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The Unique Challenges of starting a Healthcare Business (Episode 116)

Josh Whalen is the Founder & CEO of Blokes, a startup Telehealth company dedicated to men’s health.

Years ago, Josh had to seek treatment for his health problems and found himself unimpressed and dissatisfied with the industry standard.

Using his 13 years of healthcare experience and his lifelong entrepreneurial spirit, Josh is seeking to revolutionize the future of men’s health.

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What you will learn

  • Josh unpacks his interesting entrepreneurial journey
  • Healthcare awareness for men: Discover the effects of testosterone and peptides on the body
  • Learn why too much marketing automation can drive customers away
  • Josh shares why healthcare is a tough market for a new entrepreneur
  • Why understanding the legal landscape is crucial when starting a business in healthcare
  • Discover the unique challenges of healthcare companies
  • Why using a subscription-based business model is the key to longevity in business
  • Learn what it means to offer frictionless service
  • The evolution of technology in healthcare

Transcript

Jeff Bullas

00:00:03 - 00:00:47

Hi everyone and welcome to the Jeff Bullas show. Today I have with me, Josh Whalen. Now, Josh is the CEO and Founder of Blokes.co. What's Blokes.co? We're going to get into that in a little bit. But he’s been in startup Telehealth companies which are dedicated to men's health. That's what Blokes is about. And years ago, Josh had to seek treatment for his own health problems and found himself unimpressed and dissatisfied with the industry standard. Now, using his 13 years of healthcare experience and his lifelong entrepreneurial spirit, Josh is seeking to revolutionize the future of men's health and we're gonna have a little chat today about men's health, what it's like to be an entrepreneur and many other rabbit holes that we're going to go down into, I am sure.

So welcome to the show, Josh. It's great to have you here.

Josh Whalen

00:00:47 - 00:00:49

Thank you, Jeff. I'm glad to be here.

Jeff Bullas

00:00:51 - 00:01:18

So Josh. I'm always intrigued by the reasons behind why people want to be an entrepreneur because it's not a bed of roses generally. But on the other side, it is a life of independence. And despite that sometimes painful, sometimes joyful. So how did your entrepreneurial journey start?

Josh Whalen

00:01:19 - 00:02:34

Yeah, that's a good question. You know I, like many others, I think, you know, I had to get some type of foundation. My start with healthcare was with a big company, you guys have them over there to a company called Stryker and I was an outside sales rep. So that gave me a really, a foundation, an understanding of running my own business. And then quickly I realized I was better at being my own boss than I was at taking orders and I wanted to see if the grass was greener on the other side.

So I took the leap and it was probably one of the most stressful periods of my life for about 6-8 months because I thought I had the plan and like Mike Tyson says everybody's got a plan until they get punched in the face. My punch in the face happened to just be the real world and the relationships I thought I was taking with me to start that journey that didn't come with me and, and almost starting from scratch. But, you know, it's grown a lot of gray hairs, but I wouldn't change it for anything else. You know, the money, the success, the ups and the downs is or what you live for as an entrepreneur and for me more and more importantly is finding a problem and creating a solution to that problem.

Jeff Bullas

00:02:34 - 00:03:12

Yeah, and that's where a lot of people start and even like the likes of Uber that was founded out of standing up freezing street in Paris and not being able to get a taxi and they're going, there's gotta be a better way and I think we've all been there trying to hail a taxi on a wet night, cold night, I want to get home and they just keep driving past because they're full up. So yes, solving a problem is quite often the inspiration. So let's go to Blokes then and tell us a bit about your story or how you got to start Blokes.co.

Josh Whalen

00:03:12 - 00:04:12

Sure it's, for me, it was a personal journey. My wife and my mid thirties, I'm 40 now for the record, told me, hey dude, you don't get your sex drive back, we're gonna get a divorce. And I went and saw primary care physicians that gave me, at that time, pretty bad guidance. I was told I was on the low side of a range but knowing something was not connecting, I wasn't feeling the right way. And then I finally sought out a hormone specialist that dialed in exactly what I came to see them for. And then I figured out that process just was cumbersome.

I had to drive out of my way 45 minutes to get an appointment while getting bad advice and I just wanted it to be a better and more streamlined process for guys, whether it's educating, whether it's accessibility, everything that we do is at home. So it's super easy and super accessible, but it started out of my personal journey and I saw the opportunity to make it a, you know, a lot more vertical and a lot more streamlined for guys.

Jeff Bullas

00:04:13 - 00:04:40

So because the issue too with guys, typically is they don't, they don't take action unless someone gives a bit of a kick in the bum. Your wife was the one who was doing that for you. And Blokes can be very much not very good at looking after themselves physically or even mentally or just health wise. Have you, have you got to the bottom of that?

