Where Are They Now? Entrepreneurs Continue to Scale After Rev1 Customer Validation Bootcamp

In entrepreneurship, there are “milestones,” and then there are “MILESTONES.” Rev1 Ventures just celebrated a milestone of the “ALL CAPS” variety as our 1,000th entrepreneur completed our Customer Learning Lab (CLL) bootcamp.

“Our CLL rigorous bootcamp is based on our conviction that data-driven market validation is at the core of every successful new business,” said Rev1 President and CEO Tom Walker. “After serving over 1,000 entrepreneurs, our model has proven that technology companies with product-market fit gain investors’ attention and customers’ validation.”

Where Are They Now? Matching Milestones to Capital

Invirsa, a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company, is developing new treatment for pinkeye and other ocular conditions associated with DNA damage. Co-founded by Robert Shalwitz, M.D. and Isaiah Shalwitz, MA, a father and son team with more than 30 years’ experience in drug development between them, share a remarkable track record as drug developers and entrepreneurs.

The Shalwitzs Dr. Bob Shalwitz previously co-founded two therapeutics companies, raising more than $200 million, including a successful public offering. VP Isaiah Shalwitz is a biostatistician and pharmaceutical development veteran.

Invirsa’s progress to scale reads like a combination instruction manual and a wish-list for life sciences entrepreneurs. From pre-clinical investigation to FDA Phase 3 trials, from pre-send funding to $7.7 million Series B, and from self-funding to $30+ in federal grants and non-dilutive capital, Invirsa is making giant strides toward validating therapies for viral conjunctivitis (pink eye), which has no approved medical treatment.

“The attitude that only certain places can create entrepreneurial opportunity in life sciences is backward thinking, and we are proving it wrong.” Invirsa

Invirsa started in 2014 and has been headquartered at Rev1 Labs since. In 2015, Invirsa attended one of Rev1’s first Customer Learning Lab cohorts. company became a client of Rev1 and has since leveraged every part of our startup studio: advisory, connections to customers, talent, capital and space at our innovation center. From there, both Invirsa and our Backyard relationship grew stronger year by year.

From pre-seed investment to develop first efficacy data, Invirsa has received multiple investments from Rev1, CincyTech, and others including, most recently, a $7.7 million Series B that will support FDA Phase 2 studies and preparation for FDA Phase 3 clinical trials in pink eye, dry eye disease, and Fuchs corneal dystrophy. Additionally, Invirsa announced a five-year, $29.6 million partnership with BARDA, part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to develop a treatment for ocular conditions associated with DNA damage, including sulfur mustard gas injury.

The investor core of our region isn’t biotech,” CEO Shalwitz said, “but Rev1 is helping to identify additional investors and utilize local connections. In addition, the contacts and friendships from my years in research have been invaluable during this process.”

Where Are They Now? Gaining Customers and Providing Product/Market Fit

Healthy Roster is an electronic medical records (EMR) software platform for athletic trainers in sports medicine and occupational health. Healthy Roster enables subscribers to easily log, track, and communicate about injuries to both athletes and employees in schools, leagues, and workplaces.

Healthy Roster attended a customer learning lab in 2015, near the company’s founding date. From the first discussion Rev1 had with Healthy Roster founders, it was evident that product/market fit was top of mind. They were intent on understanding the needs of potential customers—specifically athletic trainers and student athletes. The Healthy Roster founding team talked to customers then, which continues to this day. Customer feedback informs their every decision.

“We started with an idea that we might track just concussions, then we realized that while that was very important, there wasn’t a business model supporting it,” Co-founder Nathan Heerdt told us back then. “Just because you have a great idea doesn’t mean it’s a viable business.

Athletic trainers told Healthy Roster that they needed an easy, portable way to document injuries at the moment. They needed a more accessible, more immediate, and more efficient way than personal phone numbers and emails to communicate. Finally, they wanted to drive emotional engagement and participation from athletes and their families.

Today, Healthy Roster is engaged with more than 1,000 hospitals, healthcare groups, and colleges, as well as amateur and professional sports leagues. That’s a population of more than 1.5 million athletes, employees, and patients and 5,000 athletic trainers, with more than 3 million treatments.

Nothing is a stronger indicator of Healthy Roster’s product/market fit than these compelling customer testimonials.

  • “So user-friendly, fast, and simple to document injuries.”
  • “Healthy Roster provides a platform that helps us improve communication between the athlete, parents, athletic trainer, and school staff.”
  • “Documentation makes your job as an athletic trainer easier. You can keep everyone up to speed and in the loop.”
  • “It makes the process of evaluating that discussion easier, and more people are on the same page while it’s going on. Everyone is on the same page. Physicians like it because it gives real-time data.

Whether an entrepreneur moves forward with the business idea they bring to Customer Learning Lab or whether they pivot to find a business plan with a better product/market fit, hundreds of Ohio’s startups, spinouts, and entrepreneurs have benefited from the rigors of CLL.