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The MOLE Clinic: Iain Mack

Following his own cancer scare Iain Mack set out to make a difference

The UK death rate for melanoma skin cancer is one in four and the only cure is to catch it early.

Lawyer Iain Mack was one that got away. He was diagnosed in July 2001 and the experience triggered a determination to create a private clinic that could successfully detect it, something the UK didn't have at the time.

In 2003 he launched screening business The MOLE Clinic in London. “What shocked me was that the death rate in Australia was one in 10 because they have an established screening industry. The UK was clearly behind on a health basis, but there was also potential for a business.”

He researched the digital scanners used for detection – none of which were available in the UK at the time – and became the country's only certifi ed trainer for Visiomed AG's microDERM® Expert System. He recruited enthusiastic doctors and nurses (who are trained as diagnosticians) and launched a London clinic in the hottest summer in the UK for a decade.

News coverage on the BBC and ITN followed and the clinic was immediately inundated, forcing it to create an extensive waiting list. The launch was so successful the company was highly commended in the PR Week Awards for achieving, on a shoestring, coverage equating to a £3.2m ad spend.

BUPA Hospitals then approached Mack with a view to creating licensed clinics. In July 2004 it launched the first in its Bristol hospital. Mack is now involved in talks with all of the country's major private healthcare providers to replicate the model elsewhere. There are also plans to open talks with the NHS as well as opening more of its own clinics.

With plans to grant 50 more licences in the next 12 months Mack has been to market to raise the necessary finance to build a senior management team. Supported by the Royal Bank of Scotland Mack is close to closing a first round via a number of private investors, with the presentation to London Business Angels 500% oversubscribed and a pre-money valuation of £2m placed on the company.

“It was important validation of what we're doing. LBA receives thousands of business plans but only a handful are granted the time to make presentations,” says Mack. “The skin cancer screening market is worth £100m per annum in the UK but is a very new and emerging market in terms of service provision and no player has our length of experience.”

Charging £95 for a basic screening, an additional £95 for atypical moles and £5 for each mole thereafter, it has attracted more than £1m revenues and screened more than 6,000 clients, as well as being offered to employees of Harrods, News International and John Lewis Partnership among others, as a benefi t. Mack forecasts a £600,000 turnover in 2006 and £3m revenues from the private sector in 2009.

He points to the equivalent chain of clinics in Brisbane, Australia – until recently the ‘skin cancer capital of the world' – which sold 80% of its business for $12m, despite only having 22 clinics in total. With skin cancer numbers predicted to treble in the UK by 2035, according to Cancer Research, the service is only likely to gain in value and Mack points to the fact that while the death rate for melanoma is 27%, it is 0% for those that have used his clinics. What's more, he's at the point of celebrating five years without cancer, making him officially clear.


Company: The MOLE Clinic

Proposition: Skin cancer screening

Founder: Iain Mack

Formed: 2003

Turnover: ?600,000 projected


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