Beyond Series B: Antidote
As any entrepreneur will tell you, a successful business needs to solve a genuine problem.
For Antidote, the problem couldn’t be clearer: 80% of clinical trials suffer delays due to a lack of patients. The solution? A platform that taps into millions of potential patients.
By using machine learning, Antidote matches patients to trials with greater precision than has previously been possible. It currently reaches more than 195 online health communities.
The platform has encountered strong demand in the US, where most of the firm’s sales operations are based.
As a UK-based start-up doing most of its business in the US, Antidote has had “extraordinarily helpful” support from the Mayor’s International Business Programme, says Chief Patient Officer Sarah Kerruish.
She explains: “The programme’s Female Founders mission gave us fantastic exposure and invaluable contacts. Now, wherever we go, the people we speak to have heard of us.”
To prove her point, former US Vice-President Joe Biden invited Antidote to be part of the Cancer Breakthroughs 2020 initiative.
A conventional journey
The firm’s funding journey has so far been “conventional”. The initial seed and subsequent venture rounds, including an A and B series, have totalled $15 million.
Most recently, Antidote secured a further $11 million in a round led by Merck Global Health Innovation Fund. Existing investors Smedvig Capital, Amadeus Capital and Octopus Ventures have remained involved, giving Antidote what Sarah calls “a huge vote of confidence”.
In Merck, Antidote has found the perfect strategic investor for the business.
“They understand our space, and the issue we’re addressing,” says Sarah. “And they’re adept at bringing together companies to create eco-systems to solve big problems. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do.”
Antidote is using the latest funds for three key purposes. First, to expand the team, focusing on sales, marketing and engineering in particular. Second, to improve the way data from thousands of clinical trials is structured. And third, to keep the platform up to date with the changing nature of clinical trials in the age of precision medicine.
From Antidote’s experience of venture funding rounds, Sarah has some bold advice for entrepreneurs.
“Don’t be afraid to approach the big investors,” she says. “And don’t shy away from approaching the US investor community.”
The recent successes of UK start-ups have made US investors take note, according to Sarah. “More and more British entrepreneurs are building the sort of scalable solutions that American venture capitalists are looking for.
“So be confident in what you’ve built, and go for it.”
A two-way process
Investors will scrutinise their target companies to the nth degree. But it’s a two-way process, Sarah points out. Entrepreneurs need to know that their financiers will support them when the going gets tough.
“Do your due diligence on potential funders, just as they will on you,” she advises. “Investors all have their own style and way of working with investees, so you need to be sure that they’re right for your business.”
She suggests getting reference checks on investors, and seeking advice from those who’ve been there and done it. “Talk to others who’ve completed the same funding rounds you’re going through,” she says. “You can learn a lot from their experiences.”