After having a baby, each of the founders of Peppy Health realised there was a gap in the healthcare market for tech focusing on family health, specifically baby and menopause. They call this their “oh wow” moment. From that moment a app connecting users to trustworthy practitioners and information was born.
Peppy Health was the winner of Digital Health Rewired Pitchfest 2021. Co-founder Mridula Pore explains more about the app and how it could change the way the NHS works.
What does Peppy do?
Peppy is a digital healthcare solution that connects users with real-life, experienced practitioners via a secure mobile app.
We work with organisations – including businesses and private medical insurers – to give their people access to remote, specialist support during some of life’s big transitions.
What gave you the idea for Peppy?
Peppy was founded by three like-minded individuals, Mridula Pore, Evan Harris and Max Landry, who all experienced the “Oh wow” moment of bringing a baby home for the first time.
The founders saw a gap in the market and an opportunity to offer a solution for organisations looking to better support their people, and to differentiate themselves in a hyper-competitive market for talent.
Peppy was born, starting with a focus on family and reproductive health, specifically Fertility, Baby and Menopause.
How will Peppy change the way the NHS works?
Initially, we want to support NHS staff who are going through the menopause. From external data, we know that 1 in 10 menopausal women contemplate leaving the workforce because of their symptoms.
The NHS already has a huge shortage of nurses and by offering Peppy’s services, we want to help it retain its workforce.
Over time, we want to leverage the NHS’ vast network and reach to make Peppy accessible to whoever needs this care. The NHS staff can then focus their time on those who need the care the most.
What gap in the market does Peppy address?
We know that some of life’s biggest transitions don’t receive the right specialist support from traditional health services, workplace healthcare benefits or private medical insurance.
Take, for example, fertility, pregnancy, early parenthood and menopause.
Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to more demand than ever before for virtual healthcare solutions that are accessible by all. A lot of our users tell us that, before Peppy, they relied on Google and Facebook for easy-access information – definitely not reliable sources of information.
Peppy plugs these gaps, connecting users to trustworthy, highly-trained practitioners and giving them access to specialist fertility, perinatal and menopause support at the touch of a button, via a secure mobile app.
How have you got to where you are now?
The Peppy we know and love today has come a long way from where it all started, back in 2018.
Things started moving quickly when, at the start of the first national lockdown, we were awarded government funding to support 1,000 new and expectant parents across the UK with Peppy Baby – our perinatal support service.
As part of the TechForce19 study, we received more than 10,000 applications in 48 hours, and the results were staggering. For example, the number of participants with a mental wellbeing score indicating anxiety or depression almost halved.
At the same time as TechForce19, we were piloting our menopause support with major employers such as Santander and Novartis. Again, the results were exceptional.
Back then, we were delivering one-to-one chat between practitioners and users on WhatsApp. The solution was basic, but it was clear it was having an life-changing impact on users.
Life at Peppy has been a whirlwind since. Our team has tripled in size, we’ve redesigned our website and released a brand-new, very slick app. Our offering has expanded to include fertility support, and from basic chat and calls to including a calendar of live broadcast events, articles, multi-media resources and a community feature.
Our list of clients is growing every day, including the launch of our partnership with Vitality, making them the first UK private medical insurer to offer dedicated menopause support.
It has been a steep learning curve. We’ve seized every opportunity and pushed ourselves and our product to be constantly improving.
We’re not afraid of getting stuck in, trying new things and listening to the feedback… then taking it on board and doing it all over again.
Why did you decide to enter the health tech start-up space?
From a young age, I was engaged in the health tech start-up space. I was involved in the Cambridge University Entrepreneurship centre and saw the rise of tech and biotech when I was at MIT.
It was my passion to make healthcare accessible and affordable that saw me take the leap, but I was helped by my familiarity with the system from years of working in the McKinsey healthcare practise and at Novartis group.
That background knowledge has been critical to building Peppy.
Have you faced many barriers in getting Peppy off the ground?
When we started Peppy, few employers understood the importance of menopause support. It was difficult convincing them to pay for any kind of menopause support, let alone that provided by a start-up.
We have had to create the market. Luckily, some of the companies who took a chance on Peppy early on have gone on to become our biggest champions for workplace menopause support, because they’ve seen first-hand the positive impact it can have.
Why did you decide to enter Pitchfest?
We have worked closely with DigitalHealth.London, and Peppy is one of this year’s SMEs on their Accelerator programme. Their support has been instrumental in our growth.
We decided to enter Pitchfest to bring Peppy in front of Digital Health’s audience, but also to go after the opportunity to test Peppy with the NHS.
How did you find the experience?
It was incredible. Right from the organising – which was very professional and timely – to the judges – who are all top experts in their fields.
The quick-fire, competitive atmosphere was tough, but good fun, and the audience was also fantastic – many have even been reaching out after the event. We really enjoyed it.
Looking to the future, what do you hope Peppy will achieve and what’s the next step in achieving that goal?
Ultimately, our goal is to give millions of people around the world access to life-changing support, whenever and wherever they need it most.
We’ve started with three critical areas – fertility, baby and menopause. Now, we’re looking to expand our offering further, to give support during more of life’s most challenging transition.
The next step for us is to scale-up. Our team is growing rapidly to meet demand, and we’re laying the foundations to ensure we’re ready to deliver the same level of support – or better – as our user base grows.
Watch this space, we have some very exciting developments under-way and launching later this year.
What advice do you have for others looking to enter the health tech start up scene?
Aim high. Get to know the healthcare system you’re looking to launch in. Focus on your proof points.