Widecells Group PLC (LON:WDC) Chief Executive Officer João Andrade caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss CellPlan’s launch in Spain
Q1: Yet more exciting news for Widecells Group, congratulations. When we last spoke, we heard about your new partnership with White Apex but today you’ve today announced that CellPlan will be launched in Spain later this year. How are you going to achieve this?
A1: Well, this is a development from our strategy in the UK so in the UK markets we launched a couple of months ago, starting with one cord blood bank which is BioVault so we launched to Biovault’s clients first, new clients and existing clients that had already stored their stem cells.
Now, what we have done is we launched our e-commerce platform, just today, in the UK and what this means is that families in the UK that store with all the cord blood banks now have the ability to go into our e-commerce platform and purchase the insurance policy directly. So, it means that we have two distribution routes at the moment, one is working with cord blood banks and the other one is direct to families where we use the e-commerce platform.
Now, because this programme has been fully developed, it’s much easier for us to mirror the platform and this model and deploy it in other countries and this is exactly what’s happening in Spain. We have an agreement with a cord blood bank which is called Stem Cell Banco Celulas Madre, they have more than 2,000 clients already and growing quickly and at the same time, we’ll be launching the products to all the other families in Spain that have already stored their stem cells which is a much larger market than the UK and also to all new families that are now looking to store their baby’s umbilical cord. So, this is what we can expect from the Spanish market.
Q2: In terms of revenue, can you give us an idea of the impact of this expansion?
A2: What’s happened is, for example, in the UK we have large cord blood banks but mainly they receive stem cell samples from all over the regions, throughout Europe and the Middle East which means that the UK market doesn’t have a big adoption rate although it’s increasing quite a lot. Widecells will be, I think, one of the main drivers for that to happen but there are regions in Europe where the adoption rates are very high, even in Spain it’s more than 10% of families are storing their baby’s umbilical cord blood.
Now, that’s why we’re entering this region, there are tens of thousands of families in Spain that have already stored their baby’s umbilical cord blood which means much more than in the UK and by having the full programme and the model developed, we launched in Spain, we have one cord blood bank, we can sell directly to families, this can have a big impact in our revenues, that’s certainly what we expect.
Q3: Now, your rollout in Spain is being issued by both an agreement with a leading cord blood storage facility and through your e-commerce platform. Looking at the e-commerce platform, you’ve mentioned is fully live now in the UK, what exactly does the platform offer?
A3: Well, the platform, first and foremost, it helps to educate clients on the offering that we’re providing. Up until today, what will happen is families will be storing their baby’s umbilical cord blood stem cells and mostly not being aware of the treatment costs in case they needed to use the stem cells but also what diseases can be treated, where are the medical centres, who are the medical teams, what are the success rates for treatments using umbilical cord blood stem cells and this is all information that can be found in a digestible format in our e-commerce platform. It also allows the client to generate a quote instantly, conduct a health questionnaire and if they decide to purchase a policy, they can pay directly on the platform and we issue the insurance policy digitally, all of this is in a seamless process.
So, it’s a great technology and a great way for us to market the product directly to our target audience in a more cost-effective way. Thankfully, as an example, people like to post on Facebook that they had a baby and so on, it’s very easy to target families that have just recently had babies and that have most likely stored their baby’s umbilical cord blood.
Q4: As the platform is web-based I assume the roll-out of this is fairly low-cost and accordingly it’ll be critical in facilitating a wider global expansion?
A4: Yes, that’s a very good point. Again, if the model and the platform is ready for the UK, when we get nearer to Spain, considering that we have global reinsurance capacity through our partners and we also have the ability to provide expert medical opinion services and medical concierge services through our partnership with Best Doctors, our exclusive partnership with them, and knowing they have offices throughout the world.
We have reinsurance capacity, we have the capacity to manage claims and provide all services in any country, we have a fully developed e-commerce platform to deploy the product and the ability to enter into agreements with the insurance companies to act as a fronting insurer so we can enter any market fully licensed to operate.
So, this platform and this plan allows us to scale the business really quickly and that’s why, for example, the agreement with White Apex, you can see we are starting to talk to cord blood banks in the Middle East, in Asia, and also the insurance companies. It doesn’t require a big focus on the adaptation from market to market, that can be done more likely than if we do it a primitive way.
Q5: With this in mind then, are there any other geographies that Widecells Group currently have their eye on?
A5: Yes, in Europe, where we are focussed, but again with this agreement with White Apex, we have started to look in a couple of countries in the Middle East and a few countries in Asia where there are very large cord blood banks established for more than 10-15 years. So, these cord blood banks are not offering a stem cell insurance plan with medical concierge and so on so it’s a completely new product that we can bring to this region. We already have the agreement in Brazil with Hemocord and now with the platform fully developed, we can expect similar strategy to be implemented in Brazil at the beginning of next year.