The Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC, the German automaker’s first all-electric vehicle under its new EQ brand, will start at $67,900 when it arrives in the U.S. early next year. Mercedes-Benz announced the price of the…
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here. 1. Spotify’s…
Robert Wahbe is the co-founder and CEO of Highspot, the sales enablement platform that reps love. Slack makes customer acquisition look easy. The day we acquired our first Highspot customer, it was raining hard in…
Google Cloud today announced the launch of a new bare metal service, dubbed the Bare Metal Solution. We aren’t talking about bare metal servers offered directly by Google Cloud here, though. Instead, we’re talking about…
PayPal announced today it has agreed to acquire Honey Science Corporation, the makers of a deal-finding browser add-on and mobile application, for $4 billion, mostly cash. The acquisition, which is PayPal’s largest to date, will…
Apple announced today an expansion of its program designed to get more students coding. The company says it has redesigned the “Everyone Can Code” curriculum with a focus on introducing more elementary and middle school…
TechCrunch covers a lot of bases in the tech startup world, but none is more important than supporting founders — especially early-stage founders. That’s what our new event series, TechCrunch Early Stage, is all about.…
Circ, the Berlin-based e-scooter rentals — or so-called micro-mobility — company founded by Lukasz Gadowski of Delivery Hero fame, has made a number of layoff, TechCrunch has learned. This has seen a reduction in headcount…
A little over a year after the dissolution of the once high-flying blood testing startup Theranos, another startup has raised over $27 million to breathe new life into the vision of bringing low-cost blood tests…
If you wander into the Bandit coffee shop in Midtown New York, you won’t be able to just walk up to the counter and order something. Instead, you’ll need to download a mobile app.
I experienced it for myself yesterday afternoon, when I — along with several other customers — pulled my phone out, downloaded the Bandit app, then used the app to create a profile, order and pay. A couple minutes later, a barista called me up to the counter and handed me a pretty good cup of coffee.
In other words, while Starbucks has been experimenting with mobile ordering and payment, Bandit is betting entirely on what co-founder and CEO Max Crowley called a “mobile-only” store.
Obviously, this model can lead to some initial awkwardness, particularly if random passersby don’t understand it. But there are friendly Bandit staff members on-hand to help, and Crowley (who was previously the general manager of Uber for Business) said that this model offers an opportunity to create “a whole new type of experience.”
He pointed to the rapid growth of China’s Luckin Coffee as an inspiration, and he suggested that ultimately, Bandit should offer customers the most convenient way to satisfy their coffee cravings: Wherever they are, they open the app and order the drink they want. Then they’ll told when it will be ready, and where to pick it up.
Bandit can’t deliver that level of convenience for most customers quite yet, since it only has a single location. But Crowley said he’s rethought other aspects of the coffee shop model.
For one thing, this first Bandit store is located in what’s essentially a raw retail space. Crowley said his team has developed an 11-by-11 foot countertop where all the coffee is prepared — it’s assembled elsewhere and just needs to be plugged in, eliminating the need for an extensive buildout.
“We can launch [a new location] in a few hours, and we can do it at about a tenth the cost of a traditional store,” he said.
So the plan is to launch four or five more New York stores in the coming months, and to expand beyond New York by the end of the first quarter of 2020.
Crowley added that by keeping costs down, Bandit can also keep its coffee affordable: “I don’t think an iced latte needs to be $6 or $7. Our goal is to be less expensive than Starbucks.” (My coffee yesterday, for example, cost me $2.) It’s also experimenting with other pricing models, starting with a $20 subscription that gets you an unlimited number of $1 drinks for a month.
And if this phone- and pop up-focused mentality sounds a little transactional — maybe even a little soulless — I will note that the actual coffee shop didn’t feel that way at all. While the space was a bit bare, it was eye-catching, with several large games like cornhole set for customers. Most importantly, people weren’t just rushing into pick up their coffee — they were actually hanging out.
