MANILA – Mobile health technology company mClinica announced a recently-closed round of funding from Kickstart Ventures, Inc., and foreign venture capitalists 500 Startups from Silicon Valley and IMJ Investment partners from Japan.
The amount of investment remains undisclosed, but founder Farouk Meralli said the capital will be used to fuel mClinica’s SEA expansion, starting with Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.
The company currently has a growing network of over 1400 pharmacies nationwide on its platform and access to over 20 million customers. One in every two independent pharmacies in the Philippines is now part of mClinica, making it the largest pharmacy network in the country.
“We have been waiting for a solution like this. With mClinica, we now have new ways to access the pharmacy channel more and gather data in the process. This was non-existent before,” Lito Ardeta, Philippines Country Manager, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.
mClinica creates a digital infrastructure connecting pharmaceutical companies directly to pharmacies to make healthcare better for the patient. The Philippines was selected as its pilot market in view of the high prices of medicines, a highly-fragmented status of independent pharmacies, and data scarcity.
Farouk Meralli, a 28-year old Harvard School of Public Health graduate worked as an executive in strategy and management for Roche, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer before taking the entrepreneurial route and founding mClinica. Meralli discovered first-hand the challenges pharmaceutical companies face in many emerging markets.
“While emerging markets were growing rapidly, we did not have access to the same data we had in more mature markets. The issue could not be solved by simply plugging into an existing technology infrastructure – that did not exist. mClinica was born to build that infrastructure – a smart digital network, powered by mobile, that could generate data that was relevant to our needs. We are now building the grid and data is our electricity,” Meralli said.
Through mClinica, drug companies can reach pharmacies on a large scale through mobile phones and furthermore create programs that help patients better afford their medicine, be better educated about the medicines they take, help improve adherence and overall create better health outcomes.
These pharmaceutical companies also receive new and valuable sources of data that have never been available before, helping to reach new levels in the Big Data revolution.
Kickstart led this funding round, providing growth capital for mClinica as well as opening doors to corporations and overseas markets to support a more aggressive expansion plan. As a member of Innov8 Sparks, the network of technology startup support and funding initiatives founded by members of the SingTel Group such as SingTel Innov8 (Singapore), AIS The Startup (Thailand), Kickstart Ventures (Philippines), Optus-Innov8 Seed (Australia), and Telkomsel Teman Dev (Indonesia), Kickstart would be able to give mClinica access to a combined mobile customer base of over 550 million in 25 markets across Asia and Africa.
“mClinica is improving medical retailing for patients and retail customers, drug stores, and large pharmaceutical firms. By combining proprietary software solutions with genuine insight into patient needs, a deep understanding of the pharma industry, and on-the-ground retail experience in emerging markets, mClinica is creating real value throughout the ecosystem, and their traction shows it,” enthused Minette Navarrete, President of Kickstart.
Both Dave McClure, Founding Partner of 500 Startups and Koichi Saito, Director of IMJ Investment Partners shared Navarrete’s view of mClinica. “mClinica will change the way Big Pharma plays in emerging markets,” McClure declared while Saito noted that “mClinica is the most exciting mobile health startup we have come across. They have been able to show incredible growth based on a unique double bottom line business model – the better they do as a business, the better patients do.”
This is the 19th investment for Kickstart Ventures in just over two years, underscoring the Globe subsidiary’s role as the Philippines’ most active institutional fund for seed and early-stage digital startups.