[ Article by Iain Martin originally published on Forbes.com on 30th March 2021 ]
London-based men’s healthcare startup Manual has raised $30 million in a Series A round to help fuel its growth internationally, and the launch of new products. The business founded by George Pallis, Deliveroo and Transferwise’s former marketing director, provides men with medical advice about hair loss, and sexual health, and wellness guides.
Manual currently operates in the United Kingdom and launched in Brazil last year and had plans to expand further into Europe and Latin America, according to Pallis. "The money will go primarily on continuing the vision of becoming the global destination for men's health, expanding to more geographies, and to go deeper into solving problems for men," said Pallis in an interview with Forbes.
“The lens we look through is how can we bring this to as many men as possible, but we will define that over the next year—but the considerations are in mind are the local regulation and the market opportunity,” said Pallis.
Manual has grown through the pandemic with men becoming more health-conscious but Pallis said the business had not experienced the spike in activity seen by many e-commerce businesses. “We have grown 4X year on year but not because of Covid,” said Pallis. “Of course we experienced the overall trend of digital transition that all online businesses have benefited from, but it has not been a big outlier like other verticals—but people are more sensitive about their health and we operate in a space that tries to improve that.”
The startup did not disclose its valuation and raised funds from existing investors Cherry Ventures, Felix Capital and also tapped American private equity fund Sonoma Brands, and beauty and wellness investor Waldencast, and family office GISEV. The startup, which pitches itself as a wellness guide more than a prescription-slinging digital pharmacy, raised $6 million in seed funding in January 2019.
The telehealth market has exploded during the pandemic and Manual is pitched against American rivals Hims & Hers, which listed via a SPAC in January, and Ro, which raised a $500 million round in March, as well as London-based startup Numan in convincing men to swap a meeting with the family doctor for a discrete, digital appointment to talk about hair loss, or sexual health, or erectile dysfunction.