Listen Here

| |



Welcome to another episode of Category Visionaries — the show that explores GTM stories from tech’s most innovative B2B founders. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Kourosh Davarpanah, CEO and co-founder of Inato, a global clinical trial platform that has raised over $35 million in funding.

  • Kourosh’s journey from a family of medical professionals to pursuing his passion for engineering and building a mission-driven startup in the healthcare industry.
  • The staggering lack of diversity and access in clinical trials, with less than 5% of patients participating and a mere three African American women out of 8,000 patients in a breast cancer drug trial.
  • Inato’s two-sided marketplace model, connecting hospitals and pharma companies to help match the right trials to the right patients, inspired by the success of Airbnb.
  • The root cause of the access problem: 5% of top hospitals running 70%+ of trials, leaving patients at smaller community hospitals with little opportunity to participate.
  • The impact of COVID-19 in driving pharma companies to seek new ways to reach patients where they are, beyond the traditional site-based model.
  • Inato’s journey from a pharma-focused SaaS to a hard pivot in 2020, rebuilding the platform from scratch as a marketplace and achieving 600% revenue growth in the past year.
  • The importance of finding investors who deeply understand the problem space and can pitch the vision back to the founders, rather than trying to educate them from scratch.


Seek the Root Cause, Not Just the Obvious Problem:

While the lack of diversity and access in clinical trials is widely acknowledged, Kourosh and his team spent four years digging beneath the surface to uncover the root cause: the concentration of trials in a handful of top hospitals. By identifying the underlying structural issue, Inato was able to design a marketplace solution that directly addresses the bottleneck. Founders should push beyond the obvious pain points to find the deeper, more systemic challenges that their product can solve.

Draw Inspiration from Analogous Marketplaces:

Kourosh cites his admiration for Airbnb's ability to unlock massive supply and transform a complex, trust-intensive transaction. By studying the key elements of Airbnb's success, from discovery to user experience, Inato was able to adapt and apply those principles to the clinical trial space. Founders should look for successful marketplace models in adjacent industries that can provide a blueprint for their own business.

Focus on Discovery and Matching Before Expanding Scope:

In the early stages of building the marketplace, Inato deliberately prioritized the discovery and matching components, spending three years perfecting the trust and credibility piece before moving on to administrative functions like pricing and payments. By nailing the core value proposition first, the company was able to gain traction and prove the model before adding complexity. Founders should resist the temptation to build too many features too soon and instead focus on getting the critical pieces right.

Partner with Multiple Customers to Avoid Overfitting:

One of Kourosh's key learnings was the danger of relying too heavily on a single customer in the early days. While partnering closely with one pharma company helped Inato gain initial traction, it also led to an overfit product that required significant backtracking to generalize to the broader market. Founders should strive to validate their solution with multiple customers to ensure they are building for the industry, not just one player.

Educate Investors, But Don't Overextend:

When raising capital, Kourosh found that there was a limit to how much Inato could educate investors about the complexities of the clinical trial space. Rather than trying to convert investors from zero knowledge to deep passion, the company focused on finding partners who had already done their homework and could articulate the vision themselves. Founders should balance the need to inform investors with the recognition that some degree of pre-existing domain expertise is necessary for true alignment.

Recommended Founder

Dipanwita Das

CEO and Co-Founder of Sorcero

Dipanwita Das, CEO and Co-Founder of Sorcero: Over $20 Million Raised to Power Medical Affairs Teams of the Future

Alex Zekoff

CEO and Co-Founder of Thoughtful AI

Alex Zekoff, CEO and Co-Founder of Thoughtful AI: $21 Million Raised to Power the Future of Healthcare Automation

Aasim Saeed

CEO and Founder of Amenities Health

Aasim Saeed, CEO and Founder of Amenities Health: $10 Million Raised to Build the Future of Patient Engagement

Richard Queen

CEO and Co-Founder of DignifiHealth

Richard Queen, CEO and Co-Founder of DignifiHealth: $7 Million Raised to Drive Better Patient Outcomes in Rural Healthcare and Beyond

Hala Borno

Founder and CEO of Trial Library

Hala Borno, Founder and CEO of Trial Library: $5M Raised to Improve Patient Recruitment and Diversity in Oncology Clinical Trials

Kyle Kiser

CEO of Arrive Health

Kyle Kiser, CEO of Arrive Health: Over $40 Million Raised to Improve the Value of Healthcare Through Informed Decision-Making

Samson Magid

Co-Founder and CEO of HealthSnap

Samson Magid, Co-Founder and CEO of HealthSnap: Over $12 Million Raised to Build the Future of Remote Patient Monitoring

