ExplORer Surgical raises $3M to make surgery safer

by Andreas Rekdal
August 29, 2017

For most of us, workplace miscommunication is an irritation at worst. But in operating rooms, ensuring that everyone is on the same page can be a matter of life and death.

ExplORer Surgical, a graduate from the University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge, announced on Tuesday that it has raised a $3 million Series A for its interactive operating room software.

Aphelion Capital led the round, which was first reported by the Chicago Tribune, with participation from the UChicago Startup Investment Program.

ExplORer helps surgical teams address an important safety concern: operation rooms can be far less organized than most people realize.

“I think there’s a common misperception by folks who don’t spend their days in the [operating room] where they imagine it as this perfectly run environment, this well-oiled machine,” co-founder and CEO Jennifer Fried told the Tribune. “The truth is there’s a lot of complexity that happens, and two surgeons doing the same procedure in rooms right next to each other could look totally different.”

ExplORer’s software can be customized to fit each surgeon’s workflow, and provides team members with role-specific information for each step throughout the procedure. It also provides a broader overview that helps the team track overall progress.

The platform also has built-in tools that help teams avoid delays and disruptions, which increase risk, and an analytics suite that provides insight into team productivity and unnecessarily wasted disposable supplies.

Founded by Fried and Dr. Marko Rojnica, both graduates from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, as well as Dr. Alexander Langerman, ExplORer Surgical came in second place in the school’s 2015 New Venture Challenge. At the time, the startup was also admitted into the Pritzker Group Venture Fellows accelerator program.

Tuesday’s $3 million round brings ExplORer’s total funding to more than $4.5 million. The company’s last round came in the form of a $1 million seed round raised around this time last year.

ExplORer, which has 13 employees to date, plans to use the funding to make additional hires.

"Our big focus right now is growing our sales and business development team," said Fried. "Right now, our team is stretched really thin trying to manage our accounts and expand into new ones."

Fried said one of those new hires will likely be at the director level. On the tech side, ExplORer is looking into ways to expand its platform's analytics capabilities.

The UChicago Startup Investment Program, announced in December 2016, is an initiative to invest $25 million of the university's endowment in early-stage startups. Its $500,000 check for ExplORer is the program's first venture investment.

“ExplORer Surgical has a record of success, both from their time at the university and in recent years, and we are pleased that they will be receiving the first investment from this program,” said University of Chicago VP and chief investment officer Mark Schmid.

Fried attributes much of her startup's success to the university's support.

“ExplORer Surgical would not be where we are without the support of the University of Chicago and the Polsky Center,” she said in a statement. “From early team formation, to the training and investments received through the Innovation Fund and New Venture Challenge, and to the support I’ve received since graduating from Chicago Booth, the Polsky Center has been with us on every step of our entrepreneurial journey.”


Image via Instagram.

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