A startup just down the road from Microsoft’s global headquarters in Redmond, Wash. has landed a $5 million funding round to build products designed to prevent strokes and deal with heart problems.
VerAvanti was founded in 2013 by Gerald McMorrow and Russell Garrison, who sold their previous company Verathon in 2009 and ran it for another three years. Up until this round, McMorrow was funding the company himself, but he wouldn’t say how much he put in.
This new funding round comes from family and friends rather than venture capital. McMorrow told GeekWire that the structure of the company, as a deliberate, long-term producer of medical products, doesn’t fit well with the VC funding model.
“We want to create a really solid company, build lifetime careers for our people, build really good products for our customers that help them provide better healthcare to their patients,” McMorrow said. “We are not in here just to get something and flip it.”
VerAvanti’s first product is called called a Scanning Fiber Endoscope, and it consists of an imaging station and a tiny catheter that is designed to take HD quality images. McMorrow said the company still has a ways to go before it can put a product on the market, including getting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He identified a potential release date toward the end of next year, but that timeline is far from certain.
The idea for the scope originally came from the University of Washington. McMorrow and Garrison licensed patents from UW and set off trying to find a use. They learned that there are few ways to identify risks for strokes and heart attacks. The scope is designed to give doctors and surgeons a peek into the hidden intra-vascular anatomy, so they can better identify the causes of strokes and cardiac events.
The 18-person company is growing, McMorrow said, and is looking specifically for engineers.
Like VerAvanti, McMorrow and Garrison’s last company Verathon focused on scopes that would help medical professionals detect and better treat various ailments. McMorrow told GeekWire that developing these tools, with a goal of making care easier for medical personnel, is the best way he can think of to contribute to the industry.
“That’s why we started (the company), to try and make medicine better for patients,” McMorrow said. “And we think we can bring some better care in the U.S. without some new bureaucracy or a bill from Congress. I think we can do it through better technology for our hard-working physicians and nurses.