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3 golden rules for health tech entrepreneurs



If the last 10 years practicing family medicine have taught me anything, it’s that there is a desperate need for innovation in healthcare. I don’t just mean in terms of medical treatments or protocols, but really in every aspect. As a physician, I’ve worked with my fair share of “the latest and greatest” innovations both in my outpatient practice and at hospitals.

As I shifted into my current position, I’ve come across some products that were distinguished winners, eventually going on to become not just highly successful but the new gold standard in the industry. Others, unfortunately, never even got off the ground. Often, in the back of my mind, I felt like I could always tell which ones had the staying power to transform healthcare the way it needed to be transformed.

When it comes to ensuring the success of your product, service or innovation, following these three golden rules will put you on the right track.

When it comes to ensuring the success of your product, service or innovation, following these three golden rules will put you on the right track. It’s no guarantee, but without getting these three things right, you’ve got no shot.

Design for outcomes first

Stephen Covey coined the phrase: “Begin with the end in mind.” It’s the second of his 7 Habits. But he could have also been writing about habits for health tech innovators. It’s not enough to develop a “new tool” to use in a health setting. Maybe it has a purpose, but does it meaningfully address a need, or solve a problem, in a way that measurably improves outcomes? In other words: Does it have value?

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, pharmaceutical and research firms set out upon a global mission to develop safe and effective vaccines, to bring the virus under control and return life around the world to something approaching “normal” … and quickly. In less than a year, Pfizer and Moderna crossed the finish line first, bringing novel two-jab mRNA vaccines to market with extraordinary speed and with an outstanding efficacy rate.

Vaccine makers started with an outcome in mind and, in countries with plentiful vaccine access, are delivering on those outcomes. But not all outcomes need be so lofty to be effective. Maybe your innovation aims to:

  • Improve patient compliance with at-home treatment plans.
  • Reduce the burden of documentation on physicians and scribes.
  • Increase access to quality care among underserved, impoverished or marginalized communities.

For example, Alertive Healthcare, one of our portfolio companies, wanted to meaningfully improve round-the-clock care for when patients couldn’t get in to see their physicians and developed a platform for clinical-grade remote patient monitoring. Patients download an easy-to-use app that sends intelligent alerts to providers, reducing documentation and decreasing time to treatment. Patients enrolled in the app reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke by 50%. That’s compelling value and an example of designing for outcomes.

When designing for outcomes, it’s also important to know precisely how you’ll measure success. When you can point toward quantifiable metrics, you’re not only giving yourself goals in your product design and development, you’re also establishing the proof points that sell your product into the market. Make them as meaningful and measurable as possible, as soon as possible.

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Start Ups

Internal Talent Marketplace Gloat Raises $57M Series C From Accel



New York-headquartered Gloat, an internal talent marketplace for employers, closed its $57 million Series C led by Accel with existing investors Eight Roads, Intel Capital, Magma Venture Partners and PICO Partners participating. The company has raised a total of close to $92 million since its founding in 2015, per Crunchbase data. 

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We spoke with Ben Reuveni, Gloat co-founder and CEO. The company started out with a platform to help individuals get their next job with offers that match their experience. They found that “fifty percent of the time the next step of an individual could be within the company.” 

This was an ah-ha moment for the team. They decided to build an internal marketplace and tested the product with a few key customers, officially launching the new product mid-2019. 

Gloat’s first customers were Unilever and Schneider Electric. Other customers followed including Standard Chartered, Seagate, Nestlé, and HSBC. The service onboards employees on one side and hiring managers on the other. Across its customers it finds 80 percent to 85 percent of employees complete profiles. 

We spoke with Unilever’s VP of Future of Work Paddy Hull about the impact of a company like Gloat. In 2017, he said Unilever was thinking “how do we better unlock this matching of great talent and skills to emerging opportunities in the organization.” Unilever has 149,000 employees in over 190 countries. Previously the process was more ad-hoc through talent forums. “It wasn’t as quick or effective or as efficient as it could be,” said Hull.

In order to make sure employees have a future fit skill set, Unilever introduced flexible work allowing team members to work on other projects 20 percent of the time to build skills and grow their career through the platform. 

