Munich Startup: Who are you and what do you do? Please introduce yourselves!
Wellster Healthtech Group: We are Dr. Manuel Nothelfer and Nico Hribernik and we founded the Wellster Healthtech Group in November, 2018. Manuel is 42 years old and after completing his PhD in economics at Witten/Herdecke University, he gained strategic experience specifically in the insurance and health sector after working as a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group for several years. Later as a co-founder of betreut.de (merger with Care.com), he led his company to its IPO on Wall Street. Nico is 38 years old, studied international business administration at the Vienna University of Economics and Business and went on to manage some billion-dollar B2C brands in various markets as a brand manager at Procter & Gamble. After initial entrepreneurial success in Asia, he was most recently head of brand at Flixmobility. In 2018, we just happened to meet during an event hosted by HV Capital. We recognized two things together: digital healthcare is going to change everything in the future – but there’s a significant gap in existing healthcare. That was how the idea behind Wellster was born.
Munich Startup: What problem does your startup solve?
Wellster Healthtech Group: A lot of people with everyday health issues don’t go to the doctor. Just one of the many reasons is not being aware of the fact that their symptoms are indicating a medical problem. The motivation to take action is also hampered by complicated procedures: A general practitioner issues a referral to a specialist, and then you have to wait a long time for an appointment with them. Then the patient has to have their prescription filled at a pharmacy. If the symptoms are accompanied by psychological stress, there’s even less drive to overcome these obstacles.
Wellster runs fully integrated online platforms that make a doctor’s visit possible from home. The diagnosis is made by a doctor through remote diagnosis and the prescription is transmitted to a mail-order or local pharmacy based on what the patient prefers. The success of treatment is recorded digitally by our doctors and continuously optimized. This allows us to overcome the major barriers of the conventional healthcare system.
“Wellster caters to people who are aware of their problem, but still dread going to the doctor”
Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!
Wellster Healthtech Group: There are already many telemedicine companies on the market. The problem is that they cater mainly to people who would have gone to the doctor anyway. They’re trying to replace the existing system instead of improving it – it’s just taking what’s offline and putting it online. Wellster caters above all to people who are aware of their problem, but still dread going to the doctor – even though there are diagnoses and relevant treatment options for their issues. That’s why we are raising awareness about our fully digital treatment offers most particularly through classic marketing channels like TV or outdoor advertising that leads directly to our fully integrated solution platforms.
Munich Startup: What have been your three biggest challenges so far?
Wellster Healthtech Group: The medical and pharmaceutical market environment is just at the beginning of digital transformation compared to other areas of everyday life. That’s why there are still many areas of conflict between conservative and progressive players that affect us in regulatory and legal terms. Something we are very pleased about is that we were able to perform globally groundbreaking work with our medical studies with the LMU Munich and the University of Freiburg. We were also able to win over leading doctors and pharmacists in Germany with the major advantages of our services for the healthcare situation and for healthcare research. We are now working with most players hand in hand in order to establish new standards in telemedicine.
Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, and where in five years?
Wellster Healthtech Group: With Wellster, we would like to build and establish the biggest and most considerate healthcare company in Europe. In concrete terms, that means we’ll be the first point of contact for patients for all healthcare from home. Initially, until the middle/end of next year, we will focus on the German region, where we would like to expand the product offer for existing and new target groups. We are paying special attention to mental health and networking with local medical offers. Over the long term, we’re striving to expand to five European countries.
“Already more than one million people” on Wellster Healthtech Group platforms
Munich Startup: What do you think about Munich as a startup location?
Wellster Healthtech Group: We’re extremely happy here. As one of the five founder hotspots in Germany, we think Munich offers everything that successful startups and their teams need. We love the city for its dynamic energy and quality of living. Internationally renowned medical institutions like the Technical University or the LMU Munich ensure that the professional experts we need, from Germany and around the world, make the city their home. That’s something startups in the digital healthcare sector obviously benefit from as well.
Munich Startup: Quick exit or staying power?
Wellster Healthtech Group: Since going live in May 2019, more than one million people have already used the telemedicine consultation services on the Wellster platforms. Our studies showed us that more than three-quarters of these people had never gone to a doctor before with their problems. That alone demonstrates what an impact we can make. We would like to take on responsibility over the long term. Which is why we have promising projects in the pipeline that will allow us to make a lasting impact on people’s wellbeing.