Q&A: A timely pivot to meeting medical supply needs

Today, we talk to Phil Leahy, founder of the online medical supplies marketplace MedCart. Prior to MedCart, Leahy ran a successful international events company Retail Global Events before the COVID-19 pandemic effectively halted the operations of many businesses, especially public-facing ones such as his. Leahy and his team took the opportunity to pivot during this period, focusing their efforts on providing medical providers and other health institutions with the supplies they need as they face an unprecedented medical emergency.

ISB: As you were pivoting from your international events business, why did you decide to choose going into the medical supplies marketplace with MedCart?

PL: As the pandemic deepened, I was talking with Jason Wyatt from Marketplacer and we identified the PPE challenge faced by hospitals and staff. We realised there was an opportunity to streamline the way in which the supplies were sourced and delivered. The only solution available was an outdated classified model. We partnered with Marketplacer to lunch MedCart to help connect buyers and sellers.

ISB: What aspects of your international events business were you able to successfully bring over to MedCart?

PL: We deployed existing team members with sales experience to reach out to suppliers to onboard onto the marketplace. Our experience as an international events business has always been focused on the delivery of the world’s best education in eCommerce. Our understanding of eCommerce provided the successful platform of the knowledge base required for the undertaking.

ISB: What has been the most challenging aspect for you in setting up MedCart and how did you overcome it?

PL: We successfully launched MedCart in June 2021, however, payment providers refused to give us an account due to the nature of the products and the shock of COVID. We finally were able to be transactional in October 2021 with integration into PayPal.

ISB: Given the current environment, how do you ensure that demand for medical supplies is addressed as much as possible?

PL: Marketplaces provide competition. A diversity of suppliers ensures that customers have a wide range of price and quality to choose from that includes multi state despatch points so faster delivery can match demand.

ISB: How has been the reception thus far, especially from the suppliers themselves?

PL: The response has been fantastic. We have many suppliers who claim that MedCart is their #1 sales channel. As we are B2B & B2C orders can range from $9.95 one order we received in November of $126,000.

ISB: What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned in your MedCart journey that you can share to other business owners who might also be considering pivoting their business?

PL: Always remember that you need time with any new business to discover its actual “Why?”. When you launch, you understand what you think the business may be, however over time through the study of data and by talking to your customers, you can refine what the business’s “why” is. For example, we learned quickly that our Australian based phone support was a winner with our customers, and it needed to be central to our offering.