Josh Whalen

00:04:41 - 00:06:11

You know what's funny? I get this question asked a lot, You know what, why are men reluctant to do that? And I've read more articles than I can even count on why. There's not a single consensus, there's a group consensus and there's a multitude of factors. What I tend to trace it back is we are told at a young age as boys to toughen up and and and put dirt on it and just go about your business. So you extrapolate that over years, 10, 15, 20 years and now you're in the position to make a decision on your health. It's hard to acknowledge that you're in pain. It's hard to acknowledge that your sex drive is off. It's hard to acknowledge that maybe you do have brain fog and sometimes the best way to acknowledge that is the people around you. And I often give the example of my scenario, it was like, it was like living with a partner who snores. The only person that really suffers when somebody is snoring is the other person who's trying to sleep. It's never the person that's snoring. So my wife in that, in that instance was the person that was suffering in a relationship. I was addressing their needs. I didn't understand their needs, nor did I even understand that I was having those issues. You know, so when you come full circle on guys getting help, whether it's mental help, whether it's physical help, whether it's spiritual help, they're reluctant to ask help because I think they've been rooted with that for years and years and it's hard to change when it's been embedded in their mind.

Jeff Bullas

00:06:12 - 00:06:54

Yeah, that's right. So I think, you know, like you said, toughen up boys, big boys don't cry all that stuff, you know, the cliches that we as boys and emerging men quite often told and yeah.

So tell us a bit about testosterone therapy because it's a bit of a black hole in a sense and it's like I've, I've done some reading on it recently and it's just all over the place. So tell us about what you discover along the way in terms of your own journey with this and how you treat, I suppose hormone issues is really what you're talking about, isn't it from?

Josh Whalen

00:06:54 - 00:08:28

Yeah, you bet. There's two camps there, the testosterone is a steroid, right? The old school thought of the bodybuilder, the meathead and the guy that's just doing anything to get that edge. That is not how we practice. We focus on replacement and there's a big difference there. We feel that guys and women should be in an optimal range, meaning all we're doing if you're suffering from asymptomatic perspective and the blood markers match that we're trying to replace what we think is there. So all we're doing is giving a dose to get you to an optimal level. And you're right, I think, I think there needs to be a lot of education. I think there's an old school thought that testosterone is bad, but we, when you actually start peeking on their hood, testosterone is a really good thing, optimal testosterone are really a thing. What's really bad for the human body is when you have low testosterone ranges or too high of testosterone ranges, testosterone are really, really good marker for inflammation and if you think about that and you break down so many diseases that can live and thrive in information whether it's gut, whether it's joint, arthritis, for example, gut health. If you have optimal testosterone levels and that's a really key marker for inflammation and you can maintain that. That's a really good thing for longevity. It's a good, really good thing for vitality. And that's how we approach the business.

Jeff Bullas

00:08:30 - 00:08:37

Yes, so basically trying to dispel the myth. So you must be doing a lot of education, is that part of what you do in terms of your marketing?

Josh Whalen

00:08:37 - 00:09:23

Yeah, you bet. I think there's a lot of guys when you start hitting a certain age group right, studies show anywhere between 30 and 35, our cellular activity just starts to change. The aging process starts to actually take place and when you start hitting those ages, the only place that growth hormone testosterone is going to go is down right, and it's proven, this is a scientific, fact. So as that aging process starts, guys start to become more intrigued because their biological clock per se is starting to tick, but they don't know why and it is our goal and our marketing, that's our goal and our one-on-one sessions to really educate the patient, understand why they're there and understand what their goals are and what they're trying to solve.

Jeff Bullas

00:09:23 - 00:10:08

Yeah, so you got the idea saying I need to solve this problem and quite often entrepreneurs discover that process and systems are actually pretty important. So, but a lot of entrepreneurs, we run away from that because it's attention to detail. The entrepreneurs, typically a bigger picture, here is the problem, I want to solve it, save the world for that particular problem. So you would have had to put a few pieces in place here to create a system to help Blokes. Tell us a bit about those pieces that you initially put together after the big idea.

