Discover more from next big thing
Footwork leads the Seed round for the marketplace matching patients to clinical trials.
The consumerization of healthcare has been a longstanding area of interest for us at Footwork. As I wrote back in October 2020:
The next big thing in healthcare will be a better experience for consumers, directly targeted at consumers, and with consumers at the center to catalyze much-needed change in the healthcare industry.
One area in which we believe such an opportunity resides is in clinical trials. If you or a loved one has had to navigate the clinical trial system, you know that it deserves a much better consumer experience. It takes so much work — meeting multiple specialists, tapping everyone you can for recommendations, reaching out to trial coordinators, getting approved and qualified — and a large dose of luck to get a novel treatment for a condition you’re trying to overcome. It’s unfortunately no wonder that less than 5% of U.S. patients (and only 2-3% of cancer patients) ever take part in a potentially life-changing clinical trial. And this isn’t just a problem facing patients. 86% of U.S. clinical trials are delayed because of lack of enrollment, meaning that everyone, from the researchers working on discovering new drugs to the clinical research organizations running trials, faces the pain of this broken system.
We’re delighted to announce our investment in a company working to solve these challenges: Power, a platform that makes clinical trials easy to navigate for patients. With Power, patients and their families can search through all active clinical trials in the U.S. (there are more than 30,000!), learn relevant information about each of them, ask questions to learn more about trials, and apply to join those that could be a fit. For the organizations running clinical trials, Power enables trials to increase enrollment, providing direct access for researchers to connect with patients.
Power comes out of stealth today with $7M in Seed funding from Footwork, CRV, ARTIS Ventures, South Park Commons, AirAngels, and some fantastic angel investors from healthcare, life science and consumer technology. Check out this blog post from the company on its founding story, and this piece by Erin Bodwin at Axios.
What gave us the conviction to invest and lead this round? Here are three reasons:
1. A consumer marketplace that’s already growing quickly and organically.
Marketplaces are very hard businesses to get off the ground, because they require enough supply and demand to generate utility and liquidity. Power has aggregated the supply of all U.S. clinical trials on its platform, and is seeing organic growth in patient demand to its site. We love businesses that grow through word-of-mouth, and in an industry that’s traditionally been heavily reliant on paid marketing spend to drive patient recruitment, that characteristic of Power particularly impressed us.
2. Founders that have the right DNA to build a special company.
We spent several online and in-person sessions getting to know Power’s founders, Brandon Li and Bask Gill. They deeply impressed us with their knowledge of the business and its core drivers, their hunger but also their humility, and their ability to recruit great early hires to the Power team across functional areas from engineering to growth. We believe that the team’s consumer marketplace, growth and product DNA is a huge asset to scaling a business that has traditionally been tackled by healthcare- and life science-focused entrepreneurs.
3. A mission very worthy of us all working hard to achieve.
Partnering with a company by being their lead early-stage investor is a big decision, for you can often wind up working together for many, many years. A key factor that made this feel like a worthwhile partnership is the mission that Power is on. Clinical trials have been inaccessible for many people for far too long. Power has an opportunity to level the playing field, by making trials accessible to anyone, regardless of background, location, network, or resources. In doing so, it can help more patients get access to life-changing treatments, help more researchers get those treatments to market, and build a massive business in the process, since billions of dollars are already spent annually on clinical trial recruitment in the U.S. alone. To Brandon, Bask, and all of us on the Power journey, that feels like a race worth running and trying to win. If you agree, the company’s hiring across engineering, design, business development, and marketing — come join us!