Announcing our investment in KenSci — fighting #Deathvs.DataScience — www.kensci.com

by: Kellan Carter

Ignition has been studying vertical markets deeply over the past several years. As we familiarized ourselves, it became obvious to spend more time in advanced analytics for healthcare. While generally an overfunded and highly coveted territory for entrepreneurs and investors, it was our view that there remains a significant, unserved opportunity with advancements in AI and ML.

Several months ago, serendipitously, I was fortunate enough to see KenSci CEO, Samir Manjure, give a brief talk at a Microsoft mixer. It was immediately clear that this was an entrepreneur and company that Ignition had to be involved with.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Ignition spent significant time with Samir and his Co-Founder and CTO, Ankur Teredesai. As we became more enthused with the category and team, few notable reasons emerged for partnering with KenSci:

1. The entrepreneurs — Samir and Ankur grew up as childhood friends. They complement each other with their technical and business acumen to the point where they can finish each other’s sentences. They share the same customer approach, choosing to partner-with rather than sell-to. Ankur is a worldwide recognized thought leader in data science, a tenured professor at University of Washington Tacoma, and currently serves as Chief Information Officer of SIGKDD, the leading organization in promoting the adoption of data science. Samir brings incredible chops in understanding the business side of machine learning, having led teams in Bing, Big Data and Machine Learning groups at Microsoft. They have surrounded themselves with an outstanding and diverse team of doctors, data scientists, and machine learning engineers in their mission help society fight #Deathvs.DataScience.

2. Market dynamics — Healthcare is an incredibly convoluted category with numerous constituents — Payers, Providers, Employers, Reinsurance, etc., creating a difficult environment for early stage startups. However, there are several trends emerging creating a rich opportunity for KenSci.

First, the healthcare economics shift towards outcome-based reimbursements where providers are paid for successful outcomes instead of the number of procedures given. This forces health systems to be very prescriptive with the procedures given, creating the need for analytic tools to understand health risks, and intervene ahead.

Secondly, the increased availability and emergence of new data sets and applications whereby care givers can track physical activity of patients (fitness devices, home care monitors, nutrition, etc.) vastly increases the data available to improve care and understand risk. KenSci’s ability to navigate the complexity of the healthcare system and adapt the offering to each provider’s workflow is proving itself with the logos they are landing.

3. Customer fanaticism — For each customer we talked to, the enthusiasm was off the charts, plain and simple. We kept getting similar feedback from every reference we checked — a deeply collaborative approach; quick, seamless integration of Data Science in hospital and claims workflow; and visible ROI. From weekly trips to Singapore, to understanding and iterating to each customer’s workflow, the references to the team’s commitment to customer success were stellar.

4. Product vision and audacity — When we met the KenSci team for the first time, they shared their vision of building an ‘Intel Inside’ model for healthcare, powered by machine learning. As we got to working with them, the team turned our tempered optimism into strong conviction. They showed us a glimpse of the future of healthcare, powered by data. We have seen them take on the biggest health AI platforms and win at some of the biggest private and federal health systems, on the strength of their products ability to integrate advanced machine learning with legacy data and workflow at a fraction of the time.

5. Ecosystems — In our experience, great software companies are built around ecosystems. KenSci demonstrated two stellar partnerships that are helping them scale rapidly.

Ankur and his team of Data Scientists have been working on health AI for over four years as part of Center of Data Science at University of Washington Tacoma. After the spin out, KenSci continues to partner deeply across UW, making its platform available for researchers — a two-way collaboration that helps KenSci attract great Data Science and Clinical talent while providing researchers a sandbox to solve complex healthcare challenges.

Another big influence on KenSci’s rapid growth is their Microsoft partnership. KenSci is one of the cloud-first vertical SaaS platforms built for healthcare on Microsoft’s Cloud and Data Platform. KenSci has been very effective in partnering across Microsoft’s formidable channel program to innovate and deliver successful customer outcomes.

KenSci is now helping make healthcare more affordable, enabling value-based care and saving lives and cost for over fifteen million people.

It’s been an incredible ride thus far and everyone at Ignition looks forward to the journey ahead as Samir, Ankur, and the KenSci team solve #Deathvs.DataScience.