There was a two-week span in early 2015 when Cary Breese spent nearly every night in line at the same CVS pharmacy.
“I’d grab a bunch of items and put them in my hands and stand in line, and then I’d talk to a few people and put them all away again,” Breese said.
The store’s pharmacist, if suspicious, was likely so for the wrong reason. Breese simply desired to quiz line-languishers about a business idea: an on-demand pharmacy experience. Just a few months later, Breese and colleague Sumeet Sheokand harnessed those customers’ enthusiasm to create NowRx, a Mountain View-based start-up offering same-day prescription delivery for free and one-hour prescription delivery for $5.
“If you think back to any consumer experience today – as a person, a consumer, an individual – there’s no place in society that you go and wait in line for 45 minutes to get what you need,” said Sheokand, the company’s chief technology officer. “The only thing I can think of, the only one I can ever come up with, is the DMV. That’s how bad the experience is.”
Since fulfilling their first prescription orders early this year, Breese and Sheokand say they have attracted several hundred customers in a distribution network spanning from Redwood City to West San Jose. NowRx boasts regulatory approval from the California Board of Pharmacy and the Drug Enforcement Administration and preferred provider status with most major insurance plans, including Cigna, Anthem/BlueCross, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare and Medicare Part D.
“Customers who come to us will get their same, regular co-pay that they would get at any other pharmacy,” said Breese, chief executive officer.
So what’s the secret ingredient that makes NowRx delivery both free and quick?
Space, the men said.
A typical retail pharmacy like CVS, Walgreens or Rite Aid operates in a prime real estate location within a store paying prime monthly rent – as much as $60,000 a month for 15,000 square feet, Breese estimates. NowRx, by comparison, pays approximately $4,000 a month for 2,000 square feet on Old Middlefield Way. The space includes a modest conference room and a warehouse with shelves of medication and workstations for Melissa Bostock, the company’s pharmacist, and delivery driver Ricky Massie.
It’s Bostock’s face customers see when they video chat NowRx through the company website or app to discuss their medications.
“It should feel to the customer like Uber: A few taps on your phone and the prescription is at your door in an hour,” Breese said. “That’s the vision for the company.”
Initially, NowRx’s target market centered on the retail pharmacy customer filling a new prescription for short-term medication. That demographic includes seniors, those with mobility issues, surgery patients and parents concerned about exposing young children to the germs at a crowded pharmacy. But the company also delivers prescriptions for long-term, maintenance medications and over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
“The long-term goal is to be absolutely mainstream: 20 years old up to 80 years old, anyone that doesn’t want to spend time in a line at the pharmacy, which we think should be the whole world,” Breese said.
For more information, visit nowrx.com.