Unilever CEO Alan Jope acknowledged the benefits in their 2020 fourth quarter earnings call earlier this year:

“Our FLEX platform [powered by Gloat], for example, has helped us just in the last year to reprioritize 500,000 worker hours towards more than 3,000 business-critical projects and has enabled many employees to choose flexible employment models that suit their personal life choices.”

The investor POV

London-based Philippe Botteri, who led the investment on behalf of Accel, acknowledged that “The world has evolved to more marketplaces, and there is a reason for that, because marketplaces give you a much deeper reach.” Botteri has made only three investments in HR cloud technologies over his 15 year investing career. The first was Cornerstone while he was at Bessemer Venture Partners in 2007, the next PeopleDoc in 2014. 

Botteri acknowledged that it’s hard to create a new category in HR. 

Botteri had been watching the company for a while, and when they pivoted to an internal marketplace he thought, “it totally makes sense.” He added, “this is the best way to enable all employees to have access to the same opportunities, and it’s the best way for the company to find the best talent for these opportunities.”

The service is priced as a SaaS model with a per-employee fee and an annual fee. The company at a very early stage has been able to sign very large contracts with global companies as the product impacts every single employee, “the value they can unlock is massive,” according to Botteri. 

Reuveni confirmed that the funding was competitive and closed within three months. The company has 117 employees and plans to double that number. 

Feature photo of Gloat co-founders Amichai Schreiber, Ben Reuveni and Danny Shtainberg from left to right, and product image courtesy of Gloat. 

Blogroll illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

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Start Ups

UK femtech startup Hertility Health lands €4.8 million to revolutionise the world of hormone and reproductive health



Hertility Health, the new women’s health startup revolutionising the world of hormone and reproductive health, today announces the closing of a 4.8 million seed funding round led by LocalGlobe, Venrex, and some key angel investors including former CEO of Bupa, Evelyn Bourke, CEO of Nested and the unicorn company GoCardless, Matt Robinson.

The funds will help Hertility Health expand its current product offering of fertility and hormone testing, menopause, miscarriage, postnatal care, polycyctic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis testing, as well as aid the expansion of its current clinical trials which aim to reduce the diagnosis time for some of the most common reproductive conditions. This cash injection will also work towards establishing Hertility Health as the leading scientific and clinical educational health hub for women in a sector that’s set to be worth $50 billion by 2025.

Founded in 2019, Hertility Health has already helped over 2,000 women understand their reproductive health and infertility risks, working with leading world experts to provide personalised care pathways that help with all aspects of women’s health, including  symptom management, egg freezing and IVF. In recognising the sensitive nature of these results, Hertility Health also offers fertility counselling to those in need.

“We live in a society that expects us to tolerate pain and mask our symptoms. Some women spend over ten years on their contraception, never fully knowing if there might be something wrong”, said Hertility Health CEO and Founder, Dr Helen O’Neill. On average, 1 in 5 Hertility Health users have been found to have a previously undiagnosed reproductive condition which has been revealed as a result of testing with Hertility Health.

“The world class team of experts, scientists and researchers at Hertility Health are what make it a real game-changer in the industry”, said Julia Hawkins at LocalGlobe. “Together, we’re excited to help Hertility Health become the home for women’s health, building on its incredible success to date and meeting the clear consumer demand for an accessible, affordable, high-quality solution to reproductive health concerns and curiosity.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in demand for remote and accessible help. The current NHS guidelines stipulate women must prove they have been actively trying for over 12 months before being referred for specialist help (requiring them to be heterosexual), or to have had at least three miscarriages before being investigated. For the 1 in 7 couples who will experience infertility, this is simply not good enough. Of course there is the option to go private, but this can incur high costs just for a check – not exactly ‘accessible’ or ‘affordable’ – which Hertilty offers for a fraction of this cost.

