Dexter Blackstock has gone from football to pharmaceuticals – and hopes to save lives, slash the cost of healthcare and even help change the perception of professional players.
Eyebrows were raised when striker Blackstock decided to quit football two years ago at an age when many players still feel they have plenty left in the tank.
He says: ‘I retired when I was 31, just turned, and had two years left at Rotherham. I didn’t really like it and decided to take my chances with other things.
Dexter Blackstock ended his footballing career in 2017 and wanted to try different things
‘Obviously it was unusual and a lot of people didn’t believe it was a good move but I thought I am going see what I can do.’
Those ‘other things’ were Blackstock’s various business interests which he had been working on in the background during what turned out to be the closing years of his career.
Now it is making his mark in the world of medicine rather than on the score-sheet that is his focus.
In a link between Blackstock’s old life and new one, a company he is closely associated with, UK Meds, now have their logo on the shirts and training gear of one of his former clubs after striking a sponsorship deal to become one of Nottingham Forest’s official partners.
Blackstock played for Southampton, QPR, Nottingham Forest and Rotherham among others
Nottingham-based UK Meds, one of the countries leading online pharmacies, was created by Blackstock’s good friends, father and son Joe and Mason Soiza, and use the latest technology to dispense prescriptions remotely.
Joe and Mason encouraged Blackstock, 33, to think outside the box and look for opportunities outside football, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector.
That led Blackstock, who also counts Southampton and QPR among his former clubs, to start MediConnect with a view to revolutionising the world of medicine.
Using blockchain technology, the aim of MediConnect is to join all the parties involved in the buying and distribution of medication online – manufacturer, logistics company, wholesaler, GP, pharmacy and patient – on one platform bringing greater cohesion and security to the process for all involved.
Blackstock is heavily involved with online pharmacy UK Meds and is happy in his new career
UK Meds, which has a user-base of 200,000 people, is pioneering the shift to blockchain by becoming the first company to sign up to use MediConnect’s services.
‘MediConnect is basically changing the whole way that pharmaceuticals will be sold in the country,’ Blackstock explained.
‘We hope to change a system that has been in place for years. As online pharmacies become more common we are providing a platform to safeguard everybody involved in the process of supplying and using medication.
‘If you are buying you can feel safe knowing the pharmacy is using our platform. The drugs are authentic, haven’t been ordered from multiple different sources and the doctor has the right information before they prescribe.
‘The long-term aim is to make MediConnect the gold standard in the UK so every pharmacy has to use the platform.
‘If everybody in hospitals, online, offline, was tuned into it they would all have their own unique identifier.
‘That would mean you couldn’t abuse drugs. Counterfeit drugs wouldn’t get to you because they would be stopped along the supply chain.
‘Human error would be eradicated. People die every day because of human error or lack of information. This would save billions of pounds from wastage, drug recall, things like that.
‘Eventually we want to have the whole country using MediConnect. We are in initial talks with the NHS but, for now, we are focusing on the online side.’
The striker hopes blockchain can transform way the pharmaceutical industry is run in the UK
The MediConnect platform is currently being built. Blackstock and his team are in the crowdfunding stage which in the case of MediConnect is called an ICO (initial coin offering) rather than an IPO (initial public offering).
Those who invest will get cryptocurrency in exchange for their commitments which they can use later on to make online purchases.
‘It is a huge project,’ says Blackstock, who is doing his bit to make people think differently about footballers.
‘Hopefully I’m helping change the image people have of the stereotypical footballer,’ Blackstock says. ‘There is a perception that footballers have no transferable skills, are stupid, get paid lots of money, waste it and many end up broke.’
Blackstock played 350 league games in his career and his happy with what he did on the pitch
And with such big plans it is no surprise that wondering what he has left behind has barely entered Blackstock’s mind.
‘Do I miss football? No, no,’ he said.
‘When I retired I just thought “I don’t want to do this anymore”. Because it was my decision to retire, I never looked back.
‘I’ve never really thought ‘I wish I was playing this Saturday.’ I played enough – 350 league games. How many more do I want?’