Paige, the computational pathology startup targeting cancer, closes Series B at $70M

Paige, the startup that spun out of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and launched in 2018 to help advance cancer research and care by applying AI to better understand cancer pathology, is today announcing a milestone in its growth story: it has raised a further $20 million from Goldman Sachs and Healthcare Venture Partners, closing out its Series B at $70 million.

Leo Grady, Paige’s CEO, says the funding will go towards several areas.

It will be used for hiring; to continue expanding its partnerships with biopharmaceutical companies (deals that have not yet been made public); and to continue investing in clinical work, based around algorithms it has built and trained using more than 25 million pathology slides in MSK’s archive, plus IP related to the AI-based computational pathology that underpins Paige’s work. It will also be used to help it expand to the UK and Europe. Paige has a CE mark to be used clinically in both regions and the startup already has beta sites in the UK and EU, but it hasn’t had a fully commercial launch in either region, Grady said.

Paige — which has now raised more than $95 million with other investors including Breyer Capital, MSK and Kenan Turnacioglu — is keeping quiet about its valuation. But for some context, we noted that it was around $208 million when the first tranche of the round was announced — $45 million in December 2019, with a further $5 million in April. It attracted this latest $20 million in part because business has been strong, Grady noted. As a result, despite it being a generally tough climate for raising money right now, Paige didn’t face those challenges.

“The climate in which Goldman made its initial investment” — the $5 million round in April — “was when COVID-19 had hit hard and they were realising the magnitude,” Grady said. “They wanted to see how things played out for Paige in the economy. But the way it has been going has been encouraging.”

Indeed, a lot of attention these days is focused around the current public health crisis making its way around the world in the form of COVID-19, and the knock-on effects that it is having across the economy and socially. Paige’s growth in that context has been interesting.

We’re still in the early stages of understanding COVID-19 and how it interacts with other conditions (such as cancer) — and it’s not an area that Paige is directly exploring in its work. But in the meantime, its platform — based around digitised slides — has come into its own for clinicians and others who can no longer regularly physically visit laboratories.

Paige’s enterprise imaging system — the company was co-founded by Dr Thomas Fuchs, known as the “father of computational pathology” and is the director of Computational Pathology in The Warren Alpert Center for Digital and Computational Pathology at Memorial Sloan Kettering, as well as a professor of machine learning at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences; and Dr David Klimstra, chairman of the department of pathology at MSK — allows users to view digital slides remotely, and while all hardware manufacturers today have digital viewers, these are proprietary, tied to those scanners and “not built for high performance,” Grady noted.

Paige’s platform allows its users not only to share research and primary data without physically sending slides around, but to use high performance software built to “read” the data in a more comprehensive way than clinicians and researchers would otherwise be able to do. That initially has been applied to work in prostrate and breast cancers but is now also being explored around other cancers as well, Grady said. “We’re adding in information to the workflow, boosting the confidence and quality of data. The first piece [the platform and the slides] enables the second piece.”

The Goldman Sachs investment is coming from the financial services giant’s merchant banking division, and as part of it, David Castelblanco, MD at Goldman Sachs, has joined Paige’s Board of Directors.

“We have been very impressed with the company and its pace of development,” he said in a statement. “We are excited to increase our commitment to support Leo, Thomas and the Paige team’s transformative work with artificial intelligence and machine learning in the cancer field.”

“We initially invested in Paige recognizing the potential of their products to add significant value to the industry and impact the future of cancer care,” added Jeffrey C. Lightcap, senior MD of Healthcare Venture Partners. “After seeing Paige make tremendous progress in such a short period, we added to our investment to further accelerate their growth.”  

Paige, the computational pathology startup targeting cancer, closes Series B at $70M

Paige, the startup that spun out of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and launched in 2018 to help advance cancer research and care by applying AI to better understand cancer pathology, is today announcing a milestone in its growth story: it has raised a further $20 million from Goldman Sachs and Healthcare Venture Partners, closing out its Series B at $70 million.

Leo Grady, Paige’s CEO, says the funding will go towards several areas.

