Right as 2017 was biting the dust, GraphWear Technologies sent out an email with an air of mystery to it.
The newsletter spoke of hustle and of navigating the high tides. It recounted “challenges” and how the company had “weathered through good and bad.”
Beyond the mystery veil, the email to stakeholders also had some news: GraphWear’s move to San Francisco, first thought of as a temporary stint for an accelerator program, had become a permanent one.
Per cofounder Rajatesh Gudibande, the move quickly became key to a second bit of news from the company: GraphWear raised a $4.2 million Series A round led by West Coast VCs Bio Innovation Capital and Mission Bay Capital.
(The SEC documents haven’t been filed yet, but Doug Crawford, a partner at Mission Bay Capital, confirmed the raise to Technical.ly.)
Wish you and your loved ones a Happy 2018! Looking back, the past year has been a critical and exciting year for GraphWear. Thank you for being a part of ‘WE’. Let’s welcome 2018 and take the next stride towards replacing blood tests #SweatIsTheNewBlood
The startup, which was part of the 2015 Dreamit Health cohort and the University City Science Center’s Digital Health Accelerator (DHA), makes a graphene-based sensor technology that can provide biological information from sweat. Initially ideated to provide performance athletes with advanced information, the latest use case in the works for GraphWear is aimed at a needle-free glucose test, expected to hit the market three to four years down the line after the necessary Food and Drug Administration clearances.
Cofounder Saurabh Radhakrishnan, 26, said that while the Philly ecosystem was key to the startups nascent stage, it was in West Coast which yielded the support needed for the long game.
“We needed to stabilize in an area that fostered a long-winded vision,” said Radhakrishnan, who holds a master’s degree from Penn in nanotechnology. “We couldn’t find that on the East Coast.”
The company’s founding duo also shared some of what that “hustle” and “challenges” looked like.
“We lived in a hacker house and worked odd hours out of lab space a former Penn professor let us use,” said Gudibande, 27. “We had to work on this like crazy, in the lab from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. because that’s the time we had, and then the business side of things started at 9 a.m.”
But, seemingly, the Philly–SF gambit delivered on both counts for the startup: While the West Coast supplied the capital, access to the Philly ecosystem was key to laying down the foundation.
“Looking back on it, I would start the process again in Philly,” said Gudibande. “There you have rationality and concreteness of plans. Plus, the largest community of doctors is there to ask the right questions. We would love to be associated with Philly.”