(Page 2 of 2)
the human capital needed by medical product developers rather than the labs, equipment, and physical research services offered through Science Exchange.
Chaturvedi is interested in having Clora develop new features, such as customer reviews of consultants and bill-payment mechanisms, which Science Exchange has already incorporated into its platform.
The Clora team was attracted to Spark as its first lead venture investor because Spark was experienced at advancing a new trend—-making enterprise and B2B applications more “consumeresque,” Chaturvedi says.
That’s a conscious practice at the VC firm, says John Melas-Kyriazi, a Spark Capital senior associate who will be taking a seat on Clora’s board.
A theme you’ll hear over and over again in every industry, Melas-Kyriazi says, is that people lead two lives these days. The first is a streamlined consumer life due to fast, easy-to-use tech apps. But “then they get to work, sit down at a desk and work on a crappy program,” he says. Spark is actively looking for new opportunities to apply consumer design principles to business challenges, he says.
Spark has made a few forays into life sciences-related investing, but it’s best known for backing e-commerce companies such as Warby Parker and Wayfair; consumer-oriented products such as Tumblr and Oculus; and work collaboration services like Slack and Trello. Spark has offices in San Francisco, Boston and New York.
Melas-Kyriazi says the VC firm’s leadership was already generally aware of the hiring difficulties for life sciences companies when they met Chaturvedi.
“The story resonated,” Melas-Kyriazi says.
With its new capital, Clora will be working to build up its team, expand its customer base, and advance its product and technology development, says Melas-Kyriazi, who will become a company board member for the first time at Clora. Before joining Spark in 2014, he earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in engineering at Stanford University, served as CFO at Stanford-funded accelerator StartX, and co-founded the Stanford-StartX Fund, an investing entity funded by Stanford University and Stanford Hospital.
Spark was joined in Clora’s seed financing round by investors including Social Capital, Ludlow Ventures, Notation Capital, and iSeed Ventures.
The overall network of venture capital firms might become an important catalyst for the growth of Clora, Melas-Kyriazi says. He plans to encourage VC firms to spread the word about Clora to their life sciences portfolio companies that might be in need of a consultant or team member. Venture firms that incubate life sciences companies themselves might also want to use Clora to find founders or expert advisors, he says.
“We see VC firms both as channels and potential end customers,’’ Melas-Kyriazi says.