It will be used for hiring; to continue expanding its partnerships with biopharmaceutical companies (deals that have not yet been made public); and to continue investing in clinical work, based around algorithms it has built and trained using more than 25 million pathology slides in MSK’s archive, plus IP related to the AI-based computational pathology that underpins Paige’s work. It will also be used to help it expand to the UK and Europe. Paige has a CE mark to be used clinically in both regions and the startup already has beta sites in the UK and EU, but it hasn’t had a fully commercial launch in either region, Grady said.

Paige — which has now raised more than $95 million with other investors including Breyer Capital, MSK and Kenan Turnacioglu — is keeping quiet about its valuation. But for some context, we noted that it was around $208 million when the first tranche of the round was announced — $45 million in December 2019, with a further $5 million in April. It attracted this latest $20 million in part because business has been strong, Grady noted. As a result, despite it being a generally tough climate for raising money right now, Paige didn’t face those challenges.

“The climate in which Goldman made its initial investment” — the $5 million round in April — “was when COVID-19 had hit hard and they were realising the magnitude,” Grady said. “They wanted to see how things played out for Paige in the economy. But the way it has been going has been encouraging.”

Indeed, a lot of attention these days is focused around the current public health crisis making its way around the world in the form of COVID-19, and the knock-on effects that it is having across the economy and socially. Paige’s growth in that context has been interesting.

We’re still in the early stages of understanding COVID-19 and how it interacts with other conditions (such as cancer) — and it’s not an area that Paige is directly exploring in its work. But in the meantime, its platform — based around digitised slides — has come into its own for clinicians and others who can no longer regularly physically visit laboratories.

Paige’s enterprise imaging system — the company was co-founded by Dr Thomas Fuchs, known as the “father of computational pathology” and is the director of Computational Pathology in The Warren Alpert Center for Digital and Computational Pathology at Memorial Sloan Kettering, as well as a professor of machine learning at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences; and Dr David Klimstra, chairman of the department of pathology at MSK — allows users to view digital slides remotely, and while all hardware manufacturers today have digital viewers, these are proprietary, tied to those scanners and “not built for high performance,” Grady noted.

Paige’s platform allows its users not only to share research and primary data without physically sending slides around, but to use high performance software built to “read” the data in a more comprehensive way than clinicians and researchers would otherwise be able to do. That initially has been applied to work in prostrate and breast cancers but is now also being explored around other cancers as well, Grady said. “We’re adding in information to the workflow, boosting the confidence and quality of data. The first piece [the platform and the slides] enables the second piece.”

The Goldman Sachs investment is coming from the financial services giant’s merchant banking division, and as part of it, David Castelblanco, MD at Goldman Sachs, has joined Paige’s Board of Directors.

“We have been very impressed with the company and its pace of development,” he said in a statement. “We are excited to increase our commitment to support Leo, Thomas and the Paige team’s transformative work with artificial intelligence and machine learning in the cancer field.”

“We initially invested in Paige recognizing the potential of their products to add significant value to the industry and impact the future of cancer care,” added Jeffrey C. Lightcap, senior MD of Healthcare Venture Partners. “After seeing Paige make tremendous progress in such a short period, we added to our investment to further accelerate their growth.”  

UIPath reels in another $225M as valuation soars to $10.2B

Last year, Gartner found that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the fastest growing category in enterprise software. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that UIPath, a leading startup in the space, announced a $225 million Series E today on an eye-popping $10.2 billion valuation.

Alkeon Capital led the round with help from Accel, Coatue, Dragoneer, IVP, Madrona Venture Group, Sequoia Capital, Tencent, Tiger Global, Wellington and T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $1.225 billion, according to Crunchbase data.

It’s worth noting that the presence of institutional investors like Wellington is often a signal that a company could be thinking about going public at some point. CFO Ashim Gupta didn’t shy away from a future IPO, saying that co-founder and CEO Daniel Dines has discussed the idea in recent months and what it would take to become a public company.

