The sweet smell of success....
As early stage investors, we spend much of our time searching and hoping for signs that we’ve made the right investment decision. Sadly yet predictably, these signs rarely materialize and within the first 12 months we have a pretty good idea of what is to come. It’s instinctive, just like when you meet somebody for the first time…you just know and the hard realization sets in: it’s going to be a slog….
In some rare cases however, you get an early whiff that something special is happening. It's magical, a little like the smell of spring after a long winter. You recognize it, but are not sure you should believe it, yet the facts encourage you and you begin to dream.
We have been fortunate to experience this a handful of times and it has led to our three Unicorns: Skype, Wix and Walkme. Each in their own way crushed it out of the gate….with very tangible accomplishments that gave us the sense that they had the “magic”.
Having a front row seat to this is memorable and pushes you to yearn for it. In fact, it becomes an obsession that guides everything you do and when you think you have the next one, you begin to dream again to the point of becoming intoxicated…… Fortunately, that day has arrived once more for us and the company is called K Health.
K Health is company with an ambitious goal: FREE primary healthcare for the world. This goal is the result of a simple yet sad observation: more than 5 billion people around the world don’t have access to basic healthcare, and this includes near 25% of the US population. With this observation in mind, the company founders embraced Buckminster Fuller’s advise:
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”
The new model is 100% software and the result is K: the world’s first accurate and trusted AI driven medical information layer, infinitely scalable and always FREE….all you need is a smart phone and you have the collective knowledge of thousands of doctors in your pocket.
So what are the tangible accomplishments feeding the "smell test"? Here are three which converge nicely with our previous Unicorns:
Make something simple out of a complex problem. The K Health team has translated 400 million medical charts including diagnostics and treatments into a smart mobile app, in essence creating the world’s first automated doctor. This translation required building a complex parsing and medical ontology system and resulted in a database of 2 billion individual data points which the app can manipulate based on user interaction. Tech is a real moat.
Consumer engagement. Within a year of launch, K Health has processed more than 3 million FREE virtual “doctors visits”. These virtual “doctors visits” are the result of a lengthy dialogue with unprecedented speed and accuracy and repeat usage is staggering, suggesting that users value the experience. Users are also clamouring for additional services, suggesting that a Freemium business model is in the cards.
Industry validation. Industry giant Anthem that operates the Blue Cross brand across 14 major US states, has partnered with the company to bring the power of tech to its 41 million US customers. This is just the tip of the iceberg as the company gears up for overwhelming demand for partnerships.
There is little doubt in our mind that we have hit upon something big. The "smell of success" is in the air as this magnificent team looks to completely rethink basic access to healthcare by designing a model that does not require humans to scale. We are of course drinking the “cool-aid”, but the pattern is reminiscent of previous Unicorns. As we head into 2020, we can only be sure of one thing: the journey to FREE primary healthcare has started and K Health is going to be a major player.