From Optimus Healthcare to 24PAWS

Years ago I traded life as head of production with a large ad agency for life as a business owner with a small high-tech studio that served two types of client: 1) ad agencies (complex, often fast-turnaround work) and 2) small businesses (providing a level of agency service, able to add creativity to production). Income from 1) subsidised my work on 2) which was perfect.

When my step-daughter was injured in a car accident I sold the studio to focus with her on recovery. One of my favourite clients asked me to continue doing their medical research and writing which led to working with holistic vet Dr Chris Piper on information for his nutraceutical compounds. He had created a brand which I suggested be changed to Great&Small. It’s a brand that has stood the test of time and I still love its brightness, positivity and purpose.

One of the pharmacists I worked with was a veterinary medicine compounding specialist. We knew we could bring something special to vets and specialists throughout the country by increasing the prescribing options for their individual patients, and for this we developed Optimus Healthcare Ltd. While Monterrey took a trip back to Canada to stock up on supplies and take a break with family before Optimus began trading, there was plenty for me to do back here – finding premises, getting them fitted out, registering the pharmacy, creating custom software and developing our brand.

Our initial marketing involved a fast-penetrating transdermal gel and a hypertensive cat called Max.

Within days of sending this info-leaflet out we had our first orders. In the 1st year we worked with over 100 practices, providing customised medicines in tiny accurate dose capsules, gels, creams, solutions, suspensions and flavoured bases (including large amounts of molasses for horse patients).

Patient outcomes were a lovely elixir for all the hours, resources and devotion we put in. We received inspiring feedback from vets, specialists, vet clients and also from government officials and the international compounding centres organisation that the pharmacy was accepted as a member of.

When my co-director wanted to move back into general pharmacy we looked for a pharmacist who Monterrey could train and sell her shareholding to. Not an easy task. While we eventually found the perfect person, one of his conditions became 100% ownership. After 3 years it was ever so hard for me to leave Optimus behind but it wouldn’t exist today had we not given it that strong start and then been pragmatic for its future.

With Optimus I learned a valuable lesson. I wasn’t the pharmacist, so despite massive effort in other respects and doing a specialised course in compounding so I knew the processes involved, I couldn’t do our core work – I couldn’t (of course) go into the lab and compound. With 24PAWS I do the core work with the small groups and run the business. Working with dogs; studying dog evolution and psychology; supporting owners to manage their dogs’ well-being; and creating a venture that has a lovely purpose and effect is highly motivating, as is the boundless enthusiasm of my 24PAWS co-director, Scottie.

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