[Startup Interview] James Adebisi, Founder, Oruis Medical, Nigeria
Orius Medical is a Nigerian health startup that provides mental care and support through psychotherapy and mental health education. The startup’s founder James Adebisi explains.
Tell us about your startup
Oruis Medical is healthcare company that provides mental health services in the form of psychological assessment, psychotherapy, and mental health education.
Who founded Oruis Medical and what are their professional backgrounds?
The startup was started by James Adedayo Adebisi. He is a neurophysiologist, Product Designer, and mental health advocate.
James has half a decade of experience working in government healthcare facilities and private establishments. He has cared for psyschiatric patients, and individuals living with neuronal and mental health disorders.
What would you say are the dynamics that shape the healthcare industry?
Mental health care is a relatively young sector of the Nigerian healthcare industry. This is largely due to the cultural beliefs that mental illness is fundamentally a "taboo", and a "spiritual matter". Also, there is the issue of misinformation and illiteracy.
The mental health industry is a large market, as national surveys project that more than 50 million of the nation's population suffers from at least 1 mental disorder.
Despite these facts, only a few mental health companies or businesses are active, and even fewer are tech-enabled. This is due to the fact that cultural beliefs and low penetration of proper mental health education is still prevalent, so, investors do not see the need to develop the sector.
The COVID-19 pandemic has however changed the outlook of the industry and has brought the spotlight to mental health in Nigeria, other developing countries, and the world.
Why did you start Oruis Medical? what opportunities did you see?
Orius Medical started in July 2021, as a community of mental health professionals who provided free therapy services to people who needed help.
Having conducted a secondary research from existing online data, the initial team also did a survey of about 200 people to find out their knowledge of mental health, and preference when it came to how they would like to receive therapy. The survey revealed that more than 90% of participants preferred online therapy to having to go to the therapist's office. About 64% did not have proper knowledge of what mental health actually means. And 96% felt that traditional therapy was too expensive for their income level.
This results opened our eyes to the opportunities available in the mental health market. There were only 2 well-known therapy companies in Nigeria at the time, and a few more who were non-profits. Also, the COVID-19 pandemic increased stress levels worldwide, there was now more need for mental support, and the media was beginning to focus on the problem. It felt like a no-brainer to explore the market.
What problem or problems does Oruis Medical solve?
According to the Workd Health Organization, 3 in 10 Nigerians suffer from mental illnesses. And mental illness is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In addition, there is a high rate of mental health illiteracy in developing countries, leading many to stigmatize sufferers, and ignore early warning signs or severe mental disorders.
We at Orius Medical are solving this problem by providing an affordable, flexible and private way of securing mental care. In addition, we also provide mental health education to help increase mental health awareness and curb stigmatization. We achieve this by offering online-based, on-demand psychotherapy at a subsidized rate, and educating the public on mental health via our seminars, podcast, and conferences.
What gives Oruis Medical the competitive edge?
Our clients can choose their preferred therapist directly from our portal and schedule sessions without delay. Most mental health companies require you to first have an assessment and then choose someone for you. This way you may not get someone you connect with enough to open up to, resulting in patient care downtime.
Also, traditional therapy costs am arm and a leg (about 20,000 - 50,000 naira), for a single session. That's higher than the minimum wage in Nigeria. We do not charge for your first session, and you're only charged for retainership.
Who are your customers?
Everyone needs mental care and support from time to time. And both kids and young adults need to be educated on proper mental hygiene. Specifically though, we are targeting people within the age range of 13-45.
What does your company need in order to grow?
An experienced CMO
What is your growth strategy?
Firstly, strategic partnerships. We intend to form strategic partnerships with High Schools and institutions of higher learning to provide mental health services to their students.
Also, we will be doing more in advertisement to ensure we reach our target audience.
In which markets are you looking to establish your presence?
Orius Medical aims to penetrate the entire African Market, starting from Nigeria. Eventually, we intend to grow into an intercontinental brand, providing mental health services to anyone, from anywhere. We want to have served 1 million people by the year 2030.
What are your plans for the coming 12 months?
We plan to focus more on mental health education in the year 2023. Our assessment of our activities this year (2022) have shown that a lot more people need awareness on mental health.
We intend to partner with more schools, to help reach more people. Our goal is to educate 100,000 people (online and in-person), on mental health within the next 5 years.