Worry about mail order business slimming brands Juniper and Pilot by Australian doctors has not dampened investors’ appetites with its parent telehealth company, Eucalyptus, raising $50 million at a $520 million valuation.
The round was backed by several existing Eucalyptus investors, including Blackbird Ventures, Woolworths VC fund W23 and US investor Mary Meeker’s BOND Capital.
Previous raises by Eucalyptus, founded in 2019 by Tim Doyle, Benny Kleist, Alexey Mitko and Charlie Gearside, include a Series A of $8 million in May 2020, $30 million in a Series B in July 2021 and $60 million 15 months ago in a Series C in January 2022. The company also counts Airtree among its investors.
The company is the 2020s tech edition of long-established treatment brands like the Advanced Medical Institute (known for “Want longer lasting sex?”) and Advanced Hair Clinic (“Yeah! Yeah!”).
Eucalyptus sells online medical products across four major demographic brands: Pilot (men’s health, including weight and hair loss, erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation), Juniper (female weight loss and menopause), Kin (fertility), and Software (prescription skin care). ). The company also started a sex toy brand, Normal, which it has since unloaded.
Rival brand Mosh operates in the same space with a similar online consultation model.
And much like AMI’s bright yellow and red billboards offer “longer lasting sex”Eucalyptus and Mosh have faced controversy over the business model and marketing of their products.
ABC TVs Media Watch highlighted Eucalyptus and Pilot earlier this month after TV station Seven aired a story about former AFL player Dale Thomas, a pilot ambassador, in its news bulletin in a story about his weight loss that was criticized by viewers as an infomercial.
The pilot’s tagline is “Men’s Health, Delivered Differently” and offers potential patients the opportunity to “connect with Australian doctors and get proven treatments online”. The homepage features testimonials such as Mr Jones saying “I’m getting hard now and staying hard…” and Jodie, married 22 years, saying “I really started to miss our sex life. He found Pilot and now it’s like the spark has returned.”
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has expressed concern over Juniper, the women’s weight loss program, which prescribes daily injections of medicine after a quiz and textual consultation with a doctor.
The program costs $13 a day for prescription medication, Saxenda, which is approved by the TGA to aid in weight loss, in addition to follow-up consultations and health coaching.
Advertising of pharmaceuticals to consumers is prohibited under Australian law and the Therapeutic Goods Administration has been monitoring social media for possible unlawful advertising of therapeutic goods, but recently told SBS it couldn’t confirm whether it would take a closer look at companies like Juniper and Mosh. In the past 9 months, the TGA has asked that more than 3,500 weight loss ads be removed. There is no suggestion that Eucalyptus or Mosh were involved in any of those incidents.
Eucalyptus co-founder and CEO Tim Doyle interviewed by VC investor Blackbird and was asked how Eucalyptus has developed as a brand.
“Our ambition has increased. Covid, as well as the impact we’ve had on patients’ lives, has shifted our focus from transactional care to much more comprehensive and in-depth care around chronic disease,” he said.
“One of our women’s healthcare brands, Juniper, offers a holistic program to people struggling with their weight worldwide, and has 20 points of contact between patients and their healthcare team (doctors, dietitians, health coaches, patient support) in the very first month.”
Asked about the debate over telehealth and online prescribing being unsafe, Doyle said: “I think the fear around safety and telehealth ultimately stems from a lack of understanding about how these platforms actually work. It seems people associate all telemedicine with the fast scripting models out there. The reality is much more nuanced than that.”