If someone had told me in early 2020 that the following year I would be standing on the NASDAQ floor, in an IPO of a company I had never met in person, but led their last private investment round, I would not have believed it. Yet that is precisely what happened late this past summer, when I went to New York for the IPO of one of our most exciting portfolio companies, Sophia Genetics (NASDAQ: SOPH).
Ranked as one of the 50 smartest companies by MIT Technology Review, Sophia Genetics provides multi-omics (genomic, proteomics and radiomics analyses) for hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. In July Sophia went public with a valuation of over $1.1B, ten months after our initial investment in the Swiss company.
Watching Dr. Jurgi Camblong, Founder & CEO of Sophia, ringing the NASDAQ bell was an exhilarating moment and a testament to the strength of his vision and the remarkable company that we believe that he’s built. I’d like to offer a peek inside the exciting (virtual) ride that culminated in our first ever face-to-face meeting on the NASDAQ floor.
I virtually met Jurgi for the first time in May 2020. From our first conversation, my colleagues Dr. Reut Shema, Tamir Maxiner and I believed that Jurgi was a visionary the likes of which we at aMoon search every corner of the world to find. As a molecular biologist and pioneer of the personalized data-driven medicine movement, Jurgi has won accolades, including EY’s Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. We were equally impressed by Sophia Genetics, the business he co-founded in 2011 and has since turned into a high growth multinational company with massive global potential.
Sophia Genetics provides a data-driven, cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for the healthcare industry. Its platform analyzes data and generates insights from complex multimodal data sets and different diagnostic modalities. In 2014, Sophia launched the first application of its platform to analyze NGS (next-generation sequencing) data for cancer diagnoses. Sophia has hundreds of applications used by healthcare providers, clinical and life sciences research labs and biopharmaceutical companies, for precision medicine across oncology, rare diseases, infectious diseases, cardiology, neurology, metabolism and other disease areas.
The story of Sophia Genetics goes to the heart of what personalized medicine is today and what personalized medicine can be in the future.
To understand why we believe that Sophia’s operation is so significant, consider the early days of the personal computer. First, someone needed to create the hardware to have that computational power (think of the role of IBM in the 70s and 80s). The next evolution was in what you could now do with that computational power. This is when the value shifted from hardware companies to software companies – companies that could harness, integrate, and synthesize this new technology.
Now think about personalized medicine through this lens.
Personalized medicine was initially triggered by genomics. Building the instruments that allow us to sequence the genome (turning companies like Illumina and BGI into major players in the industry) was the first major breakthrough in this field. Now that we have those instruments — the hardware — and cost of sequencing is sharply declining while speed and accuracy are constantly improving, we are moving to the software. From the “what” to the “so what.”
Now that you can sequence the genome and have the raw data, what can you learn from this? How do you identify genetic mutation? What is the clinical interpretation of the data? The value in personalized medicine lies in the shift from hardware to software, and Sophia has the potential to dominate the software side, bringing scientific insights to the clinical setting and bridging the gap between scientific discoveries, hospitals and patients.
To be sure, there are other companies focused on interpreting these data. But we find that Sophia does it differently, by empowering the genomic labs and democratizing genomic analysis.
Some of the other companies we’ve reviewed build centralized labs that take data samples from hospitals, sequence and analyze them, and then send a report back to the hospital. Sophia has democratized this process, that is perceived by some as cumbersome and expensive, by creating a de-centralized system with software that empowers in-house genomic labs at hospitals. Instead of sending a sample to a lab, losing precious time, economics and expertise, Sophia’s platform enables hospitals to keep their expertise in-house, cut turnaround time significantly, retain the economics of their work, and most importantly, provide more wholistic patient care.
Just scraping the surface
When aMoon initially invested in Sophia, the company already had significant revenue and hundreds of clients and hospitals across Europe. Sophia had established itself as the leader in the decentralized model outside of the U.S. At the same time, we feel Jurgi had a very clear vision of where the company should go from there – penetrating the U.S. market, expanding its offering to pharmaceutical companies, and going beyond genomics to multi-omics, including proteomics and radiomics.
Sophia Genetics is already a public company led by what we believe is an incredible team and strong leadership, and yet there is significant room for future growth. They are just scraping the surface of their potential.
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