Josh Whalen

00:10:09 - 00:11:46

You nailed it, at least for me as an entrepreneur, I think there are really gifted entrepreneurs like Elon Musk who can have the big idea but then have all the intricate details in between. I'm a big thinker and putting those pieces together are still happening, we're still optimizing our process every day. I think one thing that I took for granted is how important the process was and you know, you start hearing words like user experience and flow and timelines and speed to appointments. Those are equally as important as the actual idea, if not more important. And now, you know, if anything were constantly analyzing the process and where does that patient journey start, does it start a podcast? Does it start a Google Ad? Does it start a Facebook Ad and then what does that journey look like by the time they're actually getting their prescription and everything in there, that meat, it's not sexy. I call it the blocking and tackling of the business that has to work more efficiently than any other part of the business, in my opinion, because it's not just getting the prescription in the hand, that's how it got to that person. So we're dialing it in as we speak. I think what's really fun is we're putting together a pitch deck to go raise money and we're gonna be putting a lot of that blocking and tackling in place. Now that we know we have a concept, now that we know that we're solving some issues and you know it's, I'm a big thinker guy, but I got to hire the right people to solve those issues.

Jeff Bullas

00:11:48 - 00:12:10

Yeah, exactly. So one of the challenges of a lot of businesses generating leads, so you're trying to solve a problem. So what is, what are some of your tactics that you are currently using to generate leads for your business? Was there a bunch of tactics content? What's lead generation look like for Blokes.co?

Josh Whalen

00:12:10 - 00:13:35

Yeah. You know, I'm a big believer in not putting your eggs in one basket and I think you have to hit consumers in many, many different ways. I am the best advertisement because I'm a walking billboard. If I'm sitting at the bar with a guy, I'm gonna tell him what I do, why I do it, how I did it. I think word of mouth starts there for us, it's getting the message across in formats like this because there is so much education when it comes to hormone organization. So podcast has been a good way for us to start educating, creating content, reposting that content, but then, you know, for us, since we're virtual, we have to look at, you know, what are the best means to get patient acquisition. Google Ads have been extremely important for us at the top of that funnel then we look at retargeting mechanisms such as Instagram, Facebook, which they've gotten pretty tough when it comes to hormone optimization. It's just health care in general, but there's ways around that and then just building our own content, whether it's LinkedIn, whether it's Instagram, whether it's Facebook, just building value and constantly educating the patient and building value and building that trust with the patient because, you know, what we see is guys, for example, are pretty slow consumers and they're not usually the greatest consumer when it comes to response, but it can take anywhere from 6-8 different touches before they're ready to even take an action. Women are a lot more responsive than that facet.

Jeff Bullas

00:13:35 - 00:14:13

Okay, that's interesting. So tell us a bit about how the process works. If a Bloke, says look I've got a problem, puts up his hand. So the sales process for you got the lead and I just want to understand. So Blokes know what to expect from a service from you guys to help them with their health. So as we know, getting rid of brain fog and having energy is important as an entrepreneur, so you need to be on top of your game. Tell us something about the process and getting solving the problem for the patient.

Josh Whalen

00:14:13 - 00:15:21

Yeah. How it works is easy. We've actually dabbled with this process and we're like I said earlier, we're still evolving. One thing that we have realized in our process is too much automation is usually not enough for the patient to feel good about it. Not enough automation in a virtual world also drives the patient away. So we're trying to blend and marry those two so that the process is simple. Start with an online consultant, fill basic demographics, sign off on some informed consents, some health history, just your standard health stuff. My team immediately calls you within that hour and will get you on the books depending on whether you need a lab or not. We'll get you on the books with one of our clinical providers, an M.D., a D.O., a nurse practitioner or a P. A. And then after that happens we are then able to ship you medications. If you're a diligent consumer, if you're diligent patient, that process can be as quick as a week. If you're a little bit more methodical, it could be anywhere from 2-3 weeks before you actually have the medication on-hand but we try to combine a little bit of automation and then a lot of service.

Jeff Bullas

00:15:22 - 00:15:37

Cool. You operate in, some challenges I think come to mind for me is that you operate in a fairly regulated market, medical. So what are some of the challenges been in that space for you guys?

Josh Whalen

00:15:37 - 00:16:52

Yeah I think healthcare, especially in the wake of Covid is a really tough market to navigate. I wouldn't advise a new entrepreneur who's never been in it to do it unless you have a huge capital backing. But for us, we deal with a lot of government bodies. We deal with the attorney general of each state, for example, we deal with the FDA, we deal with the FTC. We deal with state pharmacy boards and you know, I will tell anybody looking at this business to make sure they're doing their diligence when it comes to legal requirements. You gotta have a good attorney, you gotta almost have one on, on standby or flash style. But knowing what you're getting into before you start crossing state lines and we live in this really unique market of being a virtual healthcare provider. You know, it's evolving. It's, you know, people think it's there, but you know, there's a lot of states that are very friendly towards it, especially when you deal with testosterone because it's a controlled substance and there's a lot of states that you just can't do it and doing that diligence and understanding the legal landscape is extremely important in any business but in particular healthcare.

