting to focus more on partnerships with key people in this area to improve our exposure. We have also had some high-level press coverage including an article in The Sun, the largest UK newspaper.
We’ve found ads to be a waste of money so far. People often ignore google ads and go to the top organically ranked website. We may do more paid advertising in the future but currently consolidating our current marketing channels is more important.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
OptiMale is profitable, with a growing patient list and improving services daily. We have aimed to expand into the female market of HRT as well as weight loss medication, life extension and personal training. Our growth has been rapid and we expect it to continue and for the company to double in size every year for the next few years. This could even accelerate further as the issue of low testosterone becomes more and more widely discussed and publicised in the UK.
We have a number of doctors working for us, and we have developed partnerships with blood testing labs, pharmacies, clinics and distributors who all work with us to provide a seamless service to our patients.
Our costs have risen due to increases in staffing, and the adoption of more expensive medication. Increases in follow-ups and support have also meant reduced profit margins. Our patient’s health, their experience and the service they receive is our priority, as at the end of the day customer (patient) satisfaction is key and also allows us to maintain a good reputation.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Think carefully before starting a healthcare company! There is a serious amount of red tape, regulations, and a lot of barriers put up against starting a private medical company, particularly in the UK. We have had set-back after set-back in so many areas that it is difficult to remember all of them. From payment gateways deciding they don’t want to support us anymore to competitors targeting us with fake review campaigns, we’ve had every imaginable barrier to success. Each one has felt like the end of the road at the time, but we’ve kept on pushing through and are now starting to see the benefits!
We were lucky to start this business when TRT has started to become a big thing in the UK. We also started around the time that remote healthcare was in vogue and remote blood testing became more readily available.
It helps to have (or learn) excellent SEO skills combined with content production and technical expertise to be successful in this area.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
There are a few blogs and books that have had a considerable effect on how I have viewed and approached business, as well as provided some invaluable insights and advice.
- How to make money - Felix Dennis - 88 succinct and at times hilarious insights into how to run a business (the title is tongue-in-cheek).
- Wallstreetplayboys.com - a blog with some fascinating posts on everything from how to become an investment banker to how to sell real estate - lots of good advice for internet based companies also!
- The 4 hour work week - Tim Ferriss - as well as being a book for helping one to understand and articulate their life goals, and break free from 9-5 work, it also provides some excellent resources on running a business smoothly, automating and how to streamline your business processes.
- How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big - Scott Adams - an interesting book which describes how Scott Adams failed his way to success - by trying lots of different things until he found his niche, which finally made him a successful business in the Dilbert comic strips. I like it because it emphasises that you have to keep trying new things - and it dispels the myth of becoming an overnight success. You just have to keep working at things, figuring out what you are good at, and then capitalising on your strengths to build something successful. It also talks about talent stacking - learning lots of different skills that when stacked together, turn you into a much more rounded individual. I think this is so important nowadays, especially when you start out and can't just pay people to do things like SEO, marketing, sales or website building for you.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Don’t spend too long trying to get everything perfect before starting. Test ideas, get something out there and then change and adapt with what you find out. Preparation is key, but it can also be a form of procrastination.
Persevere and you will obtain your goals - your goals may end up changing as you go along but that’s not always a bad thing.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are always looking for new patient liaison staff, particularly those interested in healthcare and men’s health in general.
In the future, we may also outsource digital advertising campaigns through Google ads, Facebook ads and Instagram ads.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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