Adam talks about the origins of Phlo, his role, how each day is different, and shares his personal motivations and vision for the future of Phlo!
I have a varied background as I started my career with an international law firm as a corporate law solicitor, however very early on I recognised that a legal career was not for me. So, some people call me a ‘recovering lawyer’ as the skills you learn never quite leave you. I was then fortunate enough to be accepted onto the Saltire Foundation Fellowship Programme with Entrepreneurial Scotland to complete an Executive MBA at Babson College in the USA. This was a gamechanger for me as not only did it provide a bridge between my corporate law background and business, but I also had the pleasure of meeting some of the most inspiring people who have become close friends. In fact, my Phlo story starts here as I met CEO and Founder Nadeem Sarwar on the programme, and we’ve remained friends ever since.
On my return to Scotland, I joined an innovative distillery called Arbikie who had recently launched their business and was part of the senior management team helping grow the company into an international drinks business.
I first met Nadeem Sarwar (founder and CEO of Phlo) as part of the Saltire Foundation Fellowship Programme where we studied together at Babson College in the USA. Nadeem and I became good friends during this period and upon our return to Scotland, we stayed in touch as we both went our separate ways professionally. I remember on our return to Scotland in 2015 that Nadeem was inspired by our time in the States to implement the advanced Pharmacy solutions he witnessed there and bring them to the UK. Nadeem did what a lot of people fail to do when they see an opportunity and executed on his idea. I was a cheerleader from the side-lines as he took his idea and turned it into a reality.
Back in 2018 Nadeem was gearing up for the launch of Phlo and asked whether I’d be interested in joining Phlo and helping him launch the business. I could see the potential of Phlo as a disruptive force for good in the Pharmacy sector and the uniqueness of the opportunity to fundamentally change the sector was an offer I couldn’t turn down. I joined in early 2019 and I have enjoyed every minute since.
No day is the same at Phlo. It can be incredibly busy, and you have to be able to spin several plates at once. My role touches on most areas of the business and I love how varied the work can be. I may start the day looking at our marketing strategy, then contribute to our product roadmap, assist Nadeem with raising finance and investor relations, developing new areas of the business and implementing our hiring strategy. It’s a real privilege to be able to work with so many talented people across the company which makes my job incredibly rewarding. Every day is a school day and I love this aspect of the role.
It’s hard to pin down the part of my job that I love the most. I love executing on ideas and seeing those ideas work in practice. I love the challenge of growing a business and disrupting one of the most established sectors in healthcare with a new and innovative product. If I were to narrow it down it would be the following:
Amazing people: I have the privilege of working with some incredibly talented and dedicated people here at Phlo. We are truly blessed with the people we have recruited so far. I get a real kick out of seeing the team grow and develop. In particular, I’d like to give a special mention to our Pharmacy team. Under incredible pressure brought on by Covid-19, they are relentless in their dedication to providing amazing care to our patients. Throughout this whole period, they have been working on the frontline to ensure our patients receive the best possible care. It’s been inspiring to experience this first-hand.
Feedback from patients: When you have a tough day but then receive incredible feedback from our patients about the impact our service has had, this is the best form of motivation. Knowing that you have helped provide a little certainty in an otherwise uncertain time is a great feeling.
This is testament to the hard work everyone has put in over the past 18 months to get to where we are and the best part is, we’ve only just begun.
Phlo soft launched in late 2019, however, it wasn’t until 2020 that we began seeing traction. Then Covid-19 happened, and the world changed. Our service was not only about convenience to a patient it was also a potential lifeline for those self-isolating and reducing their movements due to the virus.
We very quickly moved a fully remote working system (barring our wonderful Pharmacy team) and scaled the team from 12 people to nearly 40 by the end of the year. The whole team has adapted really well under challenging circumstances. Scaling during a crisis, onboarding so many new team members and ensuring our service levels were maintained have been challenging. We have learned a lot from this period, and I can’t wait to see the progression of the company over the next 12 months.
As a healthcare provider, we want to empower our patients to easily access their medication when and where they need it. The Pharmacy sector has not adopted technology in the way patients require and demand from their Pharmacy provider. The vision for Phlo is to realise our “three pillars” in everything we do:
Read more about the three key pillars of Phlo.
Our innovative same-day delivery service that provides bookable slots for our patients with an average delivery time of 2 hours is a significant step-change for the online pharmacy sector. We want to set the benchmark in the sector as to what it means to be a convenient, reliable and patient first online Pharmacy. We are currently operating our same-day service in London and Birmingham and we want to roll this out across more major cities in the UK.
For me, I love solving problems and executing on ideas. There is no greater ‘job satisfaction’ than seeing the work you were part of having an immediate impact on the performance of the business and the experience our patients have when using Phlo.
In a high growth start-up environment, there is the opportunity to learn a vast range of skills and build up your experience quickly. It’s great to see the people I work with develop and gain confidence in their own abilities and taking advantage of opportunities that working at Phlo presents them which they may not necessarily have had if they worked in a large corporate environment.
On a personal note, I strive to be better than I was yesterday, if I keep doing that then I know I will continue to develop my skills and have a positive impact on the business. I read a quote from the American quarterback Tom Brady recently that sums up my attitude to working in a start-up:
“In the pursuit of perfection, the only thing that counts is the journey itself, the pursuit itself… there is no such thing as perfect, there is only the relentless pursuit of perfection”
Well, I suppose there is a split here between pre-COVID-19 and COVID-19 life! Pre-Covid – my main enjoyment in life was spending time with my family, girlfriend and friends, exploring new places, and enjoying the amazing food and drink scene here in Scotland. For all my sins I am Dunfermline Athletic fan, which is very much a love/hate relationship, however, I can’t wait to get back to East End Park and enjoy a matchday. I am also widely viewed as having the most consistent slice in amateur golf, which I love to do to clear my head!
Covid has changed everything on that front – my girlfriend and I are trying our best to work our way through MasterChef Australia which is incredibly addictive! I am really enjoying having more spare time to tackle my reading list which needed some attention. I recently came across the American author David Sedaris, who is a genius!
There’s no better time to become part of the Phlo community. Take control of your medication management and join the 1,000s of patients we’ve helped safely manage their medication.