“When we did some rudimentary scouting of coffee shop locations, we saw that about 80% of customers are grabbing their coffee and leaving,” Crowley said. “That is definitely core to us, making it super easy to grab it and leave, fulfilling drink orders in less than a minute. All of that said, in the future, we’re going to have this portfolio of different kinds of spaces, different kinds of experiences.”
The Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 4MATIC, the German automaker’s first all-electric vehicle under its new EQ brand, will start at $67,900 when it arrives in the U.S. early next year.
Mercedes-Benz announced the price of the EQC 400 Wednesday at the LA Auto Show. The price, which doesn’t account for the $7,500 federal tax credit, is notable because it’s below competitors like the Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-tron and Tesla Model X.
It’s been a year since Mercedes-Benz unveiled the EQC, an all-electric SUV that kicked off the automaker’s plans to invest more than $12 billion to produce a line of battery-powered models under its new EQ brand. And in March, TechCrunch got a brief ride in the SUV in Austin during SXSW. In short, information about the vehicle has been out there. But the price has not.
The Mercedes EQC has a new drive system with compact dual electric drivetrains at each axle, which together generate 402 horsepower and 561 pound-feet of torque. The EQC can travel from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.8 seconds.
Mercedes has configured the vehicle motors to handle different aspects of the driving. The front electric motor is optimized for efficiency in the low to medium load range, while the rear motor is designed to create a sporty driving experience.
The vehicle’s 80 kilowatt-hour battery has an estimated range of around 200 miles, Mercedes-Benz has said in the past. The company didn’t provide updated numbers. The battery has standard DC fast-charging that can reach an 80% charge in 40 minutes.
The EQC will come standard with the company’s new MBUX infotainment system, which is already in the A-Class. The infotainment system has put an emphasis on voice assistant technology and navigation, which will be critical for new EV converts worried about locating charging stations. EQ-optimized navigation, driving modes, charging current and departure time also can be controlled and set via MBUX, the company said.
MBUX will recommend the shortest amount of time needed to get to a destination and uses online services to find available DC fast charging stations to use if the operating range is insufficient. Mercedes-Benz customers can also find charging stations via the Mercedes me Charge card, the Mercedes me App or directly from the car.
The onboard charger makes the most from available external power, with the battery able to recharge from 10% to 80% in just 40 minutes.
The EQC will be available in three tiers at launch: progressive, premium and advanced. The progressive and premium tiers will offer two curated paint and upholstery options, while three selections will be available for the more expensive advanced tier.
The entry-level progressive trim will come standard with MBUX, two 10.25-inch digital displays with touchscreen, advanced driver assistance system features like active brake assist with autonomous emergency braking, LED headlamps with adaptive high-beam assist and three years of
Production of the EQC started this year at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen.
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.
Spotify has worked with Amazon Echo since 2016, but only for premium subscribers. Today, that changes.
The Alexa support — which includes playing Spotify’s Top Hits playlist, Discover Weekly and more — will be available for users in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. Support for Sonos and Bose is more broadly available to users around the world.
When you say “Hey Google, play me the news” to a Google Assistant-enabled phone or smart speaker, you’ll get a tailored playlist of the day’s big headlines and stories. Your News Update draws from a variety of publisher partners, focusing on the stories that seem relevant to your interests and your location.
Users who download the game can connect with friends and join an audio or video chat with them. From there, users can choose a game to load and the whole party is instantly taken into a multiplayer game session with their friends.
As co-founder of a digital health company, Alex Gold had to build a community of test patients. And because of security and privacy concerns, he had to approach this process unconventionally. (Extra Crunch membership required.)
We’re one month out from Disrupt Berlin. And no matter which part of the startup ecosystem you inhabit, the event should be a huge opportunity. (I’ll be there!)
Robert Wahbe is the co-founder and CEO of Highspot, the sales enablement platform that reps love.
Slack makes customer acquisition look easy.
