When doctors are formulating how to deliver the appropriate treatment to the right patient, they have two options – clinical trials and real world evidence. While clinical trial methods are well established, the potential of leveraging real world evidence has gone untapped…until now. Inspired by researchers at Harvard Medical School, Aetion is the platform that synthesizes data and presents real world evidence needed to deliver value-based healthcare quickly. Streamline the process, the company fosters collaboration and is already partnered with global biopharma organizations to unlock evidence by leveraging real world data.
AlleyWatch sat down with CEO Carolyn Magill to discuss the company’s origin, future plans, and its latest round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We announced that we raised $36.4M in a Series B round. The round was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and included, as a new investor, Amgen Ventures alongside existing investors Flare Capital Partners, Lakestar, and Oxeon Ventures. So far, we have raised a total of $50M from healthy Series A, B, and seed rounds from this all-star group of investors.
Tell us about Aetion.
Aetion, headquartered in New York City, is a leading health care technology company that delivers the real-world analytics and evidence needed for developers and purchasers of medical treatments to thrive in value-based care. Our platform uses the everyday clinical and financial interactions of the health care system to unlock essential evidence about the effectiveness and value of treatments. Founded by Harvard Medical School faculty members and a big data pioneer, Aetion enables biopharma companies and payers to collaborate in real-time to develop therapeutic insights so that patients get the most clinically effective — and cost-effective — care
As faculty at Harvard Medical School, Sebastian Schneeweiss, M.D., Sc.D. and Jeremy Rassen, Sc.D. had first-hand experience in the science for creating real-world evidence to measure the effectiveness, safety and value of medical treatments. However, there wasn’t a technology platform that allowed the health care field to apply that science at the speed and scale required by the market. That’s why they founded Aetion in 2013, and quickly joined forces with leaders in fintech, to create the industry’s most robust science, analytics and collaboration platform for real-world evidence.
How is Aetion different?
There are a number of organizations that have access to real-world data and are trying as of late to make inroads into this space, but Aetion was built for this purpose. We are rooted in science and our founders have been attacking real-world evidence for two decades. Aetion’s patented technology enables the accuracy, replicability and transparency that customers require as they use real-world evidence to align with value-based care.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Our most significant traction to date has been with global biopharma organizations. More recently, we’ve progressed with multiple payer partnerships. Our direct/indirect payer clients include large national and large regional payers.
What’s your business model?
We provide our clients an annual license for platform self-service, which is specific to the use case — e.g., market access vs. safety monitoring — as well as the disease area. For complex questions, Aetion offers tailored analytical solutions. The Aetion Evidence Platform is offered as a service that can be deployed in the cloud, on-premise or as a hybrid data network.
How has your business changed since we last spoke in the spring of 2017?
Along with my joining, our Series B and NEA/Mo Makhzoumi coming on board, we’ve continued to significantly grow our commercial footprint along with our technology, science and support teams to ensure we deliver on our biopharma and payer customers’ expectations. We’ve also made some key executive hires, with others in the pipeline.
What are some interesting outcomes you have seen from your partners using your platform that you can share?
We have received positive feedback from our biopharma and payer customers about how Aetion enables quicker decisions about providing the right drugs for the right patients at the right time. Specific use cases include helping clients get drugs on the market faster, demonstrating when a label expansion is appropriate, figuring out which drugs are most effective for subsets of the population, and discovering which should be the first line therapy. This has led to better targeted investment/spend and, most importantly, better health outcomes.
What was the funding process like?
The funding process went well right from the very beginning, with tremendous interest from both the venture capital investor community and strategic investors. Bill Geary, our Series A lead investor from Flare Capital, set a high bar for what we look for in an investor. He has an incredible mix of expertise as a former CFO with wisdom about our space and experience scaling organizations. That’s why when we met with NEA, one of the country’s oldest and largest VCs, things fell into place so quickly — Mo Makhzoumi stood out from the start. It was clear he brought keen understanding of our growth potential, and the depth of NEA’s relationships with the most innovative companies in health care and technology. Beyond that, our investors are mission-driven and fun. This makes our board dynamic especially productive.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
I’d say raising the capital while staying heads down on the business you have to run is a big challenge, for any hypergrowth company. For example, when one of our customers approached us to invest, we moved forward and at the same time decided not to open up the round further to strategic investors. It was a tough call, but we were committed to having the fundraise be more a propellant, less a distraction.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
There were a number of factors beyond our commercial success to date. For example, our platform can help drugmakers meet the goals of the 21st Century Cures Act, a federal law that authorizes spending toward projects that accelerate drugs and other medical products.
More broadly, if we want to truly shift to a value-based care world, we need to be focused on products that are removing cost from the system, and are providing a clear and quantifiable ROI to large, risk-bearing incumbents. Our unique, science-driven analyses drive business decisions that deliver significant return on investment for a wide range of health care players.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Aetion’s funding to date will be used to meet growing demand for its unique software platform, and to advance the global adoption of real-world evidence in accelerating the development and impact of treatments. We will use the funding to expand our team across a number of areas, including leaders who have biopharma and benefit design expertise. With our platform, we plan to build it out to further support specific and complex therapeutic areas.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
We’re all consumers and funders of American health care. When we fundraise, we’re not only speaking to our audience as potential investors, but also as potential benefactors — for their own health or for folks they care about. So I’d say to companies looking to raise capital, make sure you solve a problem that matters, one that your target investors are personally invested in. This obviously helps from an employer brand standpoint as well.
And if you’re not looking to raise funds, the same is true. Make sure you’re building a business you’re truly passionate about, and stay close to your customers and stay focused on solving real unmet needs.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Our biggest goals for 2018 include: expanding on our neutral platform that serves life sciences and payers as they engage in value-based care and outcomes-based contracting; enhancing our go-to-market resourcing and execution; and, investing in team and professional development.
What’s your favorite rooftop bar in NYC to unwind?
Refinery on 38th. A true escape, smack in the center of midtown.