Featured Startup Pitch: PharmAssistant has developed a ‘smart’ pill bottle to help reduce medication errors

By Editor May 13, 2014

Diogo Ortega, PharmAssistantBy Diogo Ortega, PharmAssistant co-founder and CEO

Elevator Pitch: Your pill bottle just got smarter! You’ll never forget about your medicines again, and you can also monitor if your loved ones are taking theirs and complying with their doctor’s prescription.

Product Description

We have upgraded the traditional pill bottle into what we call a ‘SmartBottle.’ The SmartBottle is a connected device that has a built-in visual and audible alarm. This alarm is activated when it’s time for you to take the medicines (or supplements) inside it. When you open the bottle, the alarm will be stopped and the dosage instructions will appear onscreen or be read by your smartphone or tablet (example: “Take now, two pills. Don’t forget to take them with food.”).

With our monitoring service, a family member or healthcare professional will be able to monitor, remotely, if the user is taking his or her medicines on time and according to the doctor’s prescription. They can even receive a notification if something goes wrong, like an ignored alarm or the device running out of battery.

Our app can also analyze medication patterns and detect any possible adverse interactions between the medicines you’re taking so that you can consult your physician about it.

PharmAssistant SmartBottleFounder’s Story

I began coding as a hobby when I was 15, and my first business came when I sold a website three years later. The idea behind PharmAssistant was born when my grandmother (who is almost 80 and completely independent), took by accident one pill intended to be taken by my grandfather. She ended up fine, but I realized that the medication routine of the senior citizens becomes increasingly complex as they get older, and threatens their independence.

I got the chance to develop this idea during a 24-hour hackathon in Lisbon (‘Appy Day BPI’) last December, and I ended up winning not only the first prize, but also the audience prize, in a total of $20,000 in cash. I used some of this cash to buy a trip to San Francisco, and came back confident that I wanted to make PharmAssistant a reality.

Market Opportunity

There are 7,000 deaths due to medication errors each year in the U.S. alone. The annual healthcare costs associated with such errors were approximately $3.5 billion (USD) in 2006.

There is a problem, and we’re addressing it.

On the other side, mHealth solutions are expected to generate $23 billion in revenue by 2017. Monitoring services will account for 65 percent of this market, and independent aging solutions will represent a market of $4.3 billion.

Marketing Strategy

We started a crowdfunding campaign in order to acquire our first customers, so that they can also contribute to the development of our product. You can preorder a SmartBottle right now at: http://preorder.pharmassistant.net.

At a later stage, we’ll consider strategic partnerships regarding distribution and institutional customers—hospitals, care homes, health insurers.

What Makes Us Unique

Our SmartBottle is the smarter and most innovative solution in the market to address medication adherence. The computing and communication of data is done by a smart and powerful device that we already own—a smartphone or tablet. This way, we are able to produce and sell our SmartBottles at a cheaper price. They have an opening sensor and a built-in replaceable coin battery that lasts for approximately one year. Plus, the setup is really simple and intuitive.

Our remote monitoring service is optional, and allows you to monitor remotely if your loved ones are complying with their doctor’s prescription.


Business Model

Our main source of revenue will be the sale of SmartBottles, both to final consumers and to businesses like hospitals, health insurers, and care homes.

In addition, we provide a remote monitoring service for a small monthly fee of $5, or $50 per year.

Current Needs

Currently, we’re conducting a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, and considering the possibility of raising a Seed round.

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PharmAssistant logoHeadquarters: Lisbon, Portugal

Founders: Diogo Ortega, Sofia Simoes de Almeida (CMO)

Investors: Bootstrapped

Year Founded: 2014

Indiegogo: indiegogo.com/projects/pharmassistant-never-forget-to-take-your-medicines-or-vitamins

AngelList: angel.co/pharmassistant

Twitter: @pharm_assistant

Facebook: facebook.com/pharmassistant.net

CrunchBase: crunchbase.com/organization/pharmassistant