The day we acquired our first Highspot customer, it was raining hard in Seattle. I was on my way to a startup event when I answered my cell phone and our prospect said, “We’re going with Highspot.” Relief, then excitement, hit me harder than the downpour outside. It was a milestone moment – one that came after a long journey of establishing product-market fit, developing a sustainable competitive advantage, and iterating repeatedly based on prospect feedback. In other words, it was anything but easy.
User-first products are driving rapid company growth in an era where individuals discover, adopt, and share software they like throughout their organizations. This is great if you’re a Slack, Shopify, or Dropbox, but what if your company doesn’t fit that profile?
Product-led growth is a strategy that works for the right technologies, but it’s not the end-all, be-all for B2B customer acquisition. For sophisticated enterprise software platforms designed to drive company-wide value, such as Marketo, ServiceNow and Workday, that value is realized when the product is adopted en masse by one or more large segments.
If you’re selling broad account value, rather than individual user or team value, acquisition boils down to two things: elevating account based-selling and revolutionizing the inside sales model. Done correctly, you lay a foundation capable of doubling revenue growth year-over-year, 95 percent company-wide retention, and more than 100 percent growth in new customer logos annually. Here are the steps you can take to build a model that realizes on-par results.
Work the account, not the deal
Account-based selling is not a new concept, but the availability of data today changes the game. Advanced analytics enable teams to develop comprehensive and personalized approaches that meet modern customers’ heightened expectations. And when 77 percent of business buyers feel that technology has significantly changed how companies should interact with them, you have no choice but to deliver.
Despite the multitude of products created to help sellers be more productive and personal, billions of cookie-cutter emails are still flooding the inboxes of a few decision makers. The market is loud. Competition is cut throat. It’s no wonder 40 percent of sales reps say getting a response from a prospect is more difficult than ever before. Even pioneers of sales engagement are recognizing the need for evolution – yesterday’s one-size-fits-all approach to outreach only widens the gap between today’s sellers and buyers.
Companies must radically change their approach to account-based selling by building trusted relationships over time from the first-touch onward. This requires that your entire sales force – from account development representatives to your head of sales – adds tailored, tangible value at every stage of the journey. Modern buyers don’t want to be sold. They want to be advised. But the majority of companies are still missing the mark, favoring spray-and-pray tactics over personalized guidance.
One reason spamming remains prevalent, despite growing awareness of the need for quality over quantity, is that implementing a tailored approach is hard work. However, companies can make great strides by doing just three things:
Invest in personalization: Sales reps have quota, and sales leaders carry revenue targets. The pressure is as real as the numbers. But high velocity outreach tactics simply don’t work consistently. New research from Monetate and WBR Research found that 93% of businesses with advanced personalization strategies increased their revenue last year. And while scaling personalization may sound like an oxymoron, we now have artificial intelligence (AI) technology capable of doing just that. Of course, not all AI is created equal, so take the time to discern AI-powered platforms that deliver real value from the imposters. With a little research, you’ll find sales tools that discard rinse-and-repeat prospecting methods in favor of intelligent guidance and actionable analytics.
Google Cloud today announced the launch of a new bare metal service, dubbed the Bare Metal Solution. We aren’t talking about bare metal servers offered directly by Google Cloud here, though. Instead, we’re talking about a solution that enterprises can use to run their specialized workloads on certified hardware that’s co-located in the Google Cloud data centers and directly connect them to Google Cloud’s suite of other services. The main workload that makes sense for this kind of setup is databases, Google notes, and specifically Oracle Database.
Bare Metal Solution is, as the name implies, a fully integrated and fully managed solution for setting up this kind of infrastructure. It involves a completely managed hardware infrastructure that includes servers and the rest of the data center facilities like power and cooling, support contracts with Google Cloud and billing are handled through Google’s systems, as well as an SLA. The software that’s deployed on those machines is managed by the customer — not Google.
The overall idea, though, is clearly to make it easier for enterprises with specialized workloads that can’t easily be migrated to the cloud to still benefit from the cloud-based services that need access to the data from these systems. Machine learning is an obvious example, but Google also notes that this provides these companies with a bridge to slowly modernize their tech infrastructure in general (where ‘modernize’ tends to mean ‘move to the cloud’).