Jeff Bullas

00:16:52 - 00:17:04

Yeah, so the other, the other challenge too is America's health and medical system is very much state driven, is that correct?

Josh Whalen

00:17:04 - 00:17:58

So you have two, well, you have, you have a few different bodies, right? You have the FDA, which is a federal governing body, then you have state pharmacy boards, which each state has their own pharmacy board and they can essentially say yes or no to any therapy, any product. You know, and then you have, once you start crossing state lines, you have the FTC. So, there's a collective effort and then last but certainly not least, I don't even think I mentioned this was the DEA, which is a federal government process, but each state also has certain DEA requirements as well. So there's a lot of hoops that you start jumping zero. And if you don't have a good understanding of it. And if you don't have honey pots sitting there to throw at legal, you probably should reconsider your venture because it's one of those that you want to be legally bind up.

Jeff Bullas

00:18:00 - 00:18:11

So you and so based upon your experience in the healthcare industry over the last what, 13 years, obviously you've got the experience and used to navigating this, is that correct?

Josh Whalen

00:18:12 - 00:18:49

Yeah, true. And I've been fortunate to be in many different facets of health care to where a lot of this diligence has been done, but a lot of it hasn't, and you got to dot the i's and cross the t’s and, you know, virtual health is somewhat new to me and you know, so learning those pathways is still different, but they're also evolving, you know, coming off the wake of Covid, I feel like every state is changing how they're regulating telehealth practices throughout the country and it's important to stay in tune with those.

Jeff Bullas

00:18:50 - 00:19:13

So obviously you must be, if you're providing a health solution, you've mentioned using partners in other words that helps you scale, you don't need to teach them internally necessarily, but except for processes and systems maybe. But so what are some of the partners you use to provide you with the resources you need to help Blokes?

Josh Whalen

00:19:13 - 00:20:05

Yeah, I mean there are a few key things that we need to do. We need to incorporate. One is labs. If you're not incorporating diagnostic labs with the likes of LabCorp or Quests or local labs that you can maybe do at home testing then you're doing a disservice to your patient and to me it's malpractice. The other pieces is compounding pharmacies and compounding pharmacies play a huge role in how we prescribe a huge role in the products that we can get patients, the sterility of the actual products, the longevity of the products and just the safety profile. So if you're not incorporating those then you're probably not running the south calendar with practice in this space. And they're crucial. They are absolutely crucial to the, you know, the soundness of our practice.

Jeff Bullas

00:20:06 - 00:20:11

So the initial interview, is that done by a medical professional?

Josh Whalen

00:20:11 - 00:21:09

You got it. Yeah. Yeah. So we work with M.D.’s, D.O.’s, nurse practitioners and P.S. And yet a lot of it depends on where that patient is located. A lot of it depends on where that license holder is located and where their licenses, in the States as most know, you can't practice over state lines unless you have a medical license unless you have a D.A. license. So there's a lot of regulatory aspect there, there's a lot of admin and accounting there, but depending on where that patient resides is who we typically will match you with.

But everybody that we work with is certified in a 4M, which is a big governing body when it comes to hormone optimization and prescription peptides. Been doing the hormone optimization for years amongst our team, we have somewhere around 80 odd years or so just a hormone optimization, which has become such a specialized field over the last 10 years.

Jeff Bullas

00:21:10 - 00:21:14

So basically what you're saying is don't start a business like this without a net?

Josh Whalen

00:21:15 - 00:21:50

Yeah, let me tell you this, I have bootstrapped this thing from day one and there's a reason why we're going to raise money and we are well in the six figures in this business and there's definitely light at the end of the tunnel, we're hitting really, really good stride with their marketing, with their content with our flow and our process, but it's taken a lot of months, a lot of blood, sweat and tears and hours to really dive into that and understand it. And so, so yeah, in short, I would tell you, have a nice safety net.

Jeff Bullas

00:21:53 - 00:22:36

Yeah, I totally get that. So the other thing, look, I'm, even though I'm from Australia, I have been to America a lot and read a fair bit about health care and so on. Now, healthcare in America can be incredibly expensive and typically you don't get health insurance unless you've got a job. So in terms of your target market, how do you deal with that in terms of, are you dealing with Blokes who have health insurance and can afford it? Was there challenges with price points and budgets? Tell us something about that area because that's the thing that's sort of come up in my mind about potential challenges for Blokes.co.

