Fullscript CEO Kyle Braatz will never be accused of lacking ambition – a drive that is reflected in his vision for his company.
“We want to change the way health care is delivered,” says the co-founder of the online system for prescribing and delivering natural health products such as vitamin supplements.
Mr. Braatz, who is just 31 but has already launched a number of startups and received an OBJ Forty Under 40 award, knows a goal that lofty will take time to achieve. But so far so good for Fullscript, which continued its remarkable ascent this year by grabbing top spot on OBJ’s list of Fastest Growing Companies.
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“This is one of the only industries that hasn’t been disrupted by what’s best for the consumer,” Mr. Braatz says from his office on York Street in the ByWard Market, where the Fullscript team moved last fall. “To think that we’re going to change that overnight, when all the training and all the education is done a certain way, is kind of ludicrous. But the market is moving towards that direction.”
Fullscript has gone through a number of transitions since it was founded five years ago, changing names twice while morphing from a Shopify-like online storefront into a more elaborate system that helps naturopaths, chiropractors and other health-care professionals track inventory and prescriptions.
Mr. Braatz started the company, originally called MD Storefront, with longtime business partners Brad Dyment and Chris Wise in 2011.
At first it simply served as an online dispensary. But the founders soon realized their main customers – mostly U.S.-based naturopathic practitioners who are allowed to prescribe supplements – needed a better way to ensure patients were actually using the products.
Gradually, they added tools that monitor patients’ usage of supplements and automatically send out refill reminders. Recently, the firm introduced point-of-sale technology that allows doctors to order products and have them delivered right to their patients’ doors. The company rebranded from HealthWave to Fullscript in part to reflect this more holistic approach to product delivery and patient care.
Mr. Braatz calls the point-of-sale and inventory management systems “a big game-changer for us from a growth perspective” because they free up time for doctors to focus on their most important job – helping patients.
“If we can alleviate all of that stress that comes with managing dispensing of supplements, we can help practitioners be more successful, we can help patients be more successful,” he says. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”
The current “pill-oriented” health-care system concentrates too much on treating illness rather than preventing it, he believes. Mr. Braatz sees a day in the not-too-distant future when Fullscript’s platform is integrated into conventional health networks, allowing any health-care professional to enter a drug’s name into a database that determines if it will cause any nutrient deficiencies or harmful interactions with other pharmaceuticals that a natural supplement might be able to alleviate.
Product or Service
Software-as-a-service platform for prescribing natural health products and tracking inventory
Three-year Revenue Growth
1,245 per cent
“If we can help speed things up for the practitioner to get all the information they need, then it sets us up really well to move into the more conventional space,” he says.
Most of the company’s current clients are south of the border, and Mr. Braatz recently spent a year in Santa Monica raising capital and building contacts in the lucrative U.S. market. He also thinks there is plenty of growth potential in his own country.
“We will be investing a lot more in the Canadian market because it’s a big opportunity,” he says.
In the past year, the firm has more than doubled its headcount and moved to an expanded office space. Angels have provided all the company’s funding so far, but Mr. Braatz says the founders will do whatever it takes to continue to build an “impactful” business, whether that’s pursuing venture capital or eventually going public.
One thing is certain, he adds – Fullscript will remain firmly rooted in its hometown.
“I think Ottawa is the perfect place to build a great company,” he says. “The talent is amazing, with the universities and the school system that we have here. The entrepreneurial community is great here. I think some of the companies that are successful now are breeding more people wanting to get involved in companies like ours.”