“These specialized workloads often require certified hardware and complicated licensing and support agreements,” Google writes. “This solution provides a path to modernize your application infrastructure landscape, while maintaining your existing investments and architecture. With Bare Metal Solution, you can bring your specialized workloads to Google Cloud, allowing you access and integration with GCP services with minimal latency.”
Since this service is co-located with Google Cloud, there are no separate ingress and egress charges for data that moves between Bare Metal Solution and Google Cloud in the same region.
The servers for this solution, which are certified to run a wide range of applications (including Oracle Database) range from dual-socket 16-core systems with 384 GB of RAM to quad-socket servers with 112 cores and 3072 GB of RAM. Pricing is on a monthly basis, with a preferred term length of 36 months.
Obviously, this isn’t the kind of solution that you self-provision, so the only way to get started — and get pricing information — is to talk to Google’s sales team. But this is clearly the kind of service that we should expect from Google Cloud, which is heavily focused on providing as many enterprise-ready services as possible.
PayPal announced today it has agreed to acquire Honey Science Corporation, the makers of a deal-finding browser add-on and mobile application, for $4 billion, mostly cash. The acquisition, which is PayPal’s largest to date, will give the payments giant a foothold earlier in the customer’s shopping journey. Instead of only competing on the checkout page against credit cards or Apple Pay, for example, PayPal will leap ahead to become a part of the deal discovery process, as well.
Currently, Honey’s 17 million monthly active users take advantage of its suite of money-saving tools to track prices, get alerts, make lists, browse offers and participate in an Ebates-like rewards program called Honey Gold. Its users tend to be younger, millennial shoppers, both male and female.
PayPal aims to add Honey’s technology to its own product line, expanding its reach to PayPal’s 300 million users.
“What’s exciting is that we can take the functionality Honey now offers — which is product discovery, price tracking, offers and loyalty — and build that into the PayPal and Venmo experiences,” explains PayPal SVP of Global Consumer Products and Technology, and former Xoom CEO, John Kunze. “When Honey says they’re putting money in the pockets of their customers — that’s perfectly in line with what we want to do. We want to make digital commerce and financial services more affordable, easier to use, more fun and more accessible to people around the world,” he says.
In addition, PayPal’s network of 24 million merchant partners will gain the ability to offer targeted and more personalized promotions to consumers as a means of acquiring new business and driving increased sales. PayPal Credit may also be integrated into Honey to help finance larger purchases.
Honey has flown under the radar to some extent since its founding in 2012.
Originally only a web browser extension, Honey tracks sales and retailers’ promo codes, as a rival to RetailMeNot and others. What makes the extension so useful is that it automatically tries all the eligible promo codes for you during checkout then selects the one that provided the most savings and applies it on your behalf. This helps shoppers feel more comfortable with their purchases and reduces shopping cart abandonment.
The company also rolled out features to inform shoppers of an item’s price history, including the historical pricing of any product on Amazon’s marketplace. In 2017, Honey launched DropList, which would track and alert users to lower prices, as well as tools for finding travel deals.
As more consumers shifted their shopping to e-commerce merchants, Honey’s user base also rapidly grew.
Its browser extension now works across approximately 30,000 merchant websites, including fashion, technology, travel and even pizza delivery. Last year, Honey publicly shared that its 10 million members had saved over $800 million using its tools. As of today, Honey’s 17 million members have saved more than $2 billion to date.
“Honey is amongst the most transformative acquisitions in PayPal’s history. It provides a broad portfolio of services to simplify the consumer shopping experience, while at the same time making it more affordable and rewarding,” said Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal, in a statement.
“The combination of Honey’s complementary consumer products with our platform will significantly enhance our ability to drive engagement and play a more meaningful role in the daily lives of our consumers. As a partner of choice for our merchants, this is another way that we can help them build and strengthen their customer relationships, provide personalized offers, and drive incremental sales. The combination of Honey and PayPal adds another significant and meaningful dimension to our two-sided platform,” Schulman added.
