A San Francisco-based startup called Zephyr Health has raised $15 million in a venture capital funding round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Jafco Ventures. Zephyr analyzes data in order to help pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers better target their research efforts and the doctors with whom they should share their work.
“When we say big data at Zephyr, what we really mean is the variety of data,” founder and CEO William King said. The company’s platform collects and analyzes data from more than 2,500 public sources, as well as customers’ proprietary data, in order to provide the right information.
The underlying premise of Zephyr is to help its customers make the most of their R&D efforts, which are going up in cost while producing fewer successes overall. King said one pharmaceutical executive recently compared the industry is becoming a lot like forestry, which was thrived for many years until it didn’t. “All of a sudden, one day there are no trees,” the exec told King.
King doesn’t think Zephyr can help drug or device makers have more big wins, per se, but it can help them increase the payback on their research spending overall. The first step might be helping them discover new areas to target for research or clinical trials, while the next would be helping them make sure they present their findings or products to doctors and researchers who can best help spread the word. If there are tens of thousands of cardiologists in the United States, for example, there might be a handful who are particularly influential in certain areas.
The final piece of the Zephyr puzzle is simplicity, King said. The company uses advanced visualizations and prepackaged applications software to target businesspeople rather than statisticians or scientists. The visualization aspect is designed to be “intuitive” and “applied,” he said — meaning anybody can pick it up and know how to use it, and it’s designed specifically to solve problems in the life sciences field.
Entrepreneurs and investors are racing to create the killer application for a health care industry in the midst of a serious overhaul. The timing couldn’t be better: More data and bigger, faster, cheaper ways of storing, processing and analyzing it means technologists can unleash their creative spirit like never before. Already this year, we’ve covered five startups — including, Zephyr and, earlier on Wednesday, Lumiata — that have raised nearly $29 million in venture capital combined.
Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user Feng Yu.