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From hair loss to unicorn: Thirty Madison CEO Steve Gutentag on the company’s growth

Gabriel Perna | November 17, 2021

Thirty Madison has defied expectations on its way to achieving certified “unicorn status,” valued at more than $1 billion after raising $140 million in June.  

Few could have imagined this pathway when the company started four years ago with a singular, direct-to-consumer hair loss brand that was geared towards men with premature baldness. But the plans and goals were always much grander than the one brand, says Thirty Madison Co-Founder and CEO Steven Gutentag.  

“We saw hair loss as a building block. The first step. It was not the be-all, end-all. What our aspiration always has been is to be the premiere health care company for people living with chronic conditions,” Gutentag tells Health Evolution in an exclusive interview. “That’s what we’ve set out to be since the beginning.” 

The company expanded to four brands, which are focused on hair loss, allergies, migraines, and gastrointestinal health. Around each of those brands is a care model that uses specialist visits, ongoing care management, and personalized treatments and medications to drive “meaningful outcomes and better patient experiences” Gutentag says. 

“I don’t think there is a company like ours. The reason being is we’ve married the consumer centricity of direct-to-consumer health care brands that are focused on a more transactional access to medications and services…with the outcome centricity of the Livongos, Teladocs, and Omadas [Health] of the world,” Gutentag says.  

The numbers back up his confidence. Along with a threefold increase in its staff, the company’s revenue tripled in 2020 and it has since surpassed an annual revenue run-rate of $100 million. It has 250,000 active customers, according to a Bloomberg article. This ability to scale comes from the company’s investment into technology and a centralized infrastructure, Gutentag says.   

Going hybrid  

Until now, Thirty Madison has been offering a virtual experience and telehealth for its customers. Last week that changed when the company announced that its hair transplant brand, Keeps, will be opening an in-person clinic in 2022 in New York City. Gutentag says it will be the first of what will become a number of in-person clinics and in-person experiences.  

“While we think that virtual care is not only sufficient, and in many instances a better way to serve patients, some people are going to need an in-person experience,” Gutentag says. “Similar to how we used hair loss to test our model in a virtual environment, we see this as a steppingstone on how we bring our care model into supporting patients both online and offline, all along their patient journey.” 

He says that the decision came at the request from many of its patients. The company previewed the offering for customers and had enough people express interest that it reached its first month’s goal within the day.  

Over the next few years, Gutentag says he wants the company to continue to focus on supporting chronic care patients on their journey. He expects most interactions will remain virtual. But as Thirty Madison broadens its offerings to manage more chronic conditions, there will be an increased hybrid model with virtual, clinic, and at-home interactions. 

“We’re being thoughtful about how we serve the most amount of patients in a way that will drive the best outcomes. It might be a brick-and-mortar location. It might be a partnership. It might be someone’s home. It might be someone coming to someone’s home. The central idea is how to support that patient as they manage one or more chronic conditions,” Gutentag says.   

Sitting in a unique position  

The company has recently brought on a few notable executives including Matthew Mengerink from Uber and YouTube to serve as CTO and Michelle Carnahan from Sanofi and Eli Lilly to serve as President. It has also hired executives from prominent payer, provider, life sciences, and technology organizations to go along with those two. The recruitment of an eclectic C-Suite signifies the uniqueness of a disruptor-type organization like Thirty Madison, which may not fit into the traditional buckets of payer, provider, or life sciences.  

“We want to be the premiere health care company for people with chronic conditions and to drive forward access with better outcomes. To do that you have to a good experience for patients, which means you have to understand the consumer. You have to drive affordability through scale, technology is a critical piece to that,” Gutentag says. “Too often, you have consumer, health care, and technology people, but instead of talking to each other, they are talking amongst themselves. We try to strike the right balance between the three to bring us forward.”  

This mix of tech, health care, and consumer talent has allowed the company to sit in a unique space in the larger industry. To this point, in an interview with STAT, Carnahan said the company’s competitors are “everybody and nobody at once.” As such, this unique classification, Gutentag says, allows the company to find common ground with the incumbent health system, whereas other disruptors might work against it.  

“We are building this for people with chronic care conditions. What that means is we want to work with providers, pharma, payers, and others in the health system in service of people with chronic conditions. The winners of health care in the future, and the ones who will have the most impact on how patients receive care, are going to be the ones who work with the system and not outside it. They have to figure out ways to bring the system to their model in service of patients,” Gutentag says, pointing to its various partnerships with providers, payers, and employer organizations. “Our strategy has been and continues to be, ‘Let’s work with other folks.’”  

Hero image credit: Unsplash/Ben White

About the Author

Gabriel Perna, Senior Manager, Digital Content

Gabriel Perna is the Senior Manager of Digital Content at Health Evolution. He brings 10+ years of experience in covering the intersection of health care and business. Previously, he was at Chief Executive, Physicians Practice and Healthcare Informatics. You can reach him via email at gabrielp@healthevolution.com or on Twitter at @GabrielSPerna