AgileBio helps biotech startups be as lean and agile as tech startups. In addition, we provide a revenue model for patient facing health apps and reduce the cost of clinical samples for biotech startups

What it does

AgileBio helps biotech startups to be lean and agile like software startups. There are many different stakeholders in the life cycle of a biotech startup, including the FDA. The biotech business model is similar to healthcare because there are at least seven different stakeholders to consider in evaluating a business model. For this project, AgileBio focuses on B2C startups. Our startup persona is creating a microbiome based diet for people with autoimmune disease.

Agilebio is software that enables biotech founders to survey a stratified population of patients to determine interest in a product, while allowing patients to donate samples to the startup to enable faster and less expensive product development. The population is derived from patient-facing health apps.

The biotech founder can select inputs for stratification. In our current demo, the biotech founder is surveying whether a lupus patients would choose to participate in an intermittent fasting diet or take a pill that replicates fasting. After responding to the survey the patient receives a invitation to share a sample. The survey then returns results to the founder.

Phase 1 Customer Development

In the days before the hackathon, we did early customer development with biotech founders and accelerators to determine if there was interest in the concept. We found that everyone in our sample was interested in biotech companies becoming more lean and agile.

Here are some comments from our early survey:

  • Founder of DIY Biotech organization: “Nice Concept”
  • CSO of Biotech Accelerator: “I would love to see it”
  • Founder: “This would absolutely be of interest to me and my regenerative medicine startup”
  • Founder: “Yes — definitely. I’m an academic working in the industrial biotech/synthetic biology space. Would certainly be interested…”

Phase 2 Customer Development

During the hackathon, we followed up with our original interview subjects and presented them with the product we created for feedback.

  • Founder: "I think this is great! Having a way to engage with stratified patient populations more readily would be incredibly powerful for a diverse array of biotech companies."
  • Founder: "This is a great idea. I’m a big believer in building an organization that can learn as fast as possible. I’ve built experimentation infrastructure more in line with growth marketing tools for my company and while I was at Castlight. I think you should pitch this as that experimentation infrastructure. Early biotech has a lot of hypothesis they need to verify by just talking to a lot of people."

What we learned

Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution to improve the agility of biotech companies, every step towards making biotech startups leaner and more agile is valuable because it ultimately helps patients.


We are inspired by the patients who declare #WeAreNotWaiting and take their health in their hands by creating apps and devices to meet the needs of their families or themselves. Our work to help accelerate new treatments is dedicated to the patients and their families.

Why this idea

Terje and I mentored biotech startups through NSF iCorps at UCSD. We noticed that biotech founders had difficulty identifying and talking to potential customers to understand their needs. Founders were also unsure whether the application of technology was something that the customer ultimately wanted or needed.

Terje and I met Samantha at the YC hackathon. Samantha was the co-founder of a biotech company in the YC W16 batch. As a scientist and founder, she has a unique understanding of the challenges for a biotech startup. Together, we found that we could both reduce costs of clinical samples and de-risk by helping biotech founders understand and solve the problems of the customer.

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