Rishi Nayyar

CEO and Co-Founder of PocketHealth

Rishi Nayyar, CEO and Co-Founder of PocketHealth: $22.5 Million Raised to Power the Future of Medical Image Sharing

Joseph Schneier

CEO of Trusty Care

Joseph Schneier, CEO of Trusty Care: $13+ Million Raised to Shape the Future of Medicare

Michael Gorton

Founder of Teladoc

Teladoc Founder Michael Gorton on the Early Days of Pioneering the Telemedicine Category (And What’s He’s Up to Next)

James Bates

CEO and Founder of AdviNOW Medical

James Bates, CEO and Founder of AdviNOW Medical: $24 Million Raised to Build the Future of AI-Powered Healthcare

Joshua Miller

CEO and Co-Founder of Gradient Health

Joshua Miller, CEO & Co-Founder of Gradient Health: $5.7 Million Raised to Build the Future of Medical Imaging

Alfred Griffin

CEO and Co-Founder of CEO and Co-Founder

Alfred Griffin, CEO and Co-Founder of LightForce: $150 Million Raised to Power the Future of Orthodontics

Dr. Nan-Wei Gong

CEO and Founder of FIGUR8

Dr. Nan-Wei Gong, CEO & Founder of FIGUR8: $40 Million Raised to Build the Future of Musculoskeletal Health and Injury Data Solutions

Daniel Lambert

CEO of PathologyWatch

Daniel Lambert, CEO of PathologyWatch: Over $50 Million Raised to Build the Future of Digital Pathology

Matthew Stoudt

CEO and Founder of AppliedVR

Matthew Stoudt, CEO and Founder of AppliedVR: Over $70 Million Raised to Build the Future of Chronic Pain Relief

David King Lassman

Founder of GigXR

David King Lassman, Founder of GigXR: $7 Million Raised to Bring Immersive Learning to Healthcare

Viral Patel

Founder and CEO of Radish Health

Viral Patel, CEO of Radish Health: $5 Million Raised to Connect Employees with a Better Healthcare Experience

Amy Brown

CEO and Founder of Authenticx

Amy Brown, CEO and Founder of Authenticx: $28 Million Raised to Build the Future of Listening AI

Dr Thomas Oakley

CEO of Feedback PLC

Dr Thomas Oakley, CEO of Feedback PLC: £20 Million Raised to Build the Future of Patient Data Sharing

Matt Renfro

Co-Founder & CEO of Lynx

Matt Renfro, CEO of Lynx: $17.5 Million raised to Bring Modern Fintech to Healthcare

Itzik Cohen

Co-Founder and CEO of PayZen

Itzik Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO of PayZen: $240 Million Raised to Build the Future of Affordable Health Care

David Berry

CEO and Founder of Valo

David Berry, CEO and Founder of Valo: Over $500 Million Raised to Build the Future of Drug Discovery

Joe Gagnon

CEO of 1upHealth

Joe Gagnon, CEO at 1upHealth: Over $75 Million Raised to Build the Future of Healthcare Data

Steven Greene

CEO of Nibble Health

Steven Greene, CEO of Nibble Health: $8 Million Raised to Bring the Fintech Revolution to the World Healthcare Payments

Stacy Edgar

CEO and Co-Founder of Venteur

Stacy Edgar, CEO & Co-Founder of Venteur: $7.6 Million Raised to Build the Future of Health Insurance

Kevin Flyangolts

CEO and Founder of Aclid

Kevin Flyangolts, CEO & Founder of Aclid: $4 Million Raised to Build the Future of Biosecurity

Austin McChord

CEO of Casana

Austin McChord, CEO of Casana: Over $46 Million Raised to Create the Future of In-Home Health Monitoring

Derek Streat

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Dexcare

Derek Streat, CEO of Dexcare: $110 Million Raised to Help Health Systems to Find Time for the Best Care

Andreas Cleve

CEO and Co-Founder of Corti

Andreas Cleve, CEO and Co-Founder of Corti: $32 Million Raised to Power the Future of Patient Consultations

Ty Allen

CEO of SocialClimb

Ty Allen, CEO of SocialClimb: $12 Million Raised to Power the Future of Healthcare Marketing

Brett Kleger

CEO of Datacubed Health

Brett Kleger, CEO of Datacubed Health: $43 Million Raised to Revolutionize Clinical Trial Data Collection

Trenor Williams

CEO and Co-Founder of Socially Determined

Trenor Williams, CEO and Co-Founder of Socially Determined: $34 Million Raised to Build the Social Risk Intelligence Category

Cesar Herrera

CEO and Co-Founder of Yuvo Health

Cesar Herrera, CEO and Co-Founder of Yuvo Health: $28 Million Raised to Revolutionize Healthcare Access