Amino raises $25M. Read a VC’s Thoughts From Pre-Launch To Now.

Amino just raised a new $25M round from a great group of healthcare VC’s and angels. Before I go further, a big thank you to all the hardworking and talented Aminos who I had the privilege of meeting at a recent team lunch.

In hindsight, a perfect storm came together to potentially knock this investment off course. Not only has there been a broader slowdown in the venture landscape, the past six months have brought massive healthcare fear, uncertainty, and disorder.

In the spirit of transparency, and since I like doing fundraising announcements differently, I’m also sharing some of my pre-launch internal investment memo (with the blessing of David Vivero, Amino’s CEO). I’ll also share why angels even *enter* at this kind of valuation and a bit more about a public healthcare company board member/executive who is joining Amino’s board.

First, some background to set the stage, straight from my 2015 pre-launch internal CRV memo:

Amino believes that, like other industries, the demand for information in an industry eventually reaches a state where one brand gives consumers all data necessary to make their own purchase decisions, as soon as the data becomes available. The last five years have planted the seeds for this transition to take place in healthcare.

In 2013, a Pew Internet survey found 125M+ Americans owned smartphones, and a Google/Nielsen study found that typical smartphone users searched for healthcare topics twice per month — a rate higher than social, restaurant, or travel searches — meaning about 3B healthcare-related searches occurred last year on mobile devices alone. Recently, Google announced that 1 in every 20 of their searches are related to healthcare and occur across desktop and mobile.

Amino is a new way for all consumers to get facts about their healthcare. The company is built on the most comprehensive database of real healthcare experiences, combined with data visualizations and the latest medical guidelines, to provide transparency for consumers with regards to their conditions, treatment options and costs.

In the long run, Amino aims to become the #1 trusted brand and consumer interface to healthcare, directing spending within the largest consumer economy in the U.S.

Amino is uniquely positioned with enough proprietary and difficult-to-access data to be able to kick start a trusted consumer healthcare experience. This experience aims to be compelling enough to become the first stop when a consumer needs anything answered related to their health. Over time, this should create a valuable brand and “first stop” that is monetizable in a variety of ways.

Demand for online healthcare information is strong, and Amino believes it is the next platform to serve consumers. The last great web consumer brand in healthcare was started twenty years ago (WebMD), and remains a static source of online symptom and condition content. Until the last few years, no other form of content was available and particularly useful for consumers.

In several other industries, disruptive consumer information businesses sprouted up when significant technology changes occurred within the supply side that allowed new content to be created. Zillow harvested public records data and licensed what at the time was a recently aggregated mortgage dataset in 2005 to build its home research website and disrupt the previous leader, Realtor.com; online consumer travel grew as real-time flight pricing databases like ITA took shape.

With that background, I’ll fast forward to late 2016: I was already a happy camper seeing so much accelerated growth in the first year of being publicly launched. Their healthcare database grew to more than 220 million people, 9 billion health insurance claims, and pretty much every doctor in the U.S. In addition to its continued growth, Amino then began to ramp quickly in some new areas, which became a great opportunity to double down and support the company in its next phase.

Enter Michael and the Highland team. Michael and his team had smartly done the work ahead of time. So there was no scrambling for them relative to other firms. Michael also did something that I think investors tend to underinvest in — he spent the time ahead of a potential financing getting to know David and actually helping him.

We also had a bunch of notable healthcare angels enter at the Series C price. Speaking as someone who has been an angel investor and therefore can empathize, I’ve only invested once at a traditionally higher price than is typical for an angel, with a company called Blockchain. Since then, Blockchain has become the largest bitcoin company and wallet in the world, has quietly beat better funded and more hyped competitors, and similarly raised a huge up-round with more great things to come (more of that story here). My point is that smart, discerning angels who really know a space only try to invest at a high price if they see a potentially foundational company, and Amino is well on its way.

The good news continued to roll in. Jackie Kosecoff decided to join our board as an independent board member. Jackie is on several public healthcare company boards, like athenahealth, and a few notable private healthcare company boards. Prior to that she was a healthcare executive and a successful healthcare founder.

The past few months have certainly been an on-again, off-again storm in the world of healthcare. It’s been an almost disorienting contrast to see so many positive things happen for Amino while most of the healthcare world is getting rocked. Between angel investing, being a VC, and having been an acquired founder/CEO, I’ve been fortunate to observe across multiple industries that the strongest companies not only make it through storms, they actually get stronger during them. Amino has shown that enduring quality.

So what’s next? Well, read David’s blog post for more detail. The summary is Amino is publicly announcing several exciting initiatives — Amino for Providers, Amino Plus for Employers, and the Amino Data Platform. Amino is showing how exciting it is to have momentum in such a large market. Not only do they continue to grow increasingly valuable as a company, but as a valuable force for good in the U.S.

Here’s to David, the entire hardworking team at Amino, and helping millions more healthcare consumers.

— Rafael Corrales

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