Then there are PayPal’s original rivals — the world’s biggest card networks like Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. These companies are also fighting to remain relevant online, with a new PayPal competitor of their own to simplify online checkout.
With Honey, PayPal immediately shifts the battle away from the checkout page itself to instead compete against all the places people go to discover, browse, get inspired and deal-hunt — whether that’s directly on retailers’ sites or through newer platforms, like Pinterest or Instagram Shopping.
As a result of the acquisition, Honey co-founders George Ruan and Ryan Hudson will join PayPal where they’ll work on product integrations and scaling the technology to a much larger user base. Also joining is Honey’s predominantly L.A.-based team of 350 employees.
The Honey team and headquarters will remain in L.A., where they’ve just signed a lease on a new office space with expansion goals in mind.
“Combining PayPal’s assets and reach with our technology, we can build powerful new online shopping experiences for consumers and merchants,” said Hudson. “We’ll have the ability to help millions of retailers efficiently reach consumers with offers that deliver more and more value to Honey members.”
To date, Honey had raised $49 million from investors, including Ludlow Ventures, Zuma Partners, Mucker Capital, SXE Ventures, BAM Ventures, Plug and Play, Wonder Ventures, Cendana Capital, Anthos Capital and others, according to Crunchbase.
Honey was already profitable on a net income basis in 2018, PayPal notes. The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approval. It’s expected to be accretive to PayPal’s non-GAAP earnings per share in 2021.
Apple announced today an expansion of its program designed to get more students coding. The company says it has redesigned the “Everyone Can Code” curriculum with a focus on introducing more elementary and middle school students to coding, while also adding more resources for teachers, a new student guide, and refreshed Swift Coding Club materials. It’s also adding thousands of free coding sessions at Apple Stores in December, to celebrate Computer Science Education Week.
The updated curriculum is meant to make coding more approachable, Apple explains, by offering activities that are more closely connected to the students’ everyday lives. It also includes a new guide to Swift Playgrounds called Everyone Can Code Puzzles, where students can experiment with concepts and apply their understanding across over 40 hours of activities.
The guide comes with a teacher companion, which includes the solutions, assessment strategies, accessibility resources, and more.
The curriculum is also now optimized for VoiceOver, includes closed-captioned videos, and videos in American Sign Language.
In another expansion, Apple has integrated its Everyone Can Create project guides into the new curriculum. Launched last year on Apple Books, Everyone Can Create has served to get teachers to integrate things like drawing, music, filmmaking and photography into their classroom, by way of Apple technology.
Related this news, Apple says it’s increasing the number of Today at Apple coding sessions from December 1 through 15, 2019 in order to celebrate Computer Science Education Week.
The free, interactive sessions are meant to inspire young coders with block-based coding using robots, while more advanced coders use Swift Playgrounds to learn coding concepts or to code an AR project.
Some stores will also offer preschool-aged coding sessions in the new Coding Lab with Helpsters, the little monsters who star in the new Apple TV+ show, from the makers of Sesame Street. Other sessions will involve Apple Distinguished Educators, Apple Entrepreneur Camp innovators, developers, and artists. A Develop in Swift curriculum will continue to be available for high school and college students, Apple noted.
And for the seventh consecutive year, Apple will support the Hour of Code with a new Hour of Code Facilitator Guide that will help teachers and parents host sessions using Swift Playgrounds.
TechCrunch covers a lot of bases in the tech startup world, but none is more important than supporting founders — especially early-stage founders. That’s what our new event series, TechCrunch Early Stage, is all about.
These single-day events debuting next year will be highly interactive opportunities for founders to tap experts in the core startup disciplines, starting with early-stage investors (lots of investors), legal wizzes, growth gurus, product-market fit wallahs, tech stack experts, recruiting aces and much more, including workshops on pitch breakdowns.
TechCrunch’s goal is to provide founders with insights and new relationships on par with what an accelerator experience provides, only in a single day, and with a much greater variety of experts and investors.
