Kyle Lui, Principal at DCM Ventures, outlines how applied AI startup Mendel.AI can drastically improve the healthcare industry.
AI is eating the world.
Since Marc Andreessen famously said in 2011 “Software is eating the world”, his predictions have largely proven out to be true. During the last six years, Amazon’s market cap surpassed then doubled the valuation of Wal-Mart — a brutal display of relentless execution powered by superior software. Traditional industries from CPG, Retail and Automotive have all completed major acquisitions or investments into startup with disruptive software & technology. Then in 2016, Google’s Deepmind developed AlphaGo which was able to beat the world’s best Go player. Interest in artificial intelligence and machine learning has clearly skyrocketed.
When I first started covering AI, the concept of a machine replacing a knowledge worker’s role seemed like a distant future. For example, when we first starting tracking x.ai’s progress in 2014, the idea that a machine could schedule all your meetings seemed crazy. Today, it seems inevitable. As every startup we were evaluating began to include an AI or Machine Learning story, I began digging into the areas where applied AI could revolutionize technology lagging industries. Healthcare, a nearly $3 trillion market, is certainly an industry that can leverage the power of machines. As costs continue to skyrocket, healthcare has the opportunity to leverage AI for everything from drug discovery to disease diagnostics, all while making humans more efficient. That’s when I came across Mendel.ai.
Mendel applies artificial intelligence to better match cancer patients with their best treatments, starting with clinical trials. Mendel’s founder, Karim Galil, is a fast talking, passionate Egyptian-born physician who told me a story of the overwhelming number of new clinical trials that come to the market every year, many of which go unfilled. At the same time, patients are ill-equipped to evaluate which treatments are truly best for them. Cancer centers and oncologists spend a disproportionate amount of time matching patients to potential trials — reading through tons of PDFs where relevant data on both sides — patient data and trial requirements are often in unstructured data. What used to take a cancer team tens of hours can now be done by Mendel in one-tenth the time. But the model isn’t fully reliant on a machine at this point, and nor should it be. Results are still validated by a human, With each successful match, Mendel’s AI is also learning. Given Karim’s background, Mendel has built a team of physicians in Egypt that are trained in AI annotation to provide efficiencies.
This has drawn the attention of some of the world’s largest cancer treatment centers including UCLA-affiliated Comprehensive Blood & Cancer Center (CBCC) in Bakersfield, Calif. For a seed stage startup, Mendel has already made tremendous technological and commercial progress. For DCM, we’re excited to partner with Karim and the Mendel team to contribute to a future where AI eats the world — in a good way.
Kyle Lui is a Principal at DCM Ventures. Kyle is interested in the intersection of artificial intelligence and B2B software.