[UPDATED] Flywheel Raises $8.4m For Collaborative Computational Science SaaS

Update 6/6/2019: Added another $2.5m per SEC filing = $8.4m total

Updated 4/1/2018: Finalized at $6m.

Updated 2/12/2018 9:00am CST – “$5m closed & oversubscribed” per Olson +  additional Google Cloud Healthcare API disclosure.

Original 12/10/18: Flywheel is seeking to close a $5m series A equity investment with $4.5m already captured, according to company leaders Jim Olson and Travis Richardson.

As an Invenshure portfolio company, Flywheel provides a collaborative data management and analysis platform built specifically for scientists and the researcher’s workflow.

We connected with the duo to learn more about their inflection point:

What are your respective titles, when did you join Flywheel, and what were you doing before that?

Travis Richardson – President, joined Flywheel about two years ago; Previously I was with White Pine Consulting, prior to that I ran a strategy group inside Schneider Electric. Before Schneider I was with DTN and Oracle.

Jim Olson – COO, joined Flywheel in June 2018; Previously, I cofounded Livio Health Group with Mike Nathan, and prior to that I was CEO/President at FourCubed.

What is the operating dynamic between the CEO and COO as it pertains to Flywheel

Travis:  I realized that in order to scale was to establish reference customers and I have spent a lot of time working on strategy and external prospect/customer development.  As we started delivering product and building the team, that began with customer experience and a focus on formalizing our regulatory approach.

Jim: I am more internally focused with an emphasis on fundraising.

In your own words, what is Flywheel?

Travis: a research informatics platform that enables biomedical researchers to better capture, manage, and scale complex computing while improving collaboration.  Unlike other platforms that focus on tabular data, we focus on different types of medical imaging data.

From a technology perspective, what are you doing that is new and novel?

Travis: Creating an integrated end-to-end research flow that accommodates multiple types of image modalities and meta-data organized into a research context combined with scalable computing using artificial intelligence and machine learning.  That, and bringing the collaborative aspect to the table which can securely support global projects.

What problem does Flywheel solve?

Jim: for medical researchers who receive NIH funding – they have a need for better data management and collaboration, which Flywheel brings to the market in a compliant way.

Who is the target market?

Travis: There are four closely related segments: first, pure academics doing imaging research on brain development. Second, is a set of imaging research around diseases. Third, clinical researchers who study patients, and finally, those researchers on the pharmaceutical side who are concerned with drug development.

How many paying customers do you count?

Travis: Roughly 20, including ongoing paid projects with Stanford, Columbia, Penn, and USC.

How big is your addressable market?

Jim: We estimate our total addressable market (TAM) to be $1.5b conservatively – larger than I would have imagined before joining Flywheel.

Travis: …and our customers are taking us into new segments.

How do customers pay?

Travis: Broadly speaking, it’s a saas-based business that can either be flat rate or session-based (which is common measurement in research environment).

How many overall employees does Flywheel count today?

Jim: 15 full time and about 4 part time…we are in a hiring phase across the company from sales and marketing through engineering.

How much equity has Flywheel raised so far and from who?

Jim: Flywheel has an exclusive license to the intellectual property that was sourced from Stanford University in 2015 – after millions of dollars in previous grant research investment and open source development efforts. We began commercializing the product in early 2018. We have raised about $4m of seed funding, much of which came from Invenshure, and we are currently closing out what we consider our series A now ($5m) – which is still open.

Why are you bullish on Flywheel?

Jim: We have found our place in the market and know we are solving real problems. So the value-proposition is working, the product is very functional, and our pipeline is huge…it’s now about scaling.  Overall, it’s a great mission and an honor to be a part of this company considering the impact our software has on the state of science and healthcare – Alzheimer’s, Epilepsy, Parkinson’s – the list goes on.

Travis: This is a fundamental operations problem within the research community to get their data out and into a secure collaboration environment. So the market drivers are seeking a solution just like Flywheel…we’re not even fully installed with one of our clients and they have already introduced us to another department and prospective client. The opportunity is very present and very large.

What is the greatest challenge or risk right now?

Travis: We have to be able to navigate in a highly regulated environment with understandable privacy concerns. For researchers to themselves be ready, organized and capable of using Flywheel.

Jim: The major trends of machine learning and artificial intelligence are not going away. The amount of data produced in these environments is only growing. Our ability to swiftly execute is, as always, the inherent risk and reward at stake.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Travis: We have a strategic joint-development relationship with Google and are working with them on a daily basis.