“We’re evaluating the market conditions and I wouldn’t say this to be vague, but we haven’t chosen a day that says on this day we’re going public. We’re really in the mindset that says we should be prepared when the market is ready, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s in the next 12-18 months,” he said.

One of the factors that’s attracting so much investor interest is its growth rate, which Gupta says is continuing on an upward trajectory, even during the pandemic as companies look for ways to automate. In fact, he reports that recurring revenue has grown from $100 million to $400 million over the last 24 months.

RPA helps companies add a level of automation to manual legacy processes, bringing modernization without having to throw out existing systems. This approach appeals to a lot of companies not willing to rip and replace to get some of the advantages of digital transformation. The pandemic has only served to push this kind technology to the forefront as companies look for ways to automate more quickly.

The company raised some eyebrows in the fall when it announced it was laying off 400 employees just 6 months after raising $568 million on a $7 billion valuation, but Gupta said that the layoffs represented a kind of reset for the company after it had grown rapidly in the prior two years.

“From 2017 to 2019, we invested in a lot of different areas. I think in October, the way we thought about it was, we really started taking a pause as we became more confident in our strategy, and we reassessed areas that we wanted to cut back on, and that drove those layoff decisions in October.

As for why the startup needs all that cash, Gupta says in a growing market, it is spending to grab as much market share as it can and that takes a lot of investment. Plus it can’t hurt to have plenty of money in the bank as a hedge against economic uncertainty during the pandemic either. Gupta notes that UIPath could also be looking at strategic acquisitions in the months ahead to fill in holes in the product roadmap more rapidly.

While the company doesn’t expect to go through the kind of growth it went through in 2017 and 2018, it will continue to hire, and Gupta says the leadership team is committed to building a diverse team at all levels of the organization. “We want to have the best people, but we really do believe that having the best people and the best team means that diversity has to be a part of that,” he said.

The company was founded in 2005 in Bucharest outsourcing automation libraries and software. In 2015, it began the pivot to RPA and has been growing in leaps and bounds ever since. When we spoke to the startup in September 2018 around its $225 million Series C investment (which eventually ballooned to $265 million), it had 1800 customers. Today it has 7000 and growing.

Qualcomm to invest $97 million in India’s Reliance Jio Platforms

Qualcomm has become the latest high-profile investor in four-year-old Reliance Jio Platforms, which has raised more than $15.7 billion in the past 12 weeks from as many investors.

On Sunday evening, Qualcomm Ventures said it will invest $97 million in Reliance Jio Platforms to acquire a 0.15% equity stake in the top Indian telecom operator.

Steve Mollenkopf, chief executive of Qualcomm, said the firm believes that Reliance Jio Platforms, which has disrupted the Indian telecommunications market by offering cut-rate voice and data plans, “will deliver a new set of services and experiences to Indian consumers” in the future.

Reliance Jio Platforms, which competes with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea in India, has amassed nearly 400 million subscribers and has become the top carrier in the world’s second largest internet market in less than four years of its existence.

“With unmatched speeds and emerging use cases, 5G is expected to transform every industry in the coming years. Jio Platforms has led the digital revolution in India through its extensive digital and technological capabilities. As an enabler and investor with a longstanding presence in India, we look forward to playing a role in Jio’s vision to further revolutionize India’s digital economy,” said Mollenkopf in a statement.

More to follow…

A recapitalization reckoning

If you’re an angel who invested in a startup that was meant to go public in 2014, you might be getting a little bit impatient. High-risk, high-reward investing has lost its shine in this environment: the stock market is a mess these days, and you want your cash back.

Enter recapitalization events, where startups restructure their entire cap table to squeeze out old investors, bring on new ones and shift the way equity and debt is managed. For investors, it’s a killer way to enter a company on friendlier terms than normal (read: desperation), and a nice way to get liquidity on a startup you’re betting on.

For founders, it’s rarely good news, as departing investors is not a metric they’re going to add to the pitch deck. As one investor said on background, the spur of coronavirus-related recapitalization events shows “hella dilution for desperate times.”

