Entrepreneur Series – Interview with Paul Mayberry

June 5, 2017

This month, we get to know Paul Mayberry, award-winning pharmacist, experienced entrepreneur and now CEO of Pilltime.co.uk, a revolutionary new pharmacy disruptor that enables Patients to received their medication delivered to their home in pre-sorted, easy to open pouches.

With over 25 years of experience in Pharmaceuticals, Paul shares his experiences and insights in growing both his Pharmaceutical businesses as well as his recent new business called Pilltime.co.uk.


  1. You have been in Pharmaceuticals your entire career, what where the initial reasons you picked this field?


As a teenager, I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. At a schools careers fair I said I was interested in Business & that my favourite subject was Chemistry. The careers advisor suggested I combine the two and go into Pharmacy, so here I am!


  1. It must have been challenging setting up your own business. What were your greatest concerns about becoming a business owner and how did you get over them?


I had ambitions early on to own my own pharmacy and even whilst I was doing my pre-registration year I was looking to buy a pharmacy business. It’s very difficult to open a new pharmacy anywhere because you need to obtain a NHS contract. To be granted you have to prove that there is a ‘need’ or ‘desire’ in the community for an additional pharmacy which means you need to be at least a mile away from an existing one.  So really, the only way to own a pharmacy was to acquire it from an existing Pharmacist.


Eventually after being qualified for 4 years and with several failed contract applications, I had an offer on a pharmacy accepted. The banks didn’t want to lend me any money because I didn’t have a big enough deposit. Luckily the owner was prepared to lend me the money himself, at a higher rate, until I was in a position to refinance with a bank two years later once I had built up enough equity in the business.


  1. You currently have seven pharmacies in your pharmacy business, Mayberry Pharmacy. Was your strategy when you started your own pharmacy to open in different locations or did it happen organically?


Initially my strategy was just to have one pharmacy but once we started trading successfully then my concerns changed and I didn’t want to have all my eggs in one basket. 95% of your business as a pharmacy comes from local NHS prescriptions from local GP’s so if a GP moved or closed down, a pharmacy business wouldn’t survive so I wanted to mitigate the risks by having several sites in different locations.


  1. Have you had any experience in selling a business? If so, what where the biggest challenges and how did you get past them?


I had a business called Mayberry and Morris Pharmacy with my then Business Partner, Gwyn Morris.  We had 2 pharmacies that we decided to sell so that we could concentrate on our own businesses so we approached bigger pharmacy groups and soon got an offer.


We went through the process on our own without an advisor which was tough as we didn’t have anyone to negotiate and get the best deal for us, field questions and provide information. Going through a process was like a full-time job without an advisor.


How long did this take as you weren’t using an advisor and trying to answer all the queries yourself?


Months and months – from start to finish it took at least a year. It was very difficult to get all of the information that was required by the buyer, we had no proper plan in place for the due diligence.


If you could do it again would you use an advisor to get a better price?


Definitely. An advisor would help us get everything needed by a buyer to be in place before a sale. For instance, making sure that any contracts in place, big or small were fit for purpose. Which would mean that due diligence wouldn’t be so onerous and also, more importantly to negotiate the best deal for an exit.


  1. What advice would you give to someone who was looking to start their own business and build it for a sale in the future?


To build a business for sale, you’ve got to begin with the end in mind. One of the key parts of this is to not build a business that is reliant on yourself. It needs to be scalable and needs to be able to continue long after you’ve gone.


  1. What was the inspiration behind your new venture Pilltime.co.uk?


I had noticed in my pharmacy business (Mayberry Pharmacy) that even our most loyal patients weren’t coming in to collect their medication every 28 days.  That is typically the standard amount of medication that is dispensed on a single prescription. When we started digging deeper into the analytics we realised that these people were only coming in 9-10 times a year for their prescriptions– not 12 times you would expect. This was because they weren’t remembering to take their tablets every correctly every day.


With this data, I realised that if I could get Patients taking their medication correctly they’d get better control of their condition, making them feel better in themselves, and they would be less likely to have long term chronic conditions or catastrophic event later in life like a stroke or heart attack. That’s good for patients, but also it means that it reduces the need for expensive interventions by the NHS.  So by making it easier for Patients to take their tablets it means there’s less of a burden on the NHS. That was a catalyst, amongst other things, for starting PillTime.co.uk.


  1. How does the technology work behind Pilltime?


Pilltime are utilising the electronic prescription service (EPS) which allows any GP in England to transmit prescriptions. So far 90% of GPs in England are using this service. We are also using robotic technology enabling tablets to be dispensed into individual pouches which are personalised for each Patients needs. We then have optical checkers which double check everything has been dispensed correctly.


Patients then receive their medication dispensed in clearly labeled, easy to open pouches with packaging clearly showing the time of day the medicine needs to be taken which means Patients won’t forget to take their medication. Everything is posted to the Patient free of charge. The complicated and frustrating process of managing and taking medicines is replaced by a simple, easy and safer way.


  1. What is it like working with your head of Patient Care, Dr Hilary Jones?


Working with Dr Hilary himself is great as he’s very enthusiastic about the product. As soon as we showed him the pouches he could see straight away how PillTime would benefit patients. He is also very passionate about how we can help people with certain specific conditions. For example, he suggested that we should promote PillTime to people with arthritis who find it harder to open normal pharmaceutical packaging. Dr Hilary is also a trusted, experienced Doctor that people know and this helps Patients to trust PillTime from the offset.


  1. Where you see PillTime going in the next 5 to 10 years?


I think it’s the future – because of the technology that is available.  We are embracing the electronic prescription service and robotic dispensing, we are giving patients a much better experience as we are managing their prescriptions, taking away the frustration or re-ordering and making it a much simpler and easier process.


  1. In terms of your career can you think of what your proudest moment is so far?


Last year at the National Chemist & Druggist Awards, Mayberry Pharmacy was named Independent Pharmacy of the Year. These awards are the biggest awards in the community pharmacy world and to win and be recognised nationally was my proudest moment professionally (so far!)


  1. Who is a person that you considered as a role model early in your life? How and why does this person impact your life?


I suppose my biggest role model was my Dad. Although he was a School Teacher he was very entrepreneurial and he set up various businesses outside of teaching which he got me involved in from a very early age. He encouraged me to set up was a small clothes shop in our local mining town in South Wales, at the age of 16. At the weekends, we would set off at 4am to travel down to the warehouses in London to buy clothes, then return to Wales, pricing all the garments in the evening, ready for us to put them on the rails ready to sell the next morning. I think that it was his work ethic that drove me early in life and still does now!


  1. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?


Nothing significant – I think I have been very lucky in my life and in my career


  1. Quick fire

Marmite – love it or hate it?

Love it!


If you could get have a yacht what would you call it?

Lady Jane after my Wife.


If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

I would love to go and watch the Lions play in New Zealand this month!


What is one of the things you would put on your “bucket” list?

Learn to play the guitar / learn to fly.


Life motto?

Don’t sweat the small stuff!

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