The company is positioned with a first-mover advantage as Australia’s ‘cannabis ecosystem’, as it looks to benefit from strong industry tailwinds.

Australia’s cannabis sector has advanced from the “pioneer” stage, and is now on track to be a $1.7bn industry by 2023, Montu Managing Director Christopher Strauch says.

And amid those broader tailwinds, Montu is positioning as the market leader in medical cannabis as adoption rates rapidly accelerate.

Strauch caught up with Stockhead this week to discuss the company’s outlook, as it takes Expressions of Interest on the Birchal crowdfunding platform for a new capital raise to fund its next phase of growth.


Industry tailwinds

Montu has created Australia’s leading cannabis ecosystem, which streamlines the patient experience from end-to-end, and connects Australians to highly qualified doctors via Montu’s alternaleafTM telehealth platform.

In that context, Strauch said he’s had a front-row seat to the rapid uplift in the broader sector’s momentum over the past 12 months. However, it’s still early days.

“Medical cannabis is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country, since more and more patients seek alternative therapies to common problems like pain and insomnia, without the side effects associated with conventional medications,” Strauch said.

As a measure of market growth, Strauch said patient approvals had grown around “10-fold” over the past 12 months, to a total of 170,000 approvals as at the end of September.

“More important though is that authorised prescriber numbers have doubled over the past six months,” he added.

This trend indicates that there is a growing number of high-volume prescribers that dedicate their time to medical cannabis.  And that’s where there’s a major addressable market opportunity, in which Montu has established the best-practice solution.

“The main problem in the market is that the total number of medical cannabis prescribers is still only around 5% of Australian doctors”, Strauch said.

“So the hardest part for patients is simply getting access to these prescribers.”

“We have that solution in one ecosystem – a tech platform that integrates and manages the entire process of getting the right doctors prescribing the right medication, all the way through to receiving your medication delivered to your doorstep.”

Every year, Montu is connecting more than 15,000 patients to a network of Australia’s leading prescribers.

“We are setting new standards in cannabis care.  We support patients throughout the entire process, and provide access to those ‘pioneer’ cannabis prescribers in Australia that have relevant real-world experience across thousands of patients.”

Montu has a 5-star rating on Google from over 500 people, and is the most frequently – and highest rated – cannabis company in the Australian market.

“What used to be very difficult and cumbersome is now a streamlined process, and patients love what we do”, Strauch said.


Scaling up

By filling a critical gap in the market, Montu has also established a profitable business model.

And it’s now returning to the Birchal platform for the second time to fund its near-term growth ambitions.

Montu’s latest capital raise follows a marquee $2m funding round on Birchal last year, which saw Montu become the fastest company in Australia to raise $1m (36 hours).

That raise attracted a cohort of more than 1,000 investors, comprising a number of sophisticated investors as well as doctors and patients that use the platform.

“We were able to deploy that funding to build out our tech infrastructure, increase our team and grow patient awareness,” Strauch said.

And as a result, the business has seen “phenomenal growth” since then.

“We’ve grown by 1,000% over the last 12 months, we’ve reached an annualised revenue run-rate of $10m and turned the business profitable, so it’s a ‘hat-trick’ combination in that sense,” Strauch said.

With this raise, Montu is aiming to “capitalise on that and solidify our position in the market, and invest in the technology we’ve already built to add more features and functionality”, he added.

“It’s an exceptional investment opportunity. We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from existing and new investors, with close to 800 expressions of interest in the first 72 hours alone – some of the highest numbers Birchal has seen.”


Growth pathway

Despite its rapid growth, Strauch reiterated that the broader sector is still in its early days in terms of the broader addressable market.

Currently, medical cannabis in Australia is a “$200m industry” – a figure Strauch said could easily surpass $1bn.

“It takes time to lift off but when it does, it really accelerates,” he said.

As an example, across Montu’s network, doctors who were previously writing prescriptions for two or three patients per month are now writing for “200 patients”, Strauch said.

“By combining the best in cannabis care with our simple, streamlined solution, we are giving patients the best service possible. As patient awareness grows, we are set to see a significant spike”, he said.

“And the reality is the regulatory environment is very much in favour of these treatments. We’ve seen a reduction in the regulatory burden, and changes on a state-by-state basis to make these treatments more accessible.”

“And looking ahead, there are a lot more regulatory developments in the pipeline over the next 12-24 months that will further boost this industry into a billion-dollar market.” Strauch said.

This article was developed in collaboration with Montu, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.