KeyOps, a platform that connects sales and marketing teams to physicians, has raised $4 million CAD. The seed round will enable the startup to expand into the United States while it enlarges its physician network across North America.

KeyOps’ platform enables pharmaceutical sales and marketing teams to match and deploy short, digital surveys, asynchronous advisory board meetings, and to test marketing content with a network of expert physicians.

Doctors Sam Elfassy and Saeed Darvish-Kazem, who co-founded KeyOps with COO Darren Anderson, recognized that pharmaceutical companies spent billions of dollars annually trying to connect with doctors over products or services, like patient support programs.

However, Elfassy and Darvish-Kazem saw that the companies were out of touch with the needs of key opinion leaders, such as doctors and administrators, leading to pharmaceutical representatives often demanding hour-long meetings, unnecessary dinners, or showing up at doctors’ offices.

“Busy physicians had to find one to three hours, and schedule a meeting with sales representatives or listen to a PowerPoint presentation that may be irrelevant to their patients’ needs,” said Darvish. “Between treating patients, teaching students, and administrative office work, you may have as little as 15 minutes in a given day to share top-of-mind insights.”

As doctors themselves – Elfassy is a gastroenterologist and Darvish-Kazem a cardiologist – they know first-hand what they are talking about. Both said the typical number of life science engagements left them exhausted. The doctors recall lunches and evenings overtaken by long meetings and a struggle to create more of a work-life balance. That became even worse during the pandemic with “Zoom fatigue.”

Since rolling out its platform in 2021, KeyOps now claims a list of customers that include some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical and medical device companies, including Amgen, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Canada, Becton, as well as Dickinson and Company. KeyOps also has some 1,200 physicians in its network.

KeyOps offers a two-sided platform for two user groups. On the one side are the physicians who bring insights to the pharmaceutical industry and on the other are device manufacturers, both of which are the target customers of the software. KeyOps claims its platform analyzes data from physicians and summarizes insights and recommendations for the pharmaceutical industry and device manufacturers.

On the other hand, it’s essential for KeyOps to add to its physician network, as thee more geographies and specialties on the platform, the more interest it garners from target customers. “Our physician network and their insights on improving healthcare are the most critical assets in our company,” a KeyOps spokesperson told BetaKit.

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Graphite Ventures led the $4 million CAD seed round, with participation from MaRS IAF; StarForge, an Archangel Network fund; and the Velocity Fund. A group of experienced SaaS experts and CEOs also participated in the round, including Carol Leaman (CEO of Axonify), James Novak (ex-CEO of Fiix Software), Danny Ardellini (CEO of Environmental 360 Solutions), and a network of physicians from HaloHealth. The round closed on December 6.

“There are a number of small players who are attempting to enable commercial insights for life science sales and marketing teams,” said Graphite Venture partner and new KeyOps board director, Kevin Madill. “KeyOps is the first to take an innovative physician-centric approach, and we were impressed with their vision for building a collaborative and modern approach to physician-pharma engagement.”

As well as enlarging its physician network, KeyOps hopes to increase its staffing with the new funds. The startup currently has six employees. It will expand to nine in early January and then plans to hire another 11 positions in the new year.

Launched in 2020, KeyOps raised a pre-seed round of $650,000 to get the business off the ground in January 2021. Pre-seed investors included the founding team and friends, as well as angel investors from HaloHealth.

KeyOps joined the Growth Services Portfolio at the Innovation Hub MaRS Discovery District in 2022, giving the startup access to the accelerator’s experts in various fields including digital health, market intelligence, venture capital and talent recruitment for high potential companies.

KeyOps operates out of MaRS’s Waterfront Innovation Centre in Toronto.

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