I’m really excited to have been able to invest in Respirix. Based in San Francisco, Respirix is a healthcare company on a mission to revolutionize cardiac monitoring. Respirix is developing a novel approach using software and hardware to measure hemodynamic parameters (that currently require expensive and invasive implants) at low cost and non-invasively. The technology has wide potential, but they are initially focused on bringing a game-changing monitor for congestive heart failure (CHF) patients to market that will allow their physicians to monitor them remotely and help prevent dangerous and expensive hospitalizations.
Heart disease is something I personally care about because it’s impacted my family directly in the past: several of my grandparents and pets died from heart disease (and some specifically CHF). Now, there are many companies chasing heart failure -- it is a very big market. Every year in the United States, about one million CHF patients are hospitalized for what is called “decompensation” (fluid retention in the body and lungs); the estimated cost of these hospitalizations in the U.S. for 2010 was $39.2 billion, and that number is forecasted to reach $70 billion by 2030. Importantly, over 50% of CHF patients are readmitted to the hospital within 6 months of discharge.
Today, there is only one FDA-approved device for CHF patients to monitor their status at home. It’s an implant that costs $18,000 and gets placed permanently inside the pulmonary artery in the heart through a surgical procedure. Despite these challenges, this technology was acquired for $455 million before selling a single device when it was demonstrated that the daily measurements it provided could predict decompensation in advance and allowed physicians to have patients take medication that reduced CHF hospitalizations by 38% in a 470 patient trial.
Now, imagine that instead of having a chip placed inside your heart for life, you simply had to breathe into a sensor and get the same analysis of your condition. Sounds amazing, right? That is precisely what Respirix is doing. Respirix’s approach involves using precise analysis of breath exhalation (proprietary signal along with machine learning) to monitor changes in pressure caused by the pulmonary vasculature, which may be a more sensitive indication of pulmonary artery compliance.
So far, the Respirix team has accomplished a number of important milestones, including building over twenty of their Cardiospire devices, acquiring animal model data, starting multiple clinical trials, winning grants, and recruiting a strong team and advisors.
If successful, Respirix’s first product would make it a lot less invasive and easier for CHF patients to have their health monitored at home. I know startup risks are large and the probability of success is generally low, but Respirix has a differentiated approach and has gotten very solid results to date, and they are tackling a huge market opportunity. That being said, I like that the CEO has a lot of personal skin in the game and cares passionately about seeing the Respirix solution become reality. I’m proud to have invested alongside Synergy Ventures, Signatures Capital, Theranova, and StartX.
I’m personally excited about the company because given my family history, I recognize that there is a strong need for new technologies to treat heart disease more effectively, at lower cost, and with increased patient access.
What I love:
I’m really excited to have been able to invest in Contraline. Based in Charlottesville, Virginia, Contraline is a medical device company developing the first long-lasting, non-hormonal, and reversible male contraceptive.
The company was started by a founder (fellow immigrant!) who is passionate about giving men more options and responsibility in contraception. He wrote essays to get into college about the lack of a male birth control pill and has been working tirelessly to recruit a strong team of scientists with an actual lab and tangible progress towards clinical trials. If successful, the product would be game-changing, and I acknowledge the risks are very large and probability of success low. I like that the founder is so committed to seeing his vision turn into reality. I’m proud to have invested alongside Jason Calacanis, Mike Savino, LAUNCH, Founders Fund, FundRx, and Abstract Ventures.
I’m personally excited about the company because the options for men are indeed very limited (either not very effective or permanent and painful). 73% of couples in the world rely on female partners for contraception. I believe the societal and social impact from giving men more options and responsibility would greatly benefit gender relations and couple dynamics overall. And I like that there are defensible scientific advances at the core of this technology that have the chance to be executed upon by a good team.
Couples and physicians can register their interest in Contraline here:
Here is recent press coverage on the company:
What I love:
(I'm finally getting around to posting abbreviated deal memos for the investments I've made so far. I'm following Jason's advice from Angel about posting these online as blog posts. I'm doing this more for my own benefit of analyzing how I make investment decisions and tracking that over time. This also keeps me accountable and allows me to give a small shout out to the team I'm supporting. Below is the first such abbreviated deal memo post of several to come soon.)
I’m really excited to have been able to invest in Cafe X. Based in San Francisco, Cafe X designs, manufactures, and operates Robotic Coffee Bars that serve specialty coffee from local roasters.
The company was started by a founder who loves good coffee but hates waiting in line for it and inefficiency in general. He dropped out of college and sold his car to buy his first robot and start working towards what Cafe X would become. Since that time, he and his team have launched three live locations in SF that have awesome customer reviews. I’m proud to have invested alongside Jason Calacanis, LAUNCH, Khosla Ventures, Social Capital, Felicis Ventures, The Thiel Foundation, Innospring, and Base Ventures.
I’m personally excited about the company because I believe in the potential of robotics to automate work and produce a high-end experience for more people at lower cost. I like that the founder has been able to execute and bring to market a product that has been bringing joy to many repeat customers. It’s not that I believe that a robot is always better than a barista or that I don’t appreciate the craftsmanship of an amazing, handmade product; I just believe that there is great value in the technology that Cafe X is developing and that it can be a great fit in many situations.
Here is recent press coverage on the company:
Curbed, CBS SF, Fast Co. Design, ABC7 News, Barrons, SF Chronicle, MIT Technology Review
What I love:
Here is a video of the Robotic Coffee Bar 2.0 machine that Cafe X launched last week: