A Q&A with Ybrain co-founder and COO Seungyeon Kim. The Seoul, Korea-based healthtech startup announced in late summer the closing of a $4.2 million Series A funding round from Stonebridge Capital. It was founded in 2013 and previously raised $700,000 in Seed funding from undisclosed investors.
SUB: Please describe Ybrain and your primary innovation.
Kim: Ybrain is a healthtech startup building healthcare wearables for Alzheimer’s disease patients and building a mobile healthcare platform for detailed analytics for disease diagnosis and improvements over time with healthcare wearable usage.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Kim: Korea, North America [and] EU.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Ybrain from the competition?
Kim: Sorterix Medical is one of the leaders in this field, so that can be our competitor if I have to name one. We are able to provide mobile-first wearables with miniaturized tech compared to others who provide it.
SUB: You just announced that you’ve raised $3.5 million in Series A funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise more funding, and how do you plan to use the funds?
Kim: This money will go to executing clinical trials and build devices for patients who are participating in the trials.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Ybrain? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Kim: Dr. Yun’s (co-founder and CEO Kyongsik Yun) research as a Caltech postdoc focused on dopamine neuron network stimulation with transcranial direct current stimulation. We thought that using this tech: 1) made it wearable, and 2) R&D so that it laser focuses on one problem will have really big impact to solve neurological disorders. So, we decided to focus on Alzheimer’s disease because there have been only three oral medications approved globally [over the] last ten years, and it is not likely that there will be anything coming on until 2025 from current clinical trials.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Kim: We decided to go stealth-mode, put our entrepreneur hats on and looked for Angel funding to start the company.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Kim: Ybrain is ‘why brain?’ We want to explain and answer to everyone that [the] brain is important and our work will answer that question.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Kim: One of the significant challenges were convincing the VC and partners. While MDs and industry partners understand well about the tech and the product, we have [a] difficult time convincing business people that this tech works.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Kim: We are currently discussing sales partnership with one of the big global pharmaceutical companies for distribution partnerships.
SUB: What are your goals for Ybrain over the next year or so?
Kim: We plan to launch our business in North America and also launch wearables for detection of Alzheimers.