That’s what makes Workhuman’s transparency with its recent recapitalization event all the more enticing.

Last year, the human-resources platform brought in $580 million in revenue from customers like LinkedIn, Cisco, J&J and other clients. In April, business grew 40%. Co-founder and CEO Eric Mosley says business has grown five times in size since the company pulled back from its 2014 plans to IPO. Workhuman hasn’t raised a single venture round since 2004 (and doesn’t plan to any time soon).

Being conservative has paid off; although Workhuman has operated for nearly two decades, Mosley says he thinks the company is still at the “tip of the iceberg.” The company recently had a recapitalization event to sell the stakes of its earliest investors, who cut a $200,000 check more than 20 years ago.

LogDNA announces $25M Series C investment and new CEO

LogDNA, a startup that helps DevOps teams dig through their log data to find issues, announced a $25 million Series C investment today along with the promotion of industry vet Tucker Callaway to CEO.

Let’s start with the funding. Emergence Capital led the round with participation from previous investors Initialized Capital and Providence Equity. New investors TI Platform Management, Radianx Capital, Top Tier Capital and Trend Forward Capital also joined the round. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $60 million, according to the company.

Current CEO and co-founder Chris Nguyen says the company provides a centralized way to manage log data for DevOps teams with an eye towards troubleshooting issues and getting applications out faster.

New CEO Callaway, whose background includes executive stints at Chef and Sauce Labs, came on board in January as president and CRO with an eye toward moving him into the top spot when the time was right. Nguyen, who will move to the role of Chief Strategy Officer, says everyone was on board with the move, and he was ready to step back into a more technical role.

“When we closed the latest round of funding and looked at what the journey forward looks like, there was just a lot of trust and confidence from my co-founder, the board of directors, all of the investors on the team that Tucker is the right leader,” Nguyen said.

As Callaway takes over in the midst of the pandemic, the company is in reasonably good shape with 3000 customers using the product and a strategic partnership with IBM to provide logging services for IBM Cloud. Having $25 million in additional capital certainly helps, but he sees a company that’s still growing and intends to keep hiring..

As he brings more people on board to lead the company of approximately 100 employees, he says that diversity and inclusion is something he is passionate about and takes very seriously. For starters, he plans to put the entire company through unconscious bias training. They have also hired someone to review their hiring practices to date and they are bringing in a consultant to help them design more diverse and inclusive hiring practices and hold them accountable to that

The company was a member of the same Y Combinator winter 2015 cohort as GitLab. It actually started out building a marketing technology product, only to realize they had built a powerful logging tool on the back end. That logging tool became the basis for LogDNA .

Flipkart invests $35 million in Indian giant Arvind Fashions’ unit

Flipkart on Thursday announced it has invested $35 million in Arvind Fashions for a significant minority stake in one the decades-old Indian firm’s subsidiaries as the Walmart-owned firm looks to widen its hold on fashion e-commerce in the world’s second largest internet market.

The e-commerce firm, which operates market-leading fashion e-commerce firm Myntra, said it was acquiring a stake in Arvind Fashions’ Arvind Youth Brands, which operates Flying Machine brand in India. The two companies said today the new investment strengthens their partnership as they look to serve demands and needs of the “fashion-conscious youth” in India.

91-year-old Arvind Fashions runs of the nation’s largest fashion brands, carrying apparels from Polo Assn, Arrow, GAP, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Aeropostale, the Children’s Place and Ed Hardy among other local and international firms.

“Flying Machine is a brand that is known in households across India, popular with the youth and synonymous with value and style. Through this investment, we look forward to partnering with the team at Arvind Youth Brands to continue to grow the market for its portfolio of products and enhance the strong brand equity that has been built over the last few decades,” said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, chief executive officer of Flipkart Group, in a statement.

The partnership with the Flipkart Group is aimed at helping Arvind Fashions accelerate its online growth strategy, said J. Suresh, managing director and chief executive of Arvind Fashions. “Given the strong existing relationship with the Flipkart Group, and their presence in online fashion, it was an obvious choice for us to enter into this engagement through which Flipkart and Myntra will be our preferred online partner for the Flying Machine brand, while we continue to grow our offline sales through channels like exclusive brand stores, department stores and multi-brand stores,” he said in a statement.