Josh Whalen

00:22:37 - 00:24:19

Yeah, there's a huge shift right now in the US and a lot of that is concierge medicine. A lot of it is elective style therapies. We fall into that category meaning we don't take insurance, fortunately or unfortunately, however you want to look at it a lot of what we do is not even covered by insurance. Testosterone replacement therapy is if it's covered, it's a rare thing. And if it is covered, it's because of a really odd or horrible conditions such as cancer. So when we look at our target consumer, yeah, we do have an ideal person, but that person could have insurance, doesn't have to have insurance. Our ideal customers is really when they start hitting that age mark, you know, call it that mid-30s to 65 when they started noticing that their body has changed. And we do our best to keep the prices reasonable. I mean our TRT Plan is $149 a month. And that includes all your labs, all your consults, we do anywhere from 5 to 8 labs on every patient and an annual period. And that usually comes with anywhere from 4 to 8 concierge style visits. So it's still rather affordable. I mean it's a night out to dinner or a night out with the boys, you know, so you have to prioritize, but then it can really scale from there, let's say you're the ultimate bio hacker, you're the Ben Greenfield of the world and you want to start stacking testosterone replacement with multiple peptides. You can quickly run up to, you know, anywhere from $800 to $1500 a month.

Jeff Bullas

00:24:19 - 00:24:27

You're right, so you're essentially, you're providing this as a sort of monthly subscription service?

Josh Whalen

00:24:27 - 00:25:14

You got it. So some of our therapies are monthly and then some of them are stand alones and, you know, it just depends on the patient, depends on their goals, it depends on where their symptoms are. We look at hormone optimization, testosterone replacement as a subscription, something that once you're on it, you're likely going to want to stay on it, not that you have to stay on it, but you're gonna likely want to stay on it because the benefits are so, they're so clear and patients do really well with it under medical supervision, but some of our peptides for example, let's say BPC-157, which is for inflammation gut health. A lot of patients will cycle on that for, you know, eight weeks and then we'll cycle off it for eight weeks. It just depends on the patient.

Jeff Bullas

00:25:14 - 00:25:28

Right. So essentially you're just thinking of a possible acronym for blokes, is what you're doing is it's testosterone is a service or health as a service. There was a task or a hash.

Josh Whalen

00:25:29 - 00:25:30

Yeah.

Jeff Bullas

00:25:31 - 00:25:54

And also there's nothing to it, the multiples in terms of exit and valuations when it comes to raising money because subscription now has become almost embedded woven into almost every entrepreneur and startup. Now that the subscription model has become quite useful. Is that an important part of your business modeling?

Josh Whalen

00:25:54 - 00:26:48

Yeah, absolutely. The way we looked at it is, you know, the subscription model is key for longevity and overall ROI and it's also a great way to land and expand into other therapies. A lot of guys just come in and say, you know, my hormone optimization guy. So these are perfect subscription, but through education and clinical feedback and building a relationship, then we can start expanding on the peptide therapy. The other side of it is we wanted a subscription component, but we also didn't want to neglect the people who were not really ready to go all in on the subscription. So we try to educate, we try to build rapport with the patient and, you know, so we kind of run a hybrid model, but it's absolutely an important aspect as we go to look to raise money.

Jeff Bullas

00:26:49 - 00:28:13

Yeah, because I've been involved with a startup for the last 10 years, it's still called a startup, but raised about I think 20-25 million so far, but 60 staff. So it's a company called Shadow Rock, which I've been involved with, which originally came out of content marketing and social media back in 10, 11 years ago, but they've developed a business model which is creative as a service. So it's actually using a mix of people skills, creative skills plus technical to scale. So it's, again, it's a hybrid model, but it's creative as a service to create video ads from static images, which is what Shadow Rock does. So it's really interesting to hear your model, which is both, which is a hybrid by the sounds of, which is interesting. So I have had some experience with going from just a business that moves to another as it evolves model, because the reality is that in starting a business you think you've got the audience nailed, you think you've got the product nailed. And then, as you said about Mike Tyson, suddenly discovered that the plan in your head is just not working.

Josh Whalen

00:28:13 - 00:28:56

We felt like we tweaked the system in the process all too often. What I have learned in a short amount of time is it's important as we go to raise, as we forecast to own as much of this process as possible. And that means, you know, whether or not we get into the laboratory game is one thing, but getting into the pharmacy game is definitely going to be part of that forecast and being able to control the supply and demand and the distribution, the packaging of soup to nuts. The service is so imperative. And, you know, it took about three or four months for us to realize that, but it's definitely going to be part of the race.

Jeff Bullas

00:28:57 - 00:29:24

And the challenges that you are going to outsource everything as much as possible. So you actually can afford without going to huge capital raising before you actually bring it in the house. And that's always the challenge, isn't it? So like, okay, so let's get partners we can work with. But then over time to get control of quality and process and systems is you do need to bring a certain essential elements in the house and when to do that becomes a challenge, doesn't it?

