Startups

Clinical study matchmaking startup emerges from Shark Tank with a deal from Mark Cuban

Oh to be a healthcare startup with billionaire investors fighting for a piece of your business. That’s the situation in which DNAsimple CEO and founder Olivier Noel found himself when Mark Cuban and Richard Branson made competing offers to the entrepreneur on Shark Tank.

Olivier Noel, DNAsimple CEO and founder, pitches to the investors on ABC’s Shark Tank.

 

A healthcare entrepreneur with a business that seeks to make clinical recruitment easier by matching up DNA donors with medical study researchers in exchange for $50 per study for participants pitched to the investors on ABC’s Shark Tank TV program. He and walked away with a $200,000 investment from Mark Cuban.

In exchange, Cuban snagged a 15 percent equity stake in the business. Would-be participants offer some personal medical information and contact details on the company’s website. Researchers who think that person may be a good candidate for their research study request a saliva swab in return for $50.

DNAsimple cofounder and CEO Olivier Noel, who is currently studying for a combined MD and PhD at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, developed the idea for the business since he began pursuing his degree at the medical school. He became aware of how long the clinical trial recruitment process can take, particularly when it comes to recruiting minorities. Noel, who lived in Haiti before moving to New York, said that the company’s approach is intended in part to improve diversity in clinical trials.

Noel was originally looking to sell a 12.5 percent equity stake in the company for $100,000. His pitch for the company attracted the interest of two investors on Shark Tank: Cuban and fellow billionaire investor Richard Branson. CNBC highlighted the exchange:

Richard Branson offered $100,000 for 25 percent, but Cuban upped the pressure, offering $200,000 for 20 percent. And, Cuban had another condition: “I’ll make you an offer, but I want you to say yes or no right now.”

Noel quickly made Cuban a counter offer, asking for the $200,000 for 15 percent.

Cuban’s answer? “Sure. Done.”

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Noel has previously taken part in the Dreamit Ventures startup program in 2016.

Having two high-profile billionaires competing with each other to invest in a healthcare startup may very well be the zenith for a healthcare entrepreneur on Shark Tank, where startups in this sector have typically received a mixed reception. The direct-to-consumer model has always been a tough sell, especially for investors familiar with the healthcare sector.

Sometimes they have won over the sharks with practical solutions, such as a clean-up tool for bacteria-riddled smartphones.  Even when sharks made offers, sometimes healthcare entrepreneurs didn’t like them.