Why we invested in Endiatx

Sigvards Krongorns
Verge HealthTech

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The Endiatx PillBot — the world’s first self-powered steerable capsule endoscope

Background

Sci-fi movies often depict a future where technology has advanced beyond our wildest dreams, creating new possibilities and challenges for humanity. But what if some of these sci-fi scenarios are not so far-fetched after all? Over the years, at Verge, we have invested in startups that are developing innovative solutions for various medical problems, from detecting neurodegenerative diseases years before the first symptoms appear to measuring vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate from your phone camera and many more.

Some of these technologies may seem like they belong in a sci-fi movie, but they are actually becoming a reality thanks to the rapid progress of science and engineering. We often find ourselves thinking about how lucky and fortunate we are to live at this time in history, where we get to meet amazing founders almost on a daily basis across the globe who come from various backgrounds and experiences yet share the unifying goal of fundamentally changing healthcare and bringing access to care to everyone.

Sci-fi + Exceptional Team = Magic

Torrey Smith, Co-founder/CEO of Endiatx

At the end of last year, our Managing Partner Scarlett Chen was introduced to Torrey Smith, an aerospace engineer who has built medical devices for almost his entire career and was passionately talking about ingestible robots that could swim inside your stomach, film everything and be controlled by a doctor over Zoom with a gaming controller — almost like in the movie Innerspace by Steven Spielberg. (A short 1-min clip of Torrey sharing the vision for Endiatx here)

Prototype at Endiatx office in Haywood, CA

Being fully aware of the long journey ahead, the more we got to know the founders and the rest of the team, the more we started believing in their vision. What’s more, the talent and determination of the Endiatx team was truly rare. There aren’t many founders who would be willing to become real-life test subjects and swallow more than 15 of these robots just to test the performance of the technology firsthand. This takes ‘eating your own dog food’ to another level. The claims were extraordinary enough that one of our other Managing Partners, Dr. Joseph Mocanu, did the 40-hour round-trip journey to Hayward, CA to spend a week with the team and really get to know them and their technology.

The Opportunity

Upper endoscopies involve the examination of the upper part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to help diagnose, monitor, or treat conditions. These typically include diagnosis and monitoring of upper GI bleeding, gastric ulcers, Barrett’s oesophagus, persistent indigestion, and gastric cancers, among others, and are a critical component of modern medicine. Endiatx aims to tackle this segment of the endoscopy market first.

Although upper endoscopies are an outpatient procedure, they are still invasive and often require sedation and the suppression of the gag reflex. Moreover, they are costly procedures that can only be performed in clinical settings. As such, this limits the accessibility of a critical component of modern diagnostic medicine. The cost for upper endoscopies in the US ranges from $900 to $2,000.

Talking about numbers, there were 69.1M upper endoscopies conducted globally in 2021, and while the traditional endoscopy market is expected to grow at 1–2% annually, we expect Endiatx to catalyze the expansion of the service due to their ability to enable true remote endoscopies.

Funding Round

Verge co-led this Seed funding round to help Endiatx reach their next technical milestones (achieving a true MVP), get to the FDA pre-submission, and launch their first clinical trials.

What’s Next?

As healthtech investors, we dream of accessible and affordable sci-fi innovations that could eliminate diseases and improve people’s lives. When we meet an exceptional team that is working on something groundbreaking and can deliver what they promise, magic happens. We are able to provide them with the resources and support they need to bring their vision to life (or at least part of the way there) and we couldn’t be happier about it. With the right team and the right technology, anything is possible.

We couldn’t be more excited to see what the future holds for Endiatx and the impact it will have on people’s lives.

And if you’re building anything else sci-fi in the healthtech space that can impact millions, please reach out to us — we’d love to connect with you!

Sigvards Krongorns

Associate @ Verge HealthTech Fund

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