Josh Whalen

00:29:24 - 00:30:06

It is tough and, you know, the harder pieces is, can you make money on both sides of it? And, you know, you can make more money by bringing it in the house. But then you have a staff, you know, you have, you have heating, you have cooling, you have rent, you have different products supply. You know, so can we house our own pharmacy. Do we have enough supply there? I think we do. I think we will eventually, especially when we increase the marketing budget. But yeah, you definitely gotta weigh those options, but I do know that's where we're going.

Jeff Bullas

00:30:07 - 00:30:10

With that because that will give you as much control as possible for you to scale.

Josh Whalen

00:30:11 - 00:31:13

Yeah. And, you know, I think it gives us more tentacles, you know, not only do we have to service ourselves. Perhaps we can service you know it's pretty compelling to have a compounding pharmacy that's licensed in all 50 states. That can shift to all 50 states. Perhaps we roll out our own white labeling system. Maybe within our space, maybe indirect competitors. But, you know, the virtual health market is to me it's pretty unlimited owning the pharmacy then opens up quite a bit. It also opens up quite a bit in our portfolio. I'm looking at TRT and hormone optimization and peptide therapy is kind of the intro. But there's so many other things that we can expand on, you know, any medications, you know ADHD, anti anxiety, depression, you know there's a lot of things in men's health that we're not tapping into. And it will make a lot of sense if we're, you know, if we're running that process soup to nuts.

Jeff Bullas

00:31:14 - 00:31:36

The other challenge too is, well actually the opportunity and challenges that a lot of medical services are essentially legacy services, and I still believe and it happens in Australia, is that doctors still communicate quite often with a fax machine which are now in museums.

Josh Whalen

00:31:37 - 00:31:48

Well let me tell you this. We still have to send fax to pharmacies and you know it's a need fax but it's still a fax.

Jeff Bullas

00:31:48 - 00:32:51

Yeah exactly. And then referrals, okay here's the other thing. So specialists will not see you unless there's a referral from a GP and a recent experience with my partner, she had a little checkup specialist on her hand. She forgot to take her printed page written hand note to the specialist. So I had to go around and get it scanned and emailed to the specialist. Otherwise they would have sent her home or she would come home. But he's going, hang on, isn't it 2022? It's like, my God, isn't there a better way? And I'm sure that's part of your opportunity for you guys as well is you're going let's drag some of these health opportunity issues into the 21st century so that we actually can solve problems faster and better and cheaper. Is that part of your thinking as well?

Josh Whalen

00:32:52 - 00:33:38

Absolutely. I look at health care in America at least into different buckets. One is insurance and then one is elective and to me I think where it's going is allowing the patient to control that process or to own that process. If I have a cold sore on my lip, I shouldn't have to go to my primary care doctor then go to the pharmacy or then refer to somebody who specializes in the cold sore, right? You know, you know what when you have an injury or you have an ailment and if we can, if we can be that first point from an elective perspective, you know, it may not allow insurance, but if we can keep the pricing competitive, most patients are going to go for ease of access.

Jeff Bullas

00:33:38 - 00:34:03

Yeah, exactly. Well, I think that part of the challenge, I think in healthcare is that is the friction involved in getting ships done. You've got to jump through quite a few hoops, you gotta drive like you talked, you were driving 45 minutes to get to visit the doctor. So is part of what you're trying to do is actually remove the friction to make sure that people can look after their health better, make it easier?

Josh Whalen

00:34:04 -00:34:56

Absolutely. Yeah, I mean I look at my process and I think at the end of the day we're all patients, right. Even the doctor at some point as a patient, we've all been in long boring stale waiting rooms, we've all been on hold for 30-45 minutes to schedule an appointment. We've all battled an insurance bill. That was incorrect or they missed my spelling and you know, they didn't build my insurance. We've all been there and if you can move, remove that friction, that proverbial friction as a patient, healthcare then becomes like other markets. I mean the healthcare gets a bad rep and bad stigma because of all that process oriented stuff that is friction. If you can remove that and if we could be the catalyst to do that, are known in men's health that were the frictionless company. Imagine how many people are going to come to us.

Jeff Bullas

00:34:56 - 00:35:20

I think as we've had this chat, I can see the opportunities for you guys if you get this right, definitely. So let’s talk about peptides. I'm not an expert in peptides because I've just never done much about it.

What's the peptide and tell us a bit more about what the applications are from in.