More to follow…

Colvin raises $15M to rethink the flower supply chain

At first glance, Colvin — which recently announced that it has raised a $15 million Series B — might look like just another flower and plant delivery company, but co-founder and CEO Andres Cester said the startup has a much grander vision.

“We were born with the ambition the company that would redesign global flower trade,” he said.

Apparently, when Cester and his co-founder/COO Sergi Bastardas started researching the flower supply chain, they found an industry that was both “fragmented” in terms of growsers and sellers, but also surprisingly centralized, with the Aalsmeer Flower Auction in the Netherlands accounting for 77% of all flower bulbs sold globally.

With all the middlemen, Cester said flowers end up being more expensive (with the growers getting a smaller share of the overall payment), and it takes longer for the flowers to reach the consumer.

So the startup created a marketplace where consumers are buying flowers from straight the growers, with Colvin as the only intermediary. That results in average savings of 50% to 100% compared to online competitors, Cester said. (For example, the bouquets featured on the Colvin homepage all cost about €33 or €34).

And while the flower business is hurting overall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bastardas said consumers are turning to online options, with Colvin seeing a fourfold sales increase year-over-year, and delivery volumes worth $1 million in a single day. The challenge, he said, has been making sure to deliver those flowers within the promised time window.

Colvin founders

Image Credits: Colvin

Cester said Colvin started by selling directly to consumers because it was a good way to build the supply from growers, and that consumer sales should a become a profitable, “cash-generating business.” However, the company’s big focus moving forward is building out its sales to flower wholesalers, who in turn sell to the retailers.

“We’re envisioning the B2B part of the business is going to drive most of the returns and valuation,” Bastardas added.

Colvin was founded in Spain and currently operates in Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal. There are no plans to come to the U.S. anytime soon, but Cester said, “We believe that if we really want to … redesign how the flower industry works, we’re going to have to land in U.S. sooner or later.”

The startup has now raised a total of $27 million. The new round was led by Italian investment fund Milano Investment Partners, with participation from P101 sgr and Samaipata.

And if you’re wondering about the name, Bastardas said the company was named for civil rights pioneer Claudette Colvin, who was arrested in several months before Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white person.

It’s an incongruous choice for a flower startup, but Bastardas said the founders took inspiration from Colvin’s story and the idea that “from several small actions, we can really change an industry.”

PQShield raises $7M for quantum-ready cryptographic security solutions

A deep tech startup building cryptographic solutions to secure hardware, software, and communications systems for a future when quantum computers may render many current cybersecurity approaches useless is today emerging out of stealth mode with $7 million in funding and a mission to make cryptographic security something that cannot be hackable, even with the most sophisticated systems, by building systems today that will continue to be usable in a post-quantum future.

PQShield (PQ being short for “post-quantum”), a spin out from Oxford University, is being backed in a seed round led by Kindred Capital, with participation also Crane Venture Partners, Oxford Sciences Innovation and various angel investors, including Andre Crawford-Brunt, Deutsche Bank’s former global head of equities.

PQShield was founded in 2018, and its time in stealth has not been in vain.

The startup claims to have the UK’s highest concentration of cryptography PhDs outside academia and classified agencies, and it is one of the biggest contributors to the NIST cybersecurity framework (alongside academic institutions and huge tech companies), which is working on creating new cryptographic standards, which take into account the fact that quantum computing will likely make quick work of breaking down the standards that are currently in place.

“The scale is massive,” Dr Ali El Kaafarani, a research fellow at Oxford’s Mathematical Institute and former engineer at Hewlett-Packard Labs, who is the founder and CEO of PQShield said of that project. “For the first time we are changing the whole of public key infrastructure.”

And according to El Kaafarani, the startup has customers — companies that build hardware and software services, or run communications systems that deal with sensitive information and run the biggest risks from being hacked.

