Under The Hood: Will from Sons

Insights from the founder of Sons: A high growth telehealth D2C from Europe

Under The Hood: Will from Sons

Will's the co-founder and CEO of Sons, a tele-health D2C offering hair loss treatments for men.

Welcome Will! So why did you start Sons in the first place? 

I started Sons with one of my best mates: Adrian. Adrian’s a doctor of science and has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for the past 10 years. I have a more commercial background, predominantly in Business Management and M&A within the food and beverage industry. 

The two of us went to a clinic for hair loss prevention in the summer of 2018. We were sharing our experiences a week or 2 after that and both found the experience extremely overpriced, uninformative and unenjoyable. 

Adrian was able to identify that we could source and license the clinically proven products for male hair loss, and it was my idea to create a brand that guys would relate to and an end-to-end model which would better service men seeking support.

So we spent about a year sourcing products which were clinically proven and backed by science, and built our telehealth and cloud pharmacy infrastructure that underpins the direct-to-consumer tech element. 

And at the start of 2020, we launched with four products in a combination of plans for treating hair loss & have expanded into other products like gut health, beard treatments, brain health and immunity since then. 

How did you get your first 1,000 customers? 

Mostly Google ads for those first couple orders, at least. 

It’s one of those channels where you can prove your concept at a very basic level in those early stages. So having success on that channel really gave us the confidence to build out more of the marketing mix & invest in new channels later on. 

For expansion into new categories, do you have a set playbook? 

First we start by evaluating whether the category is even worth expanding into. There, we try to identify a consumer problem where conditions are under treated and consumers under serviced; we then look at market size - and finally after that, we look to see whether we can develop clinically proven products that fit into our Telehealth model. 

Once we know these things, we work with our existing engaged audience to get feedback and reviews. Once we have enough traction with our own customer base, only then are we able to fully push the new product range. 

The Sons complete offering

Cool. And let's say things are going well with “hair loss”. How do you double down on that? 

For one - we just go deeper with what’s already working. So whether it’s TV, podcasts, or paid ads - once we know what works - we just spend more on those channels. And then there’s international expansion too: We’re in 3 European territories now for our hair loss offering. 

What’s been the biggest learning in expanding abroad? 

We play in a regulated space. So building your infrastructure to go into these markets takes a lot of investment. But the payout is there. Germany, for example, is obviously a huge market opportunity for us and we're excited about it. 

Talk to me about retention. How have you experimented with improving that?

Getting guys into a routine so they can see results is such a critical part of the business. So making sure that it's easy for them to manage their plan via improving our tech infrastructure has been key. 

The other piece that helps drive retention is a really great customer success team. From a headcount perspective, that’s where we invest heavily. That team is focused on driving real conversations with customers over the phone. It’s the best way to gauge if customers are satisfied from the treatments, and to feed those insights back into the business. 

Do you have doctors on payroll too?

Yes absolutely. Once the conversations get into medical questions - the CS team passes customers onto a doctor. We’ve done a great job however of developing a really robust medical-led content library which answers a tone of the customer queries even before they meet with a doctor. 

What’s the stack of Sons? What’s the tech infrastructure?

We’re in constant evolution, launching a new site in the next few months which will be largely custom built. We are currently on Woocommerce. We’re making this switch because we have a lot of custom build needs due to the complexity of the telehealth product. A platform like Magento will allow us to have even more flexibility. 

And beyond that, we’re using Zendesk for customer support, Slack for internal communications and then Wayflyer for revenue based financing. 

What’s been the experience like on Wayflyer

They’ve been a great partner for Sons. We leverage their financing tools to double down on activities like marketing and stock when things are working. You get a quicker payback - so that’s been super impactful and we'll hopefully continue to work with them in the future.

Last question: What’s your key to success so far on Sons? 

I would say brand and product. 

Sons was started from a lived experience, we are obsessed with the articulated and unarticulated health problems guys have. Our brand aims to meet guys where they are, speak to them as peers and motivate them to take action. Then its all about the products, our products are clinically proven and deliver results in 9 out of 10 guys. 

Thanks Will - Excited about to keep up with the ongoing expansion!