Josh Whalen

00:35:21 - 00:36:32

Yeah, I mean peptides are important. Peptides are like hormones, right. They are flowing through our body naturally. We have, you know, somewhere around 7000 peptides that are flowing through our body. Most common peptides that people are not aware of is insulin, your body can't live without it, obviously, type one and type two diabetes and it's been prescribed for you know, 50, 60, 70 years. They're about 50 FDA approved peptides right now, inexistent, constantly evolving, constantly studying them. And you know, we focus on peptides that range from weight loss to hair loss to sexual function to growth hormone, anti aging, they're phenomenal phenomenal things, their chains of amino acids and there's basically the stepping stones of proteins. So you have peptides, you have polypeptides and then you have proteins and they're really fun and exciting space that I think is first of all it's been around for years, but I think we're still studying and evolving. The nice thing about peptides when you take them as a patient is you're not shutting off that natural production. You're only encouraging more of that natural production.

Jeff Bullas

00:36:32 - 00:36:47

Right. So and because you're really trying with peptides, you're trying to solve two initial problems, aren't you? One is testosterone therapy and the other one is weight loss as well, is that correct?

Josh Whalen

00:36:47 - 00:37:36

Yeah. So, I look at peptides and testosterone falls under hormones. And then peptides are in its own individual category. And one of the unique things about peptides is they can do really specific things really, really well. And there's a really big buzz. And in the healthcare community with a weight loss prescription peptide it's called a GLP-1 medication, Glucagon-like peptide. The big name that everybody is thrown around. It's called Semaglutide. And what that does is it slows down the digestive track while decreasing the appetite and cravings. So it's a phenomenal peptide. It's FDA approved. Most patients over a six month to an annual period of losing anywhere from 10-20% of their body weight.

Jeff Bullas

00:37:37 - 00:39:06

Right, okay. Yeah, weight issue has never been a problem for me. So I sort of don't get it. I'm actually maybe more towards not eating than eating too much. So I've never had a weight problem per se, really. and I sort of look at people going, you gotta get over it, man, you know, first stop eating, just get out and exercise. But I'm operating from a different, you know.

Josh Whalen

00:38:09 - 00:39:07

Well, it's a good perspective. You're lucky to have it, right? And people are not not even aware that your body has hunger hormones, satiety hormones that also play a factor in your weight. And, you know, here in the United States, you're probably aware that we have a 42% obesity population. So we have a chronic issue in the United States that needs to be addressed. And as you're aware, if you're obese, there's a lot of other comorbidities that typically come with that. Diabetes, asthma, you know, you're not working out. So your metabolic rate is just screwed up to the roof. And, you know, it's definitely shortening life. So I think it's a really good thing that we're trying to get a pulse on and these GLP-1 medications are really showing a lot of promise in the space.

Jeff Bullas

00:39:07 - 00:39:31

And that's what blows me away all the time is the use of the evolution and rapid evolution of technology, including medical technology and treatments that is just mind boggling what's going on because now we've got the computing power to crunch data test faster. Just like what happened with Covid we had vaccines out within 12 months.

Josh Whalen

00:39:31 - 00:39:33

Yeah, exactly.

Jeff Bullas

00:39:33 - 00:40:12

So it's pretty exciting times in terms of health, but you gotta look, but you still have to take the peptide, we're gonna take the hormone, you're going to take the drug. And the other thing I think we get around is certainly just challenged, get struggled a little bit as well. If I'm taking a drug, I'm not actually healthy because I suffer. Whereas modern life, it's got its own challenges. So it's as you guys, as a health company, you're fighting many I suppose paradigms and ways of living and challenges that you've got to overcome in your marketing as well. So. Yeah.

Josh Whalen

00:40:12 - 00:41:08

Yeah. That's a good point. We get a lot of naysayers that are not willing to say I'm going to go that route because I feel like I'm giving up, right. Our best patient is the patient that's ready to make change regardless of their income, regardless of who they are. And that means they're ready to make change in their lifestyle. They're ready to live a healthier lifestyle. I don't care what drug you're injecting in anybody. I don't care what pill you're taking. I don't care what supplement you're taking. If you're not willing to make those changes, you're likely not going to see the results of the success that you want.

So even though we are prescribing medications to help with that, what we tell people is we're just going to get you to that finish line a lot quicker. But only if you follow the protocol, only if you follow the program and only if you're ready to make change.

Jeff Bullas

00:41:08 - 00:42:00

I think the wonderful opportunity in that area in is there's a lot of pain. And actually pain often is a much more powerful motivation than pleasure. So if you've got a medical problem and you're a lot of pain, you're about, you know, you've been told you're gonna die unless you do this. There's a little bit of motivation which is good. in other words. you're addressing big problems and overcoming big issues and big problems, so it's great. So what do you see the biggest challenges for you going forward? It sounds like you've identified one of them which is getting venture capital so you can scale this baby. What else is some of the challenges that you see for you to get this to fly?