Mark Esiri of Venrex Investment Management, commented: “Venrex tries to find creative entrepreneurs who often have ‘differences of opinion’ with the status quo.  This has been a common thread at companies we have been lucky enough to back, including Revolut, Charlotte Tilbury, Mumsnet, NotOnTheHighStreet and Maven Clinic. WE are very fortunate to be working with the Hertility Health team who are bringing world class technical expertise, a data-driven approach and relentless energy to address deeply important health issues. We believe that these bright and passionate founders can use their expertise to positively change the world.”

Hertility Health user, Emily Champion, said that her Hertilty Health journey was “A life-changing experience. Quite literally. The fear of infertility is so very real. Why should we women have to fight so hard to get to the truth of our own bodies?! The answer is… we shouldn’t! Hertility Health has not only provided me with reassurance and hope but also have shown their loyalty by continuing my journey on a secondary care pathway. They too believe that our questions shouldn’t be left unanswered. These personable & inspirational individuals are rocking the boat for the health sector and I feel so privileged to have been a part of it.”

Founded by female scientists who felt passionate about the need for change, they built Hertility Health while on their maternity leave, dedicating themselves and their expertise to the mission. Hertility Health was born out of pure frustration for the lack of research into women’s health and the lack of support available to women who were curious or worried about their reproductive health. Officially launching in 2020 during the pandemic, Hertility Health is addressing one of the biggest market segments in which there has been little advancement for many years.

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Start Ups

Apna get a $70 Mn funding boost in Series B round at $570 Mn valuation



Blue collar job platform Apna has secured $70 Mn fund infusion in a series B round. The Bengaluru based startup has commanded a valuation of $570 Mn in the latest round. The latest round has come barely two months after the startup scooped $12.5 Mn as a part of its Series A round.

Tiger Global and Insight partners have led the Series B funding round while existing investors have also participated in the round. The existing investors include Sequoia Capital India, Greanoaks Capital, Lightspeed India and Rocketship VC.

Apart from ramping up domestic expansion, Apna will use the fresh proceedings for global expansion. The startup is especially looking to expand its base in the U.S. and Southeast Asian market. As for its domestic footprint is concerned, the company said that it is currently providing services in 14 cities and is available in six languages.

Founded by former Apple Inc executive Nirmit Parikh, Apna touts itself as the LinkedIn for non-English and non-affluent Indian, most of whom live at the margins of the Indian society. This includes low wage-earning professionals like drivers, delivery personals, painters, sales persons and salon workers. The company claims that it has 10 Mn job seekers from such blue-collar job profiles and boasts high profile clients like Amazon, Burger King, Flipkart, Byju’s so and so forth.

Techpluto could not independently verify the claims made by Apna. However, Apna’s app is supposedly gaining traction at a time when Covid-19 has rendered thousands of blue-collar professionals jobless. In fact, blue collar professionals have been hit hardest by the COVID lockdown.

These adverse times can make for a good business for Apna. Besides, for a barely one year old company to command a valuation of $570 Mn is quite impressive.

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Start Ups

What does the future hold for business travel?



I could start this article off by telling you about how the coronavirus pandemic changed our world. But I’m not going to dwell on that. We all remember how difficult 2020 was. It’s not something we’re likely to forget soon.

What I do want to focus on is the future—and it’s one that I see as particularly bright. We’re living in a time where scientists were able to produce multiple vaccines to combat the spread of a previously unknown virus in a year. If that’s not something to celebrate, then what is? That’s why I know that this “new normal” isn’t going to be something out of a dystopian novel. Life is going to be normal again, and travel is going to come back. It’s just going to be a little different.

As the vaccine rollout continues across the globe and travellers start to get back on the road again, here are a few trends I predict will characterize the future of the travel industry.

Flexible trips will be the normal way of traveling

Flexibility as a tool for safe and comfortable travel

Flexible fares will become a must-have for frequent travellers. We can already see travel coming back in different stages around the world, but the speed of vaccine rollouts and changing travel restrictions can still affect planned trips. That’s why travellers will rely on flexible fares to give them the peace of mind that they won’t lose money if they need to change or cancel a trip on short notice. It’s about having that “comfort net” that their itinerary isn’t 100% set in stone.