They include entities in the financial and government sectors that it’s not naming, as well as its first OEM customer, Bosch. El Kaafarani said in an interview that it is also in talks with at least one major communications and messaging provider exploring more security for end-to-end encryption on messaging networks. Other target applications could include keyless cars, connected IoT devices, and cloud services.

The gap in the market the PQShield is aiming to address is the fact that while there are already a number of companies exploring the cutting edge of cryptographic security in the market — they include large tech companies like Amazon and MicrosoftHub Security, Duality, another startup out of the UK focused on post-quantum cryptography called Post Quantum and a number of others — the concern is that quantum computing will be utilised to crack even the most sophisticated cryptography such as the RSA and Elliptic Curve cryptographic standards.

This has not been much of a threat so far since quantum computers are still not widely available and used, but there have been a number of signs of a breakthrough on the horizon.

El Kaafarani says that PQShield is the first startup to approach that predicament with a multi-pronged solution aimed at a variety of use cases, including solutions that encompass current cryptographic standards and provide a migration path the next generation of how they will look — meaning, they can be commercially deployed today, even without quantum computers being a commercial reality, but in preparation for that.

“Whatever we encrypt now can be harvested, and once we have a fully functioning quantum computer people can use that to get back to the data and the sensitive information,” he said.

For hardware applications, it’s designed a System on Chip (SoC) solution that will be licensed to hardware manufacturers (Bosch being the first OEM). For software applications, there is an SDK that secures messaging and is protected by “post-quantum algorithms” based on a secure, Signal-derived protocol.

Thinking about and building for the full spectrum of applications is central to PQShield’s approach, he added. “In security it’s important to understand the whole ecosystem since everything is about connected components.”

Some sectors in the tech world have been especially negatively impacted by the coronavirus and its consequences, a predicament that has been exacerbated by uncertainties over the future of the global economy.

I asked El Kaafarani if that translated to a particularly tricky time to raise money as a deep tech startup, given that deep tech companies so often work on long-term problems that may not have immediate commercial outcomes.

Interestingly, he said that wasn’t the case.

“We talked to VCs that were interested in deep tech to begin with, which made the discussion a lot easier,” he said. “And the fact is that we’re a security company, and that is one of the areas that is doing well. Everything has become digitised, and we have all become more heavily reliant on our digital connections. We ultimately help make the digital world more secure. There are people who understand that, and so it wasn’t too difficult to talk to them and understand the importance of this company.”

Indeed, Chrysanthos Chrysanthou, partner at Kindred Capital, echoed that sentiment:

“With some of the brightest minds in cryptography, mathematics and engineering, and boasting world-class software and hardware solutions, PQShield is uniquely positioned to lead the charge in protecting businesses from one of the most profound threats to their future,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier to support the team as it works to set a new standard for information security and defuse risks resulting from the rise of quantum.”

K4Connect, a startup bringing tech to senior living centers, closes its $21M Series B

K4Connect, a startup focused on bringing new technologies like voice assistance, home automation, digital messaging and more to older adults and those living with disabilities, has closed on $21 million in Series B funding. The B round had originally wrapped in October 2018, but was extended with the recent addition of $7.7 million led by Forte Ventures.

Others taking part in the round include existing investors Sierra Ventures, Intel Capital, AXA Venture Partners, the Ziegler Link•Age Fund, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest, Topmark Partners (formerly Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners) and Traverse. As a result of the new funding, Forte Ventures’ Louis Rajczi will join the startup’s board. To date, K4Connect has raised $31 million in venture funding.

Image Credits: K4Connect

Notably, the additional funds were raised amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has been disproportionately impacting older adults in care facilities, cutting off their communication from loved ones and disrupting their daily activities.

The K4Connect platform, which today serves over 800 continuing care, independent living and assisted living communities across the U.S., can help to address many of the challenges these communities are now facing.

The startup was co-founded in 2013 by Scott Moody, the entrepreneur whose biometrics company AuthenTec sold to Apple, where it became the basis for Touch ID.