Josh Whalen

00:42:01 - 00:44:26

Yeah, I think our biggest one is the capital. Marketing dollars are real and infrastructure is real money. I think indirect issues is where healthcare stands in a year or two years post-Covid with telehealth, we don't really know where it's going to stand, we think we have an idea, but you know we work in the world, testosterone is considered a controlled substance and in my opinion, for some good reason, some batteries, but that puts us in a completely different category. You never know what the FDA is gonna do. You never know what the D.A. is going to do in terms of those. So for us, it's having a full bag, a full portfolio of options that we can offer our patients and really diversify and how we, you know, get to the customer. So I think that's our biggest thing. Obviously there's competition. I like to say if I'm in the trench with any other Founder and CEO, I'm gonna outwork them. I'm gonna out climb them. You know, this is why I do this. You know, I believe in our mission, I'm fortunate enough to be in the trenches as a patient as well. So I truly, truly believe in what we're doing. But other than that, I think we have a really good business plan. I think we have a really good objective. I know the therapies that we're offering work and I can stand behind that, which is a really remarkable thing but I think our biggest issue right now is growing sustainably and going to raise money. I mean, we're in month eight of seeing patients and we almost broke even on our monthly costs last month, which is for us, I think it's a win. And each month we're seeing, you know, double digit growth. We're seeing more and more word of mouth, we're seeing more of our SEO and our blogs and our content starts to take shape. If anything right now, we can't keep up with the growth across state lines because of licensure with a lot of our providers. So, I mean, if we get, you know, 10 leads in the day, or 20 in the day, 10 of them are coming from states that were not even licensing. So the blocking and tackling on the content and the marketing, it's starting to pick up, and we're starting to see our natural SEO go up. So it's really good things happening.

Jeff Bullas

00:44:27 - 00:44:48

Yeah, that's great to hear that you're getting that traction, which is fantastic. So just as a finishing note, what's to other entrepreneurs or wannabe entrepreneurs, people that want to get in and already in the trenches, what some of your top tips or a top tip that you think is really important in terms of succeeding as an entrepreneur?

Josh Whalen

00:44:49 - 00:45:40

Yeah, I'm a big believer on owning that journey, regardless of what it is, you know, doing the diligence before you get there, and, you know, I went to this networking event called Baby Bathwater about three weeks ago and I didn't really know what my intent was or what my goal was, part of my goal was to just know that other entrepreneurs are struggling and other founders are struggling and know that that journey is real because life is an Instagram life, life is in Facebook, you sure as hell ain't seen the downs of a business, you're only seeing the ups on those channels. So to me, it's just sticking to the mission. Always, always stick to that mission. Always know that if you're doing that, you're likely solving a problem.

Jeff Bullas

00:45:40 - 00:45:44

Right. So it sounds to me like you're playing the long game?

Josh Whalen

00:45:45 - 00:45:56

We're trying to, you know, I'm getting more and more gray hairs, but fortunately I have hormone optimization and baptized therapy to keep up with my lifestyle.

Jeff Bullas

00:45:56 - 00:46:18

Well mate, you still got your wife, you're still looking healthy and you obviously curious about what you're doing driven by a personal story and I think that is pretty motivating place to start. So looking forward to hearing more about your journey as we keep in touch.

Josh Whalen

00:46:18 - 00:46:20

Absolutely.

Jeff Bullas

00:46:20 - 00:46:28

So thanks Josh for your time, it's an absolute pleasure. And how do people contact you and the company? What's the best way to contact you?

Josh Whalen

00:46:28 - 00:47:03

Yeah, I mean the best way is Blokes.co. It's super easy. We have a great Instagram page with lots of content at it’s @getblokes and if anybody reaches out through those channels, if they're looking for me, they can easily get a hold of me. My email is my first name at blokes.co. I'd be happy to talk to anybody about my journey, their journey and just give them, you know, the good, bad and the ugly per se of this space and making the right decisions from the onset.

Jeff Bullas

00:47:04 - 00:47:19

Well, I congratulate you on stepping into the unknown and I understand what that looks like and thank you very much for sharing your story and look forward to catching up maybe in Denver.

Josh Whalen

00:47:19 - 00:47:21

Absolutely.

Jeff Bullas

00:47:21 - 00:47:24

For a beer or maybe a pop of testosterone pill, I don't know.

Josh Whalen

00:47:24 - 00:47:29

Hey, we got you covered on both.

Jeff Bullas

00:47:30 - 00:47:32

Okay, mate, really appreciate it. Thank you.

Josh Whalen

00:47:32 - 00:47:34

Okay, mate, really appreciate it. Thank you.