The initial resistance Group K Diagnostics felt among investors seems to be dissipating.
Though at first the Theranos scandal haunted founder Brianna Wronko in the pitch room — one investor even likening her to Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes — the founder and CEO says promising results in clinical trials have turned investors onto backing her startup.
On Monday, the company announced it had secured a $2 million Series A aimed at scaling up production, commercialization and regulatory processes for its technology. The funding was led by “a private holding company that asked not to be named,” Wronko said, but like most investors in the round, the firm had previously backed its seed round.
“This was a huge show of support,” said Wronko, who expects the company to be in a new lab space near Jefferson’s campus on 1015 Chestnut St. by January 1. “This is growing us from a small startup to a decent-sized company.”
Group K manufactures a point-of-care testing device for the healthcare space. With a test strip that uses microfluidics technology, a few drops from patient’s blood can be analyzed by a mobile app and yield faster results than traditional analysis. The device and technology, Wronko said, are expected to receive clearance from the Food and Drug Administration by June of next year.
Currently a team of 14 split between Philly and India, the company expects to be at 26 by March next year.
Wronko said it’s the results of the trial, and their transparency toward investors, which have dissipated early skepticism around the company’s technology.
“These are investors who have seen our tech,” the founder and University of Pennsylvania grad said. “We’ve shown them our entire process and we’ve continually given the message that we’re based on science. That’s what’s made a difference. People aren’t comparing us anymore because there wasn’t any technology behind them.”
The Holmes references, she said, have also stopped.
“That’s gone,” Wronko said. “I even have a black T-shirt on today.”-30-