(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a series of articles profiling the teams participating in the Lamp Post Group’s inaugural Dynamo logistics accelerator. We asked each team to respond to a series of questions. The 10 teams will pitch their ideas at 10 a.m. October 4 during a “Demo Day” set for the Tivoli Theater, 709 Broad Street, Chattanooga. For more details, click here.)
Today’s profile is about Slope.io, a start-up focused on helping clinical research organizations accelerate enrollment through precision logistics.
Tell us about your team . . . names(s), background(s), experience, etc. Slope.io was co-founded by Rust and Michael Felix, two brothers who have been working together in a professional capacity for the last five years. Rust is the Chief Executive Officer, a detail-obsessed data junkie with a passion for process optimization and a background in technical sales. Michael is the Chief Technology Officer, an experienced designer, developer, toolmaker, and problem solver. He was formerly a Professor of Interaction and Service Design at SCAD.
Describe the focus of your start-up and the logistics problem you are trying to address. We provide consumable medical supply logistics services for companies engaged in clinical research trials. We help researchers by ensuring their network of clinical trial patients get the exact medical supply kits their care requires on time, on schedule, and on budget. One of the biggest challenges every clinical trial faces is patient enrollment and retention. Our supply kits arrive just in time before the patient visit and come with everything the clinical research nurse needs for a patient visit. This helps the patient visits run smoothly, avoiding deviations from the trial protocol. Effortless patient improves patient recruitment and retention.
How did the idea to start the company originate? What was the catalyst? We got our start as third-party sellers on Amazon.com. We developed a suite of software tools to identify the top-performing products across the marketplace, taking inspiration from the analysis techniques used in foreign currency and stock exchanges. Doing so required choreographing a sophisticated supply chain made up of hundreds of vendor relationships. Our automation and data-centric approach caught the attention of Amazon, and we had the opportunity to consult with them on their Selling Coach suggestions product. We were approached at the end of 2015 by a contract research organization that was running into all sorts of fulfillment problems for its clinical trials. We started what we thought would be a one-off client project, applying our eCommerce tooling to the clinical supply problem space. It didn’t take long to see how huge of an opportunity we had stumbled upon.
What was the impetus for applying to participate in Dynamo? Being outsiders to the healthcare logistics space, we needed help with introductions and connections to key players in clinical research across the Southeast, not to mention the mentorship and guidance through the process of raising capital. We could have done this ourselves, but it would have taken much longer and been much greater of a challenge. We see an opportunity with a timeline, and we needed acceleration to get there before someone else does.
What has been the greatest value the program has provided thus far? Mentorship and guidance around raising seed capital has been a godsend, as every business we’ve built-up to now has been bootstrapped. Dynamo has helped us acknowledge our weaknesses, focus on our strengths, and hone our messaging. Their network has introduced us to a host of healthcare expertise from pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers, doctors and patients of clinical trials.
What do you expect to accomplish by Demo Day and what happens after October 4? To date, we’ve already delivered 1,415 supply kits to over 90 clinical research sites across the country and are supporting 265 patients. By the time Demo Day rolls around, we expect to onboard at least one more Phase I/II clinical trial, ship 200 more kits, and breach 300 active enrolled patients.