A Q&A with myTomorrows co-founder and CFO Erdem Yavuz. The Amsterdam-based startup, which has developed a way for patients with serious illness access to medicines they may benefit from but that are still in development, announced in late February the closing of a $2.2 million new funding round from unnamed investors. The company was founded in 2012 by Ronald Brus, Sjaak Vink, Jan de Witt, Govert Schouten and Yavuz. The founders previously provided Seed funding totaling $3.8 million back in 2012.
SUB: Please describe myTomorrows and your primary innovation.
Yavuz: myTomorrows.com is the world’s first patient-centric platform providing access to development-stage treatments. We democratize access to innovative therapies by leveraging the power of the Internet for drug developers, doctors and their patients globally. Patients and their doctors often can’t wait for lengthy approval periods when drugs have already passed mid-stage clinical trials for safety and efficacy.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Yavuz: Patients with unmet medical needs, their loved ones and their doctors.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates myTomorrows from the competition?
Yavuz: There are some B2B-type CROs, but our risk-sharing model allows for the biotech innovators to help patients, whilst also generating valuable data and revenues. There are no patient-centric ‘competitors’ that actually offer access like myTomorrows does.
SUB: You just announced that you’ve raised $2.2 million in new funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise more funding?
Yavuz: Our investors see the potential to build a company that will help many stakeholders, varying from the patients [and] their doctors, biotech innovators, and the healthcare system. The healthcare system will benefit greatly from earlier access, as it will be clearer which drugs are helping ‘real-life patients’ sooner. By rewarding the innovator sooner and more fairly, there will be more innovation and hence better treatments for more indications at lower prices; also for diseases where the patient numbers are smaller. myTomorrows.com supports patients, doctors, and biotech companies, whilst creating value in a unique space for our investors.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds?
Yavuz: To advance our global rollout and enter new disease areas such as MS, ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The current offering is mainly oncology and major depression. Our business development pipeline is very healthy.
Yavuz: MyTomorrows was founded in 2012 by Ronald Brus, the former CEO of Crucell—sold to J&J in 2011. Brus was inspired to start the company because of his experience with his father who suffered from lung cancer, and wanted to make it easier for others to obtain promising development-stage treatments.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Yavuz: The core co-founder team was formed January, 2012; we all resigned from our jobs that June. Now there are more than 30 of us in five countries and on three continents.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Yavuz: Talking to patients, we realized in their minds it all boiled down to how many tomorrows they had left.
SUB: Do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
Yavuz: We are a growth company.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Yavuz: Finding great people remains a challenge and one we embrace wholeheartedly.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Yavuz: We have a ‘hybrid revenue’ model. MyTomorrows charges a small fee to cover the costs incurred during the complicated process of bringing a development-stage treatment from the originator in country ‘A’ to a doctor or patient in country ‘B.’ This turnkey solution includes everything from logistics and import permits to regulatory and legal pathways. myTomorrows has mid-single-digit percent royalty agreements in place with the biotech innovators using the platform to help patients and their doctors sooner. When those drugs achieve marketing authorization, then myTomorrows will benefit too. This is our risk-sharing model, and allows the biotech innovator to help patients and doctors whilst tapping a source of revenue plus data, hence unlocking the value in their pipeline.
SUB: What are your goals for myTomorrows over the next year or so?
Yavuz: To help more patients in more countries in more disease areas.