This 16-slide presentation helped a clinical trials startup win over investors after ditching its old product to solve a $50 billion problem for Big Pharma
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- Inato, which matches pharma companies with hospitals for clinical trials, just landed $20 million.
- The startup raised fresh funding after restarting from zero with a new product and client base.
- We got an exclusive look at the 16-slide pitch deck Inato used to sell its updated strategy.
Three months after raising $14 million in Series A funding in February 2020, Inato’s founders realized they were making the wrong product.
The Paris-based startup was founded in 2016 to help pharmaceutical companies find the right sites to conduct their clinical trials. But after the Series A, Inato discovered that the companies were still choosing the same sites over and over — large academic hospitals, where the majority of clinical trials are already conducted.
According to Inato CEO and cofounder Kourosh Davarpanah, a wealth of community trial sites, including mid-size hospitals and research institutions, wanted to participate in the companies’ research, which would also bring patient diversity to the trials. But the sites were struggling to build relationships with the drug companies.
“Those sites were reaching back out to us, like, can you help us get selected? We’re super excited about the study, we have no competition, we have the research experiences, and none of that is getting captured in the questionnaires that the pharma companies send,” Davarpanah told Insider. “We thought this was so compelling that we just dropped everything and focused on those sites.”
So Inato pivoted, wiping its slate of clients clean and using the initial Series A funding to power its new vision, connecting pharma companies with more community trial sites to decrease competition with other companies over the same limited number of academic hospitals and improve diversity in clinical trials.
Three years later, the startup raised $20 million in Series A-2 funding to keep going. Cathay Innovation, one of the lead investors in Inato’s Series A, led the March funding round, joined by previous investor Obvious Ventures and new investors La Maison and Top Harvest Capital. In total, Inato has raised $36 million.
Now, pharma companies post their clinical trials onto Inato’s platform, and sites can apply for the trials they’re interested in. Inato also collects data on the sites’ past performance and monitors them throughout the trials, so pharma companies can be sure they’re not betting on unreliable researchers.
“One simple comparison I could make is that you could rent out a house through Craigslist rather than going through Airbnb, but the information and the trust isn’t there, so you wouldn’t take that chance,” Davarpanah. “Now we have more, better data, so we act as this trusted third party that allows them to jump in and partner with these sites.”
Inato provided Insider with the pitch deck it used to raise $20 million in Series A-2 funding. The company removed financial details from the presentation before sharing it with Insider.
See the 16-slide pitch deck Inato used to raise $20 million.
Inato helps Big Pharma companies diversify their clinical trials by connecting them with trial sites that have been largely overlooked.
Over time, the cost of developing new drugs has gone up. Now, clinical trials tend to cost pharma companies more time and money in the $50 billion industry.
The data cited in this slide is from a 2016 study in the Journal of Health Economics.
Davarpanah said trials have become more expensive because pharmaceutical companies are working with the same academic hospitals and thus competing for the same patients. This can also cause delays in the trials and force companies to seek out more trial sites to ensure enough patients get enrolled, he said.
“No matter the tools we were giving them, they were still going out to the same sites,” Davarpanah said about how pharma companies were responding to Inato’s previous approach.
Pharma companies would typically reach out to a subset of sites to set up their trials. Instead, through Inato’s platform, pharma trial sponsors post their opportunities, and Inato’s tech recommends trials to certain community sites based on their specialties and past performance.
Davarpanah said Inato “went back to zero revenue, no product, no clients, nothing” in order to create its new platform that focuses on community sites rather than academic research centers.
Inato’s platform is free for community sites to use. The startup helps the sites find the right trials for them, and monitors their performance throughout trials to improve future recommendations.
Davarpanah said Inato currently has about 2,500 sites across 60 countries on its platform.
Ten of the biggest pharma companies in the world, by number of trials run, are working with Inato to post trial opportunities on Inato’s platform. Sanofi is one of Inato’s main customers.
Sanofi and Inato recently announced an expanded partnership that will give the pharma company access to more than 350 community research sites through Inato’s platform to conduct immunology trials.
Pharma companies pay a fixed fee to partner with Inato, and then pay an additional fee based on how the site selected through Inato’s platform performs.
Inato gets rewarded when it matches up pharma companies with sites that perform well. For example, if a company pays Inato a fixed $150,000 fee up front, and the company then picks a site through Inato’s platform that promises to enroll 100 patients, the company pays a percentage of $150,000 as an additional fee based on how many patients out of 100 the site does enroll, Davarpanah said.
In the US, Inato plans to use its platform to help pharma players include a more representative patient population in their trials as the companies adapt to new FDA requirements for clinical trial diversity.
According to new legislation enacted in December, the Food and Drug Administration will now require researchers to develop strategies to ensure their patient populations in clinical trials reflect real-world patient diversity.