Odaia secures $17.5 million CAD to help pharma firms focus their sales and marketing with AI

Odaia aims to be a “one-stop shop” for pharma data analysis.

Odaia aims to solve “a really key problem in a very big industry” — how to derive actionable, real-time commercial insights from pharmaceutical sector data.

To tackle this problem, the Toronto-based software startup has secured approximately $17.5 million CAD ($13.8 million USD) in Series A funding.

The company’s all-equity round was led by Boston-based Flint Capital, with participation from Boston’s Innospark Ventures, New Hampshire-based Alumni Ventures, and Graphite Ventures, which was recently launched by MaRS IAF. The January round also saw support from existing Canadian investors BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Fund, MaRS IAF, StandUp Ventures, Panache Ventures, and more.

“The use case within pharma for our application is extremely large.”
-Philip Poulidis, Odaia

Odaia wants to become a “one-stop shop for multivariate data analysis and predictive insights for the pharma industry.” The company’s Maptual customer data platform uses machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to drive “more informed and impactful” sales prospecting and customer engagement.

Since rolling out its platform in mid-2021, the startup’s customer pipeline has grown quickly — Odaia has amassed a customer list that includes some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, including Janssen, Novo Nordisk, and AstraZeneca, which have adopted Odaia as a means of focusing their drug sales and marketing efforts.

Founded in 2018, Odaia was spun out of the University of Toronto by professor Periklis Andritsos, adjunct professor Helen Kontozopoulos, University of Lausanne PhD student Gael Bernard, and CEO Philip Poulidis.

“The life sciences industry, and in particular, the pharmaceutical sector, is extremely data rich, but a lot of players within that space are lacking in actionable predictive analytics, especially when it comes to the commercial side of the business,” Poulidis told BetaKit in an interview.

These data sources range from subscriber transaction data to claims, emergency medical records, population, demographic, economic, and lab data. Analysis on these datasets is typically done by consulting firms and not in real-time.

While this data is anonymized at the patient level, what is not anonymized is the ability to pinpoint which doctor is prescribing certain treatments, said Poulidis.

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This is where Odaia comes in. The startup’s software taps into and analyzes all of these disparate datasets to provide its pharmaceutical company clients with a clearer picture of who and where to target their sales efforts towards, and what their customer journey looks like.

According to Poulidis, Odaia’s key selling point is the real-time insights it provides, which are much faster than the typical consulting project.

“There are a number of large players that are either doing CRM solutions or data analytics solutions for sales and marketing at pharma companies,” Flint Capital Partner Andrew Gershfeld told BetaKit. “What all of them lack is the ability to give an insight or give prioritization of the next step for sales representatives or marketers [on] how to approach a particular market segment.”

Gershfeld, who is joining Odaia’s board as part of the round alongside Innospark Venture Partner Matt Fates, described Odaia as “well positioned” as a connective hub for all of pharma companies’ data sources.

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Odaia currently works with pharma customers across a variety of different disease areas, ranging from specialty therapeutics to rare disease drugs, providing its software via a SaaS-based model per therapeutic area.

“You’ve got thousands upon thousands of physicians that need to be targeted,” said Poulidis. “As a pharmaceutical company, you can throw money at the problem by hiring as many salespeople as you possibly can … But that’s a very inefficient way of getting your therapeutics to the right patients.”

In an industry that typically spends a lot of money on marketing and sales, Poulidis argues that Odaia’s platform gives pharma companies a chance to divert some of this funding back into drug discovery and patient care.

Poulidis said the company’s pipeline has grown “very quickly” during the pandemic as pharma companies have been forced to change the way they do business, as the traditional face-to-face interactions have become less feasible due to COVID-19 and pharmaceutical sales efforts have become more multi-channel.

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Poulidis said the round was oversubscribed, as Odaia initially sought to raise “close to” $10 million USD. “Solving a really key problem in a very big industry I think is what got investors interested in us,” said the CEO.

Odaia’s Series A financing also included a “small” amount of secondary. Poulidis declined to disclose the exact breakdown, but noted that BDC Capital’s COVID-19 co-investment fund — which invested in Odaia as part of one of their seed rounds — sold its shares as part of the round. The fresh capital brings Odaia’s total funding to about $23.2 million CAD.

Odaia currently has 35 employees, and plans to use its fresh funding to add 15 to 20 more within the next year. Poulidis said the remote-first startup intends to focus its hiring efforts on its commercial team in the United States, where it has recently opened a new office in Boston — where Flint Capital and Innospark Ventures are based — and across product development roles.

“You can throw money at the problem by hiring as many salespeople as you possibly can … But that’s a very inefficient way of getting your therapeutics to the right patients.”
-Philip Poulidis, Odaia

For now, Odaia remains focused “primarily” on Canada and the United States (US), but the startup is in active discussions with new and existing customers about potentially rolling out its offering in Europe.

Speaking with BetaKit in 2020, Poulidis said he saw potential applications for Odaia’s platform in other industries. “We built our platform from the beginning to be extremely scalable and generic, to be able to work across different industries, different industry segments, and different industries datasets,” said Poulidis.

However, over the past year, the CEO said Odaia has “doubled down” on pharma, improving and focusing its algorithms to work well with pharmaceutical data.

“The use case within pharma for our application is extremely large,” said Poulidis. “The opportunity is huge, and there’s a lot of other adjacent areas that we can grow into, within pharma, in terms of our analytics capabilities.”

The CEO said Odaia is starting out on the commercial side of pharma, but plans to venture into the medical and clinical spheres in the future as well.

Feature image courtesy Odaia.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache. He was also the winner of SABEW Canada’s 2023 Jeff Sanford Best Young Journalist award.

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