Alon Krashinsky and Brian Lovett, as well as a group of co-founders, launched Los Angeles, CA-based Lightship in 2018 to transform clinical research landscape with enterprise level, direct-to-patient clinical research software solutions and seem to be getting noticed, given a suite of elite investors just infused his organization with $20 million in Series B funds. There is little information on this stealthy venture that has been hiring Science37 talent, but one thing is for sure—the two founders are sophisticated operators when it comes to rounding up funds.
Such significant funding rounds for a somewhat “stealthy” venture gains TrialSite News Investor Watch attention. What follows is a breakdown of this new venture.
Who is behind this venture?
Among the founding group, two key individuals are Alon Krashinsky and Brian Lovett both were identified as founders of Trellis Rx. Given that was just a few years ago, we wanted to delve into this Atlanta-based venture. They apparently help health systems transform the way patients experience specialty mediation therapy. And, in fact, both Krashinsky and Lovett are still listed on the Trellis Rx website. It would appear that Trellis Rx emerged out of Francisco Partners, where Krashinsky co-founded them while working for the private equity group. Backed by Francisco Partners, Trellis Rx has grown to nearly 100 employees. With a niche focusing on on-site clinic-based specialty pharmacy services, they are inking deals with large providers.
So why are the two starting yet another venture while trying to build Trellis Rx? Wouldn’t this dilute their focus? Unless they identified an even bigger opportunity, they had to make the move to capitalize on—and clearly it is big otherwise such prominent investors wouldn’t pour $20 million in so quickly.
Undoubtedly, Krashinsky and Lovett identified multiple opportunities in the still fragmented, heavily manual-intensive clinical trials space—one desperately in need of a revolution. Perhaps they target the world of clinical trials where the next technology disruption occurs on the edge where the investigator and patient participate in the study? Hence, the pair organized a group of impressive executives from competitor Science37, CROs and other vendors to form this new company known as Lightship Software. Other co-founders include Samantha Eells who formerly worked for remote decentralized clinical trials management venture Science 37.
In addition to the co-founding group, executive leaders include the recently joined CEO David MacMurchy, Bardia Akbari, formerly the senior vice president Clinical Operations with Science37, as well as Stacie Yonkin, Chief Growth Officer as well as other executives from Southern California-based Science37, which raised lots of money but has run into troubles we wrote about last year.
What does Lightship do?
Well, they are definitely in stealth mode as they provide really no content on the website other than “Lightship is the premier provider of enterprise level, direct-to-patient clinical trial solutions.” They continue, “We engage patients at home—from recruitment through completion—and eliminate the hurdles and inefficiencies of traditional approaches.”
In their recent funding press release, founder Krashinsky communicated, “We launched over a year ago to transform the existing clinical research landscape,” and conveyed, “There is a tremendous opportunity ahead of us to enable a broader population of patients to be able to participate in research as a care option. Delivered at enterprise scale, we believe this model will accelerate clinical research by as much as 30-50%. We are thrilled to be able to work with McKesson Ventures and Define Ventures to continue to drive toward that goal.”
They conclude that they seek to revolutionize how clinical trials will be delivered in the marketplace.
Although somewhat cryptic, they offer clues. Clearly, they are capitalizing on the trend toward decentralized, patient-centric clinical trials based on a powerful confluence of forces and factors from cloud-computing and an explosion of smart phones and purpose-built apps and sensors to telehealth platforms that supported, in part, the Science37 model. Moreover, they touch on the clinical research as a care option movement, which TrialSite News writes about often. There is a trend to bring advanced research directly into the community, and there are a number of emerging models that capitalize on this trend. Perhaps Lightspace will be developing enabling technology in support of even greater patient-centricity with the broader plan of working to turn clinical trials upside down—from the top down, command and control, lengthy process to a more agile, patient-driven model. Well, we surely will support their effort should that be the case.
Why they may actually have a chance
First and foremost, the two founders have considerable pedigree working with financiers and will be able to raise more capital—which will be required. Second, they are putting together a well-founded functional team at the leadership level, inclusive of the necessary subject matter expertise and what we refer to as “vocational certainty” in the key roles. Third, the market trends are in their favor as the market for clinical research rapidly seeks new approaches as it is left with few choices otherwise. Fourth, if they can figure out a business model that not only engages but retains patients then the leverage moves from the sponsor to the patient in the clinical trials ecosystem; and finally,the clinical trials process today is hopelessly stuck in a decades’ old model that must change. Now whether it is Lightship that eventually changes it, that is another matter. But securing $20 million on a business plan nowadays isn’t necessarily easy, so there are some smart people behind this venture. Only time, and results, will tell.