TC Early Stage is an outgrowth of Extra Crunch, TechCrunch’s subscription-based editorial offering that focuses on deep analysis and advice around the big topics facing founders. In October this year at Disrupt SF, we brought Extra Crunch to life on its own stage and featured experts on dozens of topics, including:
How to Raise My First Dollars (Russ Heddleston, DocSend, Charles Hudson, Precursor Ventures, and Annie Kadavy, Redpoint Ventures)
How to Hire at Breakneck Speed (Scott Cutler, StockX, Harjeet Taggar, TripleByte, and Liz Wessel, WayUp)
How to evaluate talent and Make Decisions (Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Capital)
How to get into Y Combinator (Michael Siebel, Y Combinator),
How to Decide Between Bootstrapping and Raising Venture (Ben Chestnut, Mailchimp and Kathryn Petralia, Kabbage)
The sessions were mobbed. The TechCrunch team knows a winner when they one, and the result is this new event series. The first of three TC Early Stage events next year will be in San Francisco on April 28, with one in Paris on October 28 and another in New York City (date TBA).
TC Early Stage is designed for founders who are in their early innings, anywhere from pre-seed through series A, when entrepreneurs need all the guidance they can get. With that in mind, the event’s heart is dozens of breakout sessions run by with experts and curated by TechCrunch editors. The breakouts will be long on attendee questions and conversation, and the event is structured so that attendees can easily get to six to eight different breakouts over the course of the day. In addition, TechCrunch editors will hold a handful of interviews on a main stage with notable founders and investors in time slots that will not conflict with the breakouts.
Here is a sampling of the types of breakout sessions TechCrunch Early Stage will feature:
Raising a first seed round
Landing a Series A
Raising early stage investment for a SaaS company (also consumer and other major categories)
Considering your first term sheet
Growing users fast
Recruiting a fabulous team
Building a tech stack (you won’t regret)
Between sessions, attendees can also meet the experts running the breakout sessions, as well as each other, via CrunchMatch, TechCrunch’s event networking platform that connects like-minded attendees and arranges a meeting time and place.
The TechCrunch team is already busy building an all-star line-up for experts for the breakout sessions and memorable interviews for the main stage. The response from the expert community around TechCrunch has been resoundingly clear. Everyone sees the need – the deeper education of early stage founders – and they love the TC Early Stage format – a single day, highly interactive event that brings together early stage founders with an unprecedented collection of experts from across the startup ecosystem.
Partners are also very welcome! The event has many sponsorship opportunities, including breakout sessions. Contact the sales team to learn more by filling out this form.
Circ, the Berlin-based e-scooter rentals — or so-called micro-mobility — company founded by Lukasz Gadowski of Delivery Hero fame, has made a number of layoff, TechCrunch has learned.
This has seen a reduction in headcount in its HQ and other regional operations. The exact number isn’t clear, although once source placed it at around 50 people or less than 10% of employees.
Confirming the restructuring, Circ issued the following statement, citing the move to swappable batteries and a shift of focus to “efficiency and ops excellence”:
After fast growth in the initial stage now we focus on efficiency and ops excellence, including switching our operations mode to swappable battery scooters, [we] just introduced the Circ “KAISER” vehicle in a few German cities. Apart from being more cost efficient that is also more sustainable (cargo bikes instead of vans).
I managed to get Gadowski on a call and he added some further context to the layoffs, citing three reasons behind the decision to reduce headcount: seasonality, operational learnings, and indeed the move to e-scooters with swappable batteries.
“It’s a seasonal business, we have less riders in the winter than summer,” explained the Circ founder. “In winter you can expect less than 50% of your summer rides, with the current micro-mobility devices. That may change in the future”.
With regards to operational learnings, Gadowski says the company needed to learn how to operate a micro-mobility service across many markets simultaneously. “Basically figure out how to be more efficient, how to run a micro-mobility operation; it’s not optimised yet and we learned over the summer”.
