Navid Alipour is a lawyer with an MBA who is a now a venture capitalist. Among his accomplishments he co-founded a company called CureMatch which matches cancer patients with the right combination of drugs. Alipour’s friend and business partner Blaise Barrelet has a form of leukemia so when the opportunity to create a company that can actually make a difference in a cancer patient’s life, the duo jumped on it.
Alipour lives in Coronado with his wife and children. He met his future wife Rita, who grew up in Coronado, while they were both in law school at the University of San Diego. Alipour is originally from Newport Beach and has lived in San Diego for 21 years and the last six in Coronado.
Five years ago Alipour met Barrelet, a Frenchman whose company had sold for $1.2 billion. The two formed Analytics Ventures with another partner Andreas Roell from Germany. Unlike other venture capitalists companies, Analytics Ventures not only invests in, but co-owns the companies it creates.
“We were approached by scientists who had an idea and the expertise, but were not entrepreneurs. We were approached with fantastic technology. Why not make a company?” Alipour explained about CureMatch.
Razelle Kurzrock and Igor Tsigelny are the scientists that brought the idea to Alipour and his partners.
He explained the partners of Analytics Ventures are company builders. “We fit missing pieces of the puzzle. We build a team of advisors…everything we can to do to bring [companies] through the valley of death; most companies fail in the valley of death,” said Alipour. “We are seed stage investors from inception to Series A or acquisition.”
“Razelle and Igor developed algorithms for an ideal combination to match drugs to each patient. It’s a decision support tool for oncologists,” he explained. CureMatch is the only company that offers this type of reports to oncologists. According to the CureMatch website, there are millions of possible drug combinations for a cancer patient. CureMatch sends a sample of the tumor to be sequenced by a third party. Next CureMatch uses its software to analyze and “compare the results with a database of information from medical experts, other patients, clinical trials and published data” to find the right combination of drugs for a patient.
Alipour spoke of a woman who was given three weeks to live and thanks to CureMatch is still alive. “This should be available to everyone,” he said.
Alipour explained how Analytics Ventures licensed the company, named it, put money in, got investors and got a team together. We are not [just] investing, we are creating jobs. Twenty months ago the company did not exist…A hedge fund from New York is one of our investors,” he said.
Currently CureMatch charges patients $1,000, but the company offers its service for free to people under 18 years old. “In five years time it will be malpractice not to use CureMatch - it can save tons of billions of dollars,” he predicted.
So far Analytics Ventures has founded six companies. Another of the companies created three years ago is CureMetrix, a technology that helps detect breast cancer. This new technology will go through FDA approval and is already being used in Mexico.
“Catching breast cancer early saves lives and saves money for the health care system,” explained Alipour. “Modern medicine will advance in the next 10 years more than in the last 100 years.”
Alipour is a big believer of artificial intelligence and Analytics Venture has also created AV Lab Information Technology and Services. “We have our own artificial intelligence lab of data scientists that help all of our portfolio companies. We attract the brightest and the best,” he explained.
Alipour was a portfolio manager before embarking in Analytics Ventures. “I wanted to be my own boss and create something. We created something that did not exist. It’s all about the team and the right partners. [Roell] brings the German operation efficiency. The three of us complement each other well. We bring different things to the table. We are not just partners, we are good friends. We have a personal bond and work well together,” he said.