Alto Pharmacy raises $250M from Softbank and others to reinvent pharmacy experience
Updated: Apr 11
Two former Facebook engineers put pharmacy care at your fingertips and challenge Amazon for dominance in the e-pharmacy space.
We first met Alto Pharmacy founders Mattieu Gamache-Asselin and Jamie Karraker in the Spring of 2016 at a tiny, run-down pharmacy in San Francisco’s Mission District. Our mutual friend and investor, Justin Kan, initially connected us to the two who were developing a company that was changing the way people get their prescriptions. This company, at that time using the name "ScriptDash", was creating a delivery service that focused on automating a universally irritating process, getting a prescription filled out. We were intrigued with this idea behind the company, as well as its mission and the vision of Karraker and Gamache-Asselin.
One intriguing aspect of Alto’s investment value lies in the sheer size of the industry it is trying to overtake. The pharmaceutical industry is a massive industry worth $250 billion and is rapidly growing, so we are glad to have our foot in this space at an early stage. Our investment team found the story behind Alto's founding to be very compelling and reflective of the merits of the founders. Before beginning the process of starting their own pharmacy, the pair observed a local pharmacy in San Francisco for a number of months in order to learn the ins and outs of the pharmacy business. In these months, Karraker and Gamache-Asselin were pleasantly surprised to see a large advantage of local pharmacies, more personalized care for customers, a concept they have not forgotten about. Their hard-working attitudes and willingness to spare no expense show us the Alto founders are the right team to change the pharmaceutical industry. After meeting the two and exchanging a few rounds of emails, we knew it was time to back Alto Pharmacy.
Reinventing the Community Pharmacy
Today’s pharmacy experience is broken, but Alto, a digital pharmacy accessible through your phone, aims to put patients first with personalized same-day medication delivery.
We all have gone through the painstaking experience of trying to get a prescription filled. The problems with yesterday's traditional pharmacy experience are long lines at the counter, getting hassled by insurance companies, and high costs. Alto has eliminated all of this, successfully streamlining and improving patient and provider experiences. From patient onboarding to prescription refills to insurance billing, Alto does everything for the user, taking all the work out of the hands of customers. The company has done a fantastic job by working seamlessly behind the scenes and using its software expertise to make a more efficient and better workflow process. Alto has licensed pharmacists on staff around the clock to help optimize their care and answer any questions patients have. As a full-service pharmacy, Alto can fill all meds, including fertility, HIV/AIDS, dermatology, and other specialty prescriptions. The company gives patients same-day delivery at the comfort of their homes while also using the latest technology to deliver virtual health consultations and other virtual services. All of this combines to create a superior experience compared to that of big, chain pharmacies, giving us the feel-good experience that we miss from community pharmacies.
Amazon (via the acquisition of PillPack) has been trying to disrupt the pharmacy industry, and other competitors like Capsule, ZipDrug, BlinkHealth are vying for market share as well. The main differentiator of Alto is this white-glove, high-level of care services and bringing that good old-feeling of community pharmacy to the modern era, as Matt said during a Bloomberg interview with Emily Chang.
Alto started in the Bay Area and quickly proved the merit behind its business model. In fact, a single Alto distribution location covers the same geographic area as about 400 chain pharmacy locations with its free same-day delivery service. Thanks to its strong growth, Alto has now expanded to Las Vegas, Seattle, and Denver. With last year's investment from Softbank, Alto is again expanding to more markets with Houston, New York, Dallas, and more metros still coming. A single Alto distribution location covers the same geographic area as about 400 chain pharmacy locations with its free same-day delivery service.
A few of Alto's accolades
Named as one of Forbes 2021 best startups in America
Top 25 Consumer HealthTech Executives of 2020
Ozy's 25 Rising Stars to Track in 2020
LinkedIn Top Startups 2020
Largest San Francisco Employers - SF Business Times
Finalist of Best Consumer Wellness - UCSF Digital Health Awards
And many more...
Way to go Matt and Jamie!
Check out Alto's career page if you are interested to join a fast-growing health tech startup company!