Written by Andrew Seale
It’s hard not to catch the pain-points of running a pharmacy when it’s the world you were raised in.
“My aunt and father were pharmacists and owned pharmacies, my uncle was a pharmaceutical executive,” says Amir Motahari, adding that he’s sent plenty of time behind the counter as well.
So it makes sense that the University of Toronto human biology would go into the family business. Albeit, his is a different riff off his relatives’ approach: in 2015, Motahari along with Victor Chen Li, and Maxim Antipin, co-founded SwiftPad, a mobile app for pharmacists offering a suite of tools enabling everything from e-prescriptions to refill requests, communicating with patients directly and sending reminders.
“We work with independent pharmacies providing a white-label mobile application for the pharmacy itself that they can give to the patients,” he says. “Independents are getting hurt… (SwiftPad) empowers independent and individual pharmacists to gain the competitive edges they need,” he says.
Especially in an evolving space where pharmacists are starting to empty digital tools to engage customers both from a compliance and communication perspective. Motahari and co are looking to de-fragment the point-of-care industry, to better streamline the process between getting a prescription and receiving the necessary medicine and care.
“There’s a lot of opportunities to improve the existing workflow within the pharmacy itself and improve communication and engagement with patients,” he says.
From the beginning, SwiftPad has leaned heavily on the Toronto startup community. All of the company’s team of ten come from the University of Toronto and the startup came out of the University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTest) incubator – in partnership with MaRS Innovation.
Currently they’re set up in the IBM Innovation Centre.
“We’ve been awarded Ontario Centres of Excellence grants and that was only possible because we were in the right space – the right ecosystem – both in the university of Toronto and at the IBM Innovation Centre,” he says. “The Toronto community is so tight-knit, everyone knows everyone (and) they’re always able to help entrepreneurs that want to solve a big problem.”
They’ve also found no shortage of role models along the way to draw inspiration. Motahari points to an early event where Wealthsimple’s Michael Kitchen was chatting about the company he was trying to build.
“A year later, they were a huge company… to see only 10 people at that meet-up where there’s 1,000 now, it shows where the community is headed and how we’re progressing,” he says. “Companies like Shopify, Wealthsimple, WattPad… they really set a good example for what Toronto should be, should become – and they’re a role model for us and a lot of other entrepreneurs in the space.”
Photos: Cameron Bartlett (www.snappedbycam.com)