Allay Startup Concept Validation

Over the summer of 2020 I worked with one other person to validate the concept of starting a company to bring the Allay product to market. Ultimately we determined in September, 2020 that we did not have enough expertise in the consumer healthcare market to be confident in our go-to-market strategy, and closed the project down.

See the product design process here.

  • Startup Validation
  • Market Analysis
  • Consumer Healthcare
  • Business Case
  • Validation Challenge
  • There are already many medication adherence products marketed towards the elderly, and yet very few of them are actually used. The user population still has poignant unmet needs. This project was an attempt to determine why others had failed and whether we had the tools and insight necessary to succeed.
  • Project Scope
  • Based on our own user research, we believed that our product was differentiated in some important ways. However, early on it became clear that by far the most risk in the project was on the go-to-market side. Therefore the validation process became almost solely focused on solving for how we would actually acquire customers.
Apparent in the name, consumer healthcare sits at the intersection of the healthcare industry and consumer products. This leaves the question of who should pay for the product open to strategic decisions on part of the company.

Some products like Hero market directly to the consumer and are paid in full through a subscription purchased by the end user. However, many consumers are unwilling to pay for high end hardware out of pocket, expecting instead that their health insurance should bear the cost. To pursue this route, a device needs to pursue certification as at least a class 2 medical device, and must also convince insurance pools, accountable care organizations, and providers that offering the device will improve outcomes and reduce insurance claims. This high burden of proof leads to long sales cycles and slow cash flow for startups in the space. Additionally, most startups choose to hire expensive market access consultants to navigate the extremely complex needs of the stakeholders involved.

Final Pitch Deck Business Model Canvas
  • Target CustomersAccountable Care Organizations (ACOs)
  • JustificationThey are financially incentivized the best for long term patient outcomes.
  • Annual Value Streams$1000 - $7500 per year per patient
  • Founding TeamEthan Carlson & David Ludgin
Validation Process

Both medication non-adherence and telehealth are hot spaces right now, both because of the scale of the unsolved problem as well as the underlying technology trends towards greater virtualization. We evaluated the positioning of 90 different companies when determining whether our concept was differentiated.

You can see a full list of the companies we evaluated here.

One key compenent of our differentiation strategy was to leverage recent advances in the science of behavior change. In just the last few years several landmark studies have been published that indicate that additional progress in this area is likely for those who are able to build relationships with their users.

You can see our literature reading list here.

Key to the attractiveness of any startup idea is the question of whether the market is big enough to support a high growth trajectory. In the case of medication adherence and telehealth, the answer is clearly yes. Therefore our question evolved to one slightly different. We were going to need to tarket a beachhead at first for the purposes of early traction and branding. The beachhead we selected needed to be large and high margin.

Ultimately we selected the first market of men aged 65+ taking statin medication. This user population is highly non-adherent to their medication, less likely than average to go into the doctor, and likely to be vulnerable to COVID-19 and therefore would prefer a virtual visit. There are millions of people in this demographic currently on statins, and the ones who stay adherent are 54% less likely to have a heart attack.

Throughout this process we conducted over 50 interivews with various stakeholders, including insurers, doctors, accountable care organizations, adult caregivers, other startups working with the elderly, and other medication adherence startups.

As stated above, the ultimate goal of the project was to find a go-to-market strategy that we felt was compelling enough to take the leap of starting a company. We analyzed eight different marketing channels, as well as the value streams, buyer incentives, and sales cycle considerations of each.

You can see our final GTM channel comparison here.