The blood-analysis startup is aiming to increase sales by 450 percent during the year.
Werlabs specializes in analyzing your blood and compiles all the metrics and data in a digital journal. You get the answers back with comments from your doctor, who will call you if you have any serious health issues.
Last year the company had sales of $700,000 (5.5 million SEK), and expects to increase sales by around 450 percent, to around $3 million. in 2016.
According to the company’s CEO and co-founder, Will Stoddart, the large growth potential is mainly due to Werlabs market being “large and untapped.”
“People care about their health. They want information about it, and are willing to pay for it.”
“For the first time, people have the opportunity to find out more about their health. Access to such information nascent, but we notice that people want to know. That is how I got into this area myself. I wanted for more information about my own blood”, he says.
Breakit meets Willstodart and his co-founder, and general practitioner, Rickard Lagerqvist at Hälsingegatan in central Stockholm. They share an office there with some other e-health companies. Simon Reinius and Fly Thomas are also a part of Werlabs’ founding team.
Breakit has previously reported that the company raised $500,000 (4 million SEK) from angel investor Oscar Hall and the venture capital company 3TInvest.
The medtech startup has now claimed that it is growing by 18 percent every month. To increase the growth even further, the company looking to raise an additional $3.7 million (30 million SEK), and has already booked meetings with several major Swedish VC-firms.
Efforts to raise capital is managed by Moha Bensofia, whom they recruited from Fishbrain, where he was head of growth.
Losses in 2015 amounted to $300,000. According to Will Stoddart, the red figures are a result of, among other things, the development of a new journal system and and the company’s web shop.
He also says that the company is not focused on being profitable yet, but on “growth and building a revolutionary product”. Werlabs is therefore looking to add four new members to its team of eight developers.
Richard Lagerkvist, who still practices medicine a few days a week, got the idea for Werlabs when he noticed that patients were often very well informed and interested in the blood samples.
“The problem is that the county council is working with sick people, there are not so many resources to work proactively,” he says.
Richard Lagerkvist says that navigating through the Swedish health care system has been a struggle for the company. Werlabs, and similar services like Blodkollen, have among other things been accused of looking for anomalies in healthy people and putting an extra burden on hospitals and medical centers.
However, attitudes have shifted and some have become more progressive recently, according to Rickard Lagerqvist.
“One of the big challenges for us was to change behavior. I often say that we have moved just one centimeter on a one-meter ruler “, he says.
“But I think that this is just the beginning of this industry. E-health could very well be the next big export success,” he says.
In the US discussions have been raging as the unicorn startup Theranos has been accused of manipulating research results. Theranos claims its technology can detect anything from high cholesterol levels to cancer with just a few drops of blood. Recently, the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also proposed to ban Theranos’ founder Elizabeth Holmes from the blood-testing business for at least two years.
This has of course been discussed at Werlabs – who thinks that Theranos method of pricking a finger is unnecessary and imperfect.
“You can discuss the their testing method and the like. We are doing something completely different than what they do. We do not reinvent the wheel, but use existing infrastructure in healthcare. One must be able to rely on the tests, and one of our strengths is that there are already clinics that make these samples”, Rickard Lagerqvist says.
The person who orders an analysis from Werlabs start by going to a clinic and taking a blood test, which is then sent to one of the lab Werlabs cooperates with, among others Karolinska university labs and Unilabs. Prices vary from a few bucks up to several hundred dollars, depending on what is being tested.
Why should I pay for your service instead of going directly to a health center?
“It is one of the most common questions we receive. The public health care system only covers blood tests if there is any suspicion of disease. However, if you just feel anxious about something, a test is not included in the primary health care, there are not enough resources for that.”
“25 percent of our users have some form of chronic disease, and use our service in addition to the ‘traditional’ health care system”, Rickard Lagerqvist says.