Leisa: Hello, I’m Leisa Holland-Nelson and this is The BusinessMakers Show, brought to you by Comcast Business, built for business. My guest today is Ursula Hessenflow, the Co-founder and CEO of myLABbox where safe is sexy. Welcome to The BusinessMakers Ursula.
Ursula: Thank you for inviting me Leisa.
Leisa: Tell us about myLABbox.
Ursula: Well myLABbox is the first online service that actually allows you to test for STDs and related conditions all from the privacy of your own home.
Leisa: Very interesting idea, where did that come from?
Ursula: It really came from awkward conversations in our own world, single dating women and having some girl talk and seeing an opportunity here to solve a problem. And then when we dug in and actually saw the real statistics that exist in the U.S. that half of us will have something in our lifetime we thought this is an opportunity for us to apply our digital marketing expertise to a real social problem.
Leisa: Well tell me a little bit more about the statistics and the demographics of sexually transmitted diseases. You just said half of us are going to have one?
Ursula: Yep, one in two people that you know statistically will get something in their lifetime and a third of the U.S. population actually lives with something. So we’re talking about 20 million new infections every year.
Leisa: That’s tremendous market.
Ursula: It’s huge and I think that we all have an awareness about it but don’t necessarily know that the numbers are as epidemic as they are.
Leisa: You’ve been in business I know since December, are you still fundraising, are you totally established or what does your model look like financially?
Ursula: We actually started early last year. So we built out our model, we launched sales in December and now we’ve been raising around to scale.
Leisa: What are your plans for scaling myLABbox?
Ursula: When you start a business we’re looking to establish a market and to prove the market and – you know, in small channel – and that’s what we did. We had an early investor here in Houston, Houston Health Ventures, worked with them to get our business off the ground and we’ve proved the market. So we’re selling month over month one and a half times per month and now we’re in a position where it’s activating all our channels. We’re looking at media opportunities and bringing on a PR company and a media partner and strategic partnerships now to amplify what we’ve done. So you start with a little trickling of sales to prove the market and now it’s about amplifying them.
Leisa: And what about production; who’s producing the product for you?
Ursula: So it’s all existing FDA approved technology that we have essentially created an innovative process and platform for delivery. So everything is existing medical devices that we’ve included in our kits. Literally it’s a swab or a urine collection cup; so just as you would go into a lab, they would send you into the bathroom to collect the sample, we’ve developed it so that you can actually do that yourself at home.
Leisa: So tell me why I want to do it at home.
Ursula: It’s privacy. So what we found is that people don’t want to have this embarrassing conversation with their doctor, they don’t want to make an appointment and go down and do the walk of shame at a lab or clinic. And it’s also about this is a private thing and something that I don’t necessarily want to share with my doctor or share with an insurance provider for example. So this is something you can essentially do all off the grid yourself and really take control of your own health.
Leisa: So how much does it cost?
Ursula: It starts at $73.00.
Leisa: So when you say starts, what does that mean? What do I get for $73.00?
Ursula: So if you wanted to for example just do a test – so if you thought that maybe you had been exposed to one thing then you could do a single test or if you did our full suite of tests that would go up from $145.00 to $189.00.
Leisa: Okay, well that’s good to know. So which ones can you test for?
Ursula: So right now we do over 70% of the most common infections that you would test for in a lab. So that’s Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, what we call Trick which is not commonly tested for but it’s very, very common and HIV.
Leisa: And are there plans to expand that?
Ursula: Yes, so we essentially want to be able to do a full panel. So we’re doing the most common infections right now but doing a full panel of testing and then also really looking at all kinds of discrete home testing; so related to the sexual health vertical but also diabetes and anything essentially that you would want to do on a regular basis in the privacy of your own home.
Leisa: So there’s tremendous opportunities for growth for you because before this you had to go to the doctor and you had to look him in the eye, which I think is difficult for a lot of people so now at least they can do this in the privacy of their own home.
Leisa: Okay Ursula, paint a picture for me; 3 years from now what does myLABbox look like?
Ursula: Well we definitely see this being a global opportunity so we’re not just talking about the U.S., we’re talking about something that is in the top 5 disease categories all over the world. So just in the sexual health category we see this as being something that we would expand into Europe and Asia and many places around the world and also into expanded verticals; so really looking as I said into other opportunities where a p[private, discrete home solution can fair well.
Leisa: It seems to me that there’s not a huge barrier to entry with this product, are you concerned about competition?
Ursula: We aren’t and there are definitely players that are in the space that have built businesses off of STD testing and they’re all essentially referring users to labs for testing. There isn’t any other player in this space that’s really been focused on the home testing model. And where we really see our motes is all of our strategic partnerships, so it’s really being integrated into our health organizations and our dating site partnerships where we see this being the prime opportunity where somebody can’t come in and necessarily take that space. So it’s really development in the IP that we built from that.
Leisa: Thank you so much Ursula and good luck.
Ursula: Thank you for inviting me.
Leisa: That wraps up my interview with Ursula Hessenflow, Founder and CEO of myLABbox. This is The BusinessMakers Show, brought to you by Comcast Business, built for business.
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