ACTO secures $23.5 million CAD as pandemic tailwinds increase demand for life sciences education

ACTO exec team (from left): Kapil Kalra (CCO),John Schultz (CSO), Alison Muller (CMO), Parth Khanna (CEO), Kumar Erramilli (CTO), Jenny Yeung (CFO). Source ACTO
AstraZeneca is one of ACTO’s biggest customers.

With a focus on training and data tracking for life sciences salespeople, ACTO has secured $23.5 million CAD ($18 million USD) in Series B, equity capital.

The startup claims to have seen accelerated growth since 2020, specifically with large enterprise customers like AstraZeneca, as easily-accessible, remote-based learning options for pharma reps and healthcare providers have become increasingly popular amid the pandemic.

“For frontline learners, it’s snackable, digestible, small bursts of training.”

The Series B capital came from two investors: Questa Capital and Resolve Growth Partners, the latter of which led ACTO’s $15 million CAD Series A round in 2020. Questa is a healthcare-focused venture growth equity firm, based in the United States, that invests in a variety of healthtech, from devices to software.

Operating since 2014, ACTO provides an education platform for pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Those companies, in turn, use the platform to educate their teams, such as pharmaceutical reps, on things like the clinical benefits of new drugs.

“For frontline learners, it’s snackable, digestible, small bursts of training,” said Khanna.

ACTO claims more than 100 customers that operate in just as many countries around the world.

ACTO plays in a market that has been heavily disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports show that healthcare providers have explicitly found that COVID-19 is “driving lasting change” in their relationship with pharmaceutical companies, with pharma showing improvement in both relevance and the support services they provide.

Challenges still remain, though, with healthcare providers calling for pharmaceutical companies to do even more to understand their needs and the needs of patients.

ACTO plays somewhere in the middle of these interactions, providing salespeople with tools to better understand and share information with healthcare providers. And the startup has felt the tailwinds of the pandemic.

AstraZeneca is one example of that growth, with ACTO having first signed with the company around 2018 to 2019. When ACTO launched with AstraZeneca it was used by a small team based in Wilmington, Delaware. Khanna says ACTO is now used by thousands of AstraZeneca employees on a global basis.

With enterprise companies like AstraZeneca, which are over $1 billion in revenue, ACTO has seen a 310 percent increase in revenue since the onset of the pandemic. Even the early days of the pandemic were a boon to ACTO as the startup reported a 500 percent increase in annual recurring revenue from 2018 to 2020.

Team size has also grown by 124 percent since ACTO’s Series A round closed. The company currently sits at around 140 employees, with plans to grow that number to 150 with its recent financing round.

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Part of ACTO’s success during the pandemic can be attributed to it having secured capital at the right time. ACTO’s Series A round closed in April 2020, giving the company the fuel it needed to acquire customers as well as competing companies.

In September 2020, ACTO bought Minneapolis-based Scrimmage, a competitor that had developed a mobile learning platform for both life science and non-life science clients. Shortly after, ACTO acquired CoHealth, a mobile application that provides trusted resources for patients and caregivers.

With its latest financing, ACTO has raised $47.1 million CAD ($36.1 million USD) to date. Its backers include Panache Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, and MaRS IAF, among others.

As market conditions have tightened for raising capital, ACTO finds itself in a beneficial position yet again, having closed its Series B in mid-May.

Khanna claimed that ACTO did not feel the effects of the market when raising, stating that the company was offered more financing than it needed. He argued that the space ACTO plays in insulates it from some of the market conditions.

“For us, the advantage is also [that] we’re servicing an industry that is happy to pay for our solution because it solves a real pain point,” said Khanna. “And, life sciences has attracted more capital and we think through the recession that’s impending it should be, probably, not as scathing in life sciences than in other industries.”

With its Series B financing, ACTO plans to invest in more product innovation. The startup will continue to develop its recently-launched AI-powered conversational assistant, and also sees the opportunity to work with healthcare professionals specifically, in addition to sales teams.

Khanna said more mergers and acquisitions may also be on the horizon for ACTO.

“We’re well on our way as we build out this number one learning platform in life sciences,” the CEO claimed.

Meagan Simpson

Meagan Simpson

Meagan is the Senior Editor for BetaKit. A tech writer that is super proud to showcase the Canadian tech scene. Background in almost every type of journalism from sports to politics. Podcast and Harry Potter nerd, photographer and crazy cat lady.

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