He also conceded that, within the micro-mobility space more generally, there had been something of a land grab strategy that is now perhaps inevitably shifting towards greater emphasis on capital efficiency. “When we started this there was a focus on time to market but now it is not about time to market but efficiency,” he tells me.
Finally, Gadowski says the move to swappable battery technology means that Circ can run more efficiently and therefore also requires less people.
“What happens at the moment is we have warehouses where we store the scooters, maintain them and charge the batteries. Vans bring them into the city hotspots, the user rides them, then vans pick them up again where they are maintained or batteries charged. And now this changes to swappable batteries operations in which the vehicles are equipped with batteries that are swappable so you charge only the battery in the warehouse… and mechanics do light maintenance in-field. This requires less people because it is more operations efficient”.
The Circ KAISER, equipped with a swappable battery system
Meanwhile, Circ shared some updated metrics with TechCrunch. The company says it has enabled approximately 10 million rides to date and has 3 million registered customers. It operates in more than 40 cities across 14 European countries, in addition to United Arab Emirates.
In addition, I’m told that this year Circ has seen “positive unit economics” in cities in about 1/3rd of its countries (5 out of 14). “In 2020 we expect to be unit economic profitable across the group,” a spokesperson tells TechCrunch.
Circ — then called Flash —raised €55 million in Series A funding in January, with Target Global leading the round via its mobility fund.
A little over a year after the dissolution of the once high-flying blood testing startup Theranos, another startup has raised over $27 million to breathe new life into the vision of bringing low-cost blood tests to point-of-care medical facilities.
“More and more consumers are refusing to accept the status quo of healthcare and are saying no to expensive tests, inconvenient appointments and little to no access to their own test results,” said Jeff Hawkins, the president and chief executive of Truvian, in a statement. “In parallel, retail pharmacies are rising to fill demand, becoming affordable health access points. By bringing accurate, on-site blood testing to convenient sites, we will give consumers a more seamless experience and enable them to act on the vast medical insights that come with regular blood tests.”
Hawkins, the former vice president and general manager of reproductive and genetic health business at Illumina, is joined by a seasoned executive team of life sciences professionals including Dr. Dena Marrinucci, the former co-founder of Epic Sciences, who serves as the company’s senior vice president of corporate development and is a co-founder of the company.
As part of today’s announcement, the company said it was adding Katherine Atkinson, a former executive at Epic Sciences and Illumina, as its new chief commercial officer, and has brought on the former chairman of the Thermo Fisher Scientific board of directors, Paul Meister, as a new director.
The ultimate goal, according to Hawkins, is to develop a system that can be installed in labs and can provide accurate results in 20 minutes for a battery of health tests from a small sample of blood for as low as $50. Typically, these tests can cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars — depending on the testing facility, says Hawkins.
Using new automation and sensing technologies, Truvian is aiming to combine chemistries, immunoassays and hematology assays into a single device that can perform standard assessment blood tests like lipid panels, metabolic panels, blood cell counts, and tests of thyroid, kidney and liver functions.
The company’s system includes remote monitoring and serviceability, according to a statement from Truvian. Its dry reagent technology allows materials to be stored at room temperature, removing the need for cold chain or refrigerated storage. According to a statement, the company is working to receive a CE Mark in the European Economic Area and submitted to the FDA for 510(k) clearance along with a “clinical laboratory improvement amendments” waiver application to let the devices be used in a retail setting or doctor’s office.
“We don’t believe that single drop of blood from a finger stick can do everything,” says Hawkins (in opposition to Theranos). “Fundamentally as a company we have built the company with seasoned healthcare leaders.”
As the company brings its testing technology to market, it’s also looking to compliment the diagnostics toolkit with a consumer-facing app that would provide a direct line of communication between the company and the patients receiving the results of its tests.
Truvian’s data will integrate with both Apple and Google’s health apps as well as reside on the company’s own consumer-facing app, according to Hawkins.
“At the end of the day precision medicine is going to come from integrating these data sources,” says Hawkins. “I think if we pull off what we want we should be able to make your routine blood testing far more accessible.”