In being selected for Cedar-Sinai Medical Centre’s health tech accelerator, CancerAid has become the first-ever Australian startup to participate in the Los Angeles-based, Techstars-powered boot camp.
Founded in August 2015 by doctors Nikhil Pooviah and Raghav Murali-Ganesh from the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse cancer hospital in Sydney, CancerAid is a cancer support app that helps patients and their caregivers navigate through each stage of their cancer experience, receive care remotely and reduce the isolation that comes with a diagnosis. It has become the number one cancer app on the Apple Store in Australia, the UK and the USA, with more than 40,000 users across 24 countries.
In June, the founding team appeared on Channel Ten’s Shark Tank, securing a $500,000 investment from entrepreneurs Andrew Banks and Dr Glen Richards, with more than $1.3 million in capital raised by startup within the last year.
Throughout the three-month Cedar-Sinai accelerator, CancerAid will receive mentoring from the medical centre’s physicians and executive as well as executives from global entrepreneur network Techstars. The startup, which joins nine other participants, will also receive an initial investment of USD $120,000 in exchange for equity and access to Techstars’ worldwide network of investors, mentors, alumni and corporate partners.
Doctors Pooviah (CEO) and Murali-Ganesh (COO) spoke to Dynamic Business about the opportunity to participate in the Cedar-Sinai Accelerator.
DB: What growth will the accelerator help unlock?
Pooviah: The growth opportunities are the real reason we are participating and the deployment of CancerAid in one of the most reputable US hospitals, Cedars-Sinai, affords us important recognition. The network of both Techstars and Cedars-Sinai are huge and having the ability to leverage this is very valuable to us. The accelerator offers us an opportunity to expand our operations into the US market whilst leveraging the wider Techstars network helps us scale our growth. The learnings from the program help us understand the US healthcare landscape, which is crucial to entering a new market.
DB: What sort of validation does being selected provide?
Murali-Ganesh: The validation is great especially receiving it from leading institutions (both Techstars and Cedars-Sinai). It also shows the potential for health tech startups from Australia garnering interest from overseas markets and hopefully, it will bring further opportunities for us in the US and back in Australia.
DB: Why was it important to venture outside Australia?
Pooviah: One of the reasons we started CancerAid was to help as many cancer patients that we can. Expanding our operations into the US allows us the opportunity to reach millions of patients and their families. Our user base in the US had grown significantly over the past few months, so it was only natural that our operations would as well. We are a global business with our HQ in Australia, so whilst we are still looking for opportunities in Australia and will continue to do so, it is great to showcase an Australian innovation on a global scale though and this was a driver for us to participate in this program.
DB: Will you both remain in the US following the boot camp?
Murali-Ganesh: As CancerAid is a global business, we will both have to travel. At present, the US and Australia are where we see the opportunities for CancerAid and so will continue to explore them.