Demand for more flexibility beyond COVID-19

Flexibility is one of the most in-demand perks in business travel (and leisure travel too) on a broader scale. It’s not just to do with COVID-19 – travellers have long been seeking less rigid booking policies and fares from airlines, for example. The pandemic simply made this non-negotiable. At this point, I think that travellers and travel managers will continue to demand the flexibility to change or cancel any aspect of a trip, no matter the reason, and no questions asked.

Sustainability will have a serious seat at the table

Trains before planes

There are actually two reasons people will use trains before planes. First, there is a perception that trains are safer from COVID-19 than planes. That’s because they’re more spacious, there’s less bottleneck crowding at security, and many train stations are outdoors. Second, trains are undoubtedly the more environmentally-friendly option. In fact, taking a train over a domestic flight can reduce an individual’s carbon emissions by about 84%! Countries like France are even banning the use of planes for short-haul flights under 2.5 hours. Other European countries like Austria and Germany are also considering similar legislation. Sustainability was a hot topic even before the outbreak of the pandemic, and now industry players are realizing that they need to bring the overall environmental impact of their organizations down. And it starts with something as simple as booking business travelers on trains for short-haul journeys.

A greater desire for sustainable travel

The virus woke a sort of “collective consciousness” about sustainability in us all. We realized that we weren’t prepared for a crisis of this scale and that the next big crisis is likely to come from climate change. More and more travellers are opting to travel sustainably through things like carbon offsetting. As millennials start to form a greater part of the workforce, the values they were raised with to recycle and be mindful of the environment will take hold in businesses. Travel directly or indirectly affects most of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and the industry as a whole will give sustainability a more serious seat at the table as a result. Businesses worldwide are already looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and general environmental impact. Making business travel greener is a great step forward.

New trends in how we travel

New types of business trips will emerge to bring people together

Businesses worldwide are giving employees remote working options. Whether that’s going fully remote and “working from anywhere”, or operating on a hybrid model, distributed teams will need (and want) to come together. As we say at TravelPerk, the meetings that matter happen in person. That’s why I predict that a new type of business trip will emerge—one where team members will travel from different working hubs to get together. They’ll fuse teambuilding and brainstorming sessions with meetings with clients and colleagues, and will even turn them into “bleisure” (business and leisure) trips.

COVID-19 documentation will be a requirement for a while

Countries will keep doing everything they can to mitigate the spread of the virus. One of the leading concerns is still the threat of new variants coming in from outside. That’s why governments will keep requiring proof from travelers that they are COVID-free. That could be a “health passport” proving that you’ve been vaccinated (and with which vaccine). It could just be proof of a negative PCR test, and some countries may still require testing upon arrival. Quarantine requirements won’t be universal and will differ depending on where you’re coming from.

Travel corridors between countries will open up

Because countries are administering the vaccines at different speeds, travel corridors between countries where both ends of the trip are COVID-free will open up. Countries like Spain, Greece, and Israel have opened up safe travel corridors allowing vaccinated travelers to enter with no restrictions. I believe that this arrangement is going to stick around for a while until most countries reach high vaccination rates.

Travellers will book closer to their departure date

Before the pandemic, trip searches were usually conducted between 7 and 30 days prior to the selected departure date. What we’re seeing on our platform is that searches for trips less than six days away are now equal to those searches. This could mean that people booking trips prefer to do so closer to their departure date as a way of staying on top of changing travel restrictions. This will continue for the foreseeable future, however as more travel corridors open up and vaccination rates increase worldwide, we anticipate that booking tendencies will go back to normal.

A few final thoughts

If this pandemic has proved one thing it’s that a Zoom call can never fully replace the value of those face-to-face interactions. I, myself, have vowed not to hold any more Zoom meetings until September. One thing’s sure—travel is definitely coming back. And it’s not going to be “new normal” travel. It’s just going to be normal travel.

We’re already seeing that travel is recovering. In the US, for example, domestic leisure travel has almost returned to pre-pandemic levels. Overall travel is sure to make a full comeback because we are, after all, social beings who crave in-person interaction. And that’s exactly what travel, be that for business or pleasure, provides. It offers people the possibility to come together, to create, and to experience. That’s not something that can just go away. Just wait and see.

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