Written by Shantanu Mittal
Market Networks have been studied and defined in great detail, most notably by James Currier of NFX Guild. (pro-tip: If you don’t know what a market network is, read James’ post before continuing on.)
Here at Bee Partners, we have been at the forefront of investing in market networks through early investments in companies like Tradesy, Building Connected, and Vacatia, and have even seen other marketplaces in our portfolio transition towards a more market-network like approach.
I was introduced to this concept when I first joined Bee and am fascinated by its power to help startups achieve scale so quickly.
But how do market networks get started in the first place? What changes can trigger the creation of a market network? The answer, in my opinion, is a change in the power dynamic between the buyer and seller creates the perfect ground for a market network.
This is an insight that became clearer when I applied the market network concept to the healthcare industry. The healthcare ecosystem is a complex network with payers, providers, patients and pharma companies. A lot of health IT investment has gone into improving the ease and efficiency of each of the individual stacks in the ecosystem. But a huge opportunity exists in new market networks that connect these stacks. Traditionally in the healthcare industry, power has been concentrated in the hands of providers and payers. However, with millennials focus on disease prevention and transparency of health plans, we are seeing a dramatic shift in the power dynamic towards a patient centric model.
Figure 1: Number of Registered Studies Over Time
Startups have already started to take advantage of this shift in power dynamic through new market network concepts that focus on the consumer. We are seeing new market networks to help patients find the right doctors and health plans. The focus is on consumer convenience and transparency. Market networks have created tremendous value and this shift to a consumer driven healthcare model has only just begun. With new trends like Telehealth and democratization of genomic data, we can expect to see a continued evolution of market networks in healthcare.
Another major area of healthcare that is frequently overlooked in the health IT ecosystem is the drug development network. Here too we see a potential for market networks between pharma companies that develop new drugs and hospital sites that have the ability to conduct clinical trials. And recently, we are starting to see a change in the power dynamic in this network. The number of trials being conducted has gone up exponentially in the last 10 years (see Figure 1), but the number of trial sites has not increased to such a degree. This change in supply and demand has led to clinical trial sites now gaining more power; Florence Healthcare is in the process of capitalizing on this emerging opportunity. Florence started off as a workflow software tool for the clinical sites, but saw this change in power dynamic happening and soon evolved into a market network connecting clinical trial sites with pharma companies willing to sponsor trials. Florence solves the biggest problems at the clinical edge of the network, and by freeing those bottlenecks, helps the sponsor side too.
Fence Healthcare recently announced a $1.7M raise from leading investors including Bee Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, Dartmouth Angel Fund and FitBit VP Will Crawford. Since launching in January, usage of Florence’s SaaS tool has grown over 150% month over month. Ahead of the funding, Florence secured agreements with some of the biggest institutions in drug and device development: UCSF, Mt. Sinai, and Sloan Kettering’s PCCTC Cancer Research Center.
We are excited about increasing our exposure to the healthcare industry through a market network, and are thrilled to be supporting Andres Garcia, Ryan Jones, and Michael Kassin, MD, and their team at Florence. For more details on Florence’s recent success, click here, and if you’d like to connect with the Founders, please let us know!