Now K4Connect’s CEO, Moody had moved to Raleigh, N.C. to retire, but soon realized he still had energy left to start another company. Originally, the startup’s focus had been on bringing smart home technologies together through what’s now K4Connect’s patented operating system, FusionOS. But the team hadn’t initially narrowed in on a particular market.

That changed when Moody met a man, Eric, who was an advocate for the homeless and living with MS. He told the founder that when he wakes up the morning, he has the energy for about a thousand good steps during his day — and how he uses those steps defines the quality of his life. He said the smart home tech K4Connect was developing could help him make his life better.

Moody immediately pivoted the company to redirect its focus on serving those in similar situations, which didn’t just include individuals living with disabilities but also the broader senior market.

Image Credits: K4Connect

Today, the FusionOS-powered platform integrates a suite of solutions designed for residents in independent or assisted living facilities as well as other care facilities. This includes tools to stay connected to their families though voice and video messaging, as well as those for accessing a digital resident directory, playing games, and staying informed on the latest community news — ranging from COVID-19 updates to daily meal menus to updated visitation policies, or anything else the facility wants to broadcast.

For the facilities who purchase the software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution for their communities, there are other productivity tools they can use, like those for event management, resident surveys, resident and family management, communications, prospect communications, and more. Due the coronavirus outbreak, K4Connect is even developing an expanded video chat service that will allow residents to video call staff for their requests, instead of having staff enter their rooms.

 

Another key aspect to K4Connect’s solution is its smart home automation functionality.

The company provisions Alexa devices for residents, so they don’t have to configure devices themselves — they just plug them in. It also supports other home automation devices like smart thermostats, smart lights, motion sensors, sleep tracking devices, and more. 

This is all managed by way of the company’s “K4Community” solution powered by the underlying FusionOS technology. Residents can access this as an app their own smartphones, on preprovisioned tablets, or even through digital signage in the facility itself.

The SaaS solution is priced based on per-resident basis and the cost depends on which modules the facility wants to use in their own setup. This can range from a few dollars per month per resident to tens of dollars per month per resident, Moody says, and includes support.

Image Credits: K4Connect

As it turns out, K4Connect had a bit of a head start in terms of working on solutions more specifically designed to meet the needs of its communities amid the coronavirus outbreak, thanks to advice from its investors.

“Having investors like Intel and AXA did provide a wider perspective,” says Moody. “I figured, look, they’re really concerned. They’re seeing this issue from a wider geographic perspective than we are,” he explains.

Moody already knew that even the flu impacted older adults more than the general population. Due to K4Connect’s market of seniors, he multiplied what investors were saying could be the impact of coronavirus by a much larger factor.

“We kind of saw it coming,” Moody admits. “Many people were not completely bought in yet at the end of February. But just at the start of March, we launched something called ‘Project COVID 911.’ I just thought it was going to have a significant impact on the economy, but more importantly, the people we serve. And we had to be in a position to react and support,” he adds.

“If I was wrong, then we were going to be more prepared. And if I was right, then we would be in a situation where we can actually help serve people,” says Moody.

K4Connect adjusted its roadmap to focus on specific areas, like communications, content delivery, and pre-provisioning the Alexa Dot speakers, in order to limit time spent installing in residents’ rooms, among other things. Today, its solution offers features like resident-to-resident video chat for those now stuck in their rooms, tools for booking time slots in the dining area for facilities limiting large groups, access to live streamed content — like those yoga classes you can’t attend in person — and more.

With the added funding, K4Connect, now a team of 57 full-time, plans to further expand into the senior market, including not only those in facilities and senior communities, but also those living in affordable housing on their own. The team is actively developing solutions for this market segment, Moody says.

We are incredibly fortunate in our investor relationships in that they not only believe in our vision but equally value our mission,” Moody said, in a statement about the new funding. “Forte Ventures is a prime example of that relationship and we’re proud to welcome them to the bench of our valued investors. With their support, and all of our investors, we’re continuing to accelerate to serve as many older adults through technology as possible.”