Exclusive: Eureka seeds $7M for "Yelp for treatments" of chronic illness
With no community to support his mother after she was diagnosed with a rare condition that shares symptoms with Parkinson's called MSA, tech executive Zain Memon decided to create one.
Why it matters: Memon's startup, Eureka Health, raised $7 million in seed funding to help chronically ill patients connect with peers and share treatment experiences, he tells Axios exclusively.
Deal details: Khosla Ventures led the round.
- South Park Commons, Bling Capital, SciFi VC, Able Partners and Bow Capital participated, along with 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki, former YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and Cancer Commons chair Marty Tenenbaum.
- The capital will be funneled into growing San Francisco-based Eureka's network and expanding its treatment database.
- Memon decline to say when he expects the company to raise again.
How it works: The startup offers users a searchable treatment experience dashboard that can be sorted by "similarity scores," measuring how similar two users are based on demographics and common conditions and symptoms.
- The database uses large language models (LLMs) that parse out and aggregate structured data, from comments posted to existing social networks including Reddit and Facebook Groups.
- "We think of it as a kind of Yelp for treatments," says Memon, who previously worked as an exec at real estate startups Opendoor and Trulia.
- Specifically, its LLMs are trained on data including which treatments users mention, dosing, perceived benefits and side-effects.
Yes, but: The models don't filter out or down-rank posts with erroneous information.
- Memon notes that because its database is trained on more data than a network like Facebook Groups, misinformed posts haven't gained as much attention.
- "Obviously, we don't want to elevate those sorts of stories," says Memon, "but I think the the wisdom of the crowd is the wisdom of the crowd, and the crowd is really good at filtering out that sort of stuff."
What's happening: Today the company has communities for Long COVID (where it has thousands of users, per Memon), metabolic disease, autoimmune disorders and ME/CFS.
What's next: Memon and Khosla Ventures partner Adina Tecklu see future business potential in allowing pharmaceutical companies to use anonymized Eureka data (authorized for use with patient consent) to inform drug studies.
- "This is a treasure trove of data that today is getting lost," Tecklu says. "We think it would be really valuable to pharma."
State of play: Other disease-focused social networks that have gained recent interest within the health tech sector include:
- Jasper Health, a social network for people with cancer, last February raised $25 million in Series A funding.
- UnitedHealth Group in 2019 bought chronic disease patient community portal PatientsLikeMe after company was forced to divest its Chinese investment.
The bottom line: Memon remembers feeling isolated when it seemed his mother's medical team gave up after her diagnosis, and he hopes Eureka can prevent others with chronic illnesses from experiencing that.
- "That moment when you find something that might help you, especially if you find it yourself, it's eureka," he says.