'Structure, beauty and clarity': With seed financing, Kaleidoscope aims to synchronize R&D teams
High school friends Bogdan Knezevic and Ahmed Elnaiem kept in touch in the years following graduation, and about a decade later found themselves hopping on calls every week to “catch up and riff on things.”
Knezevic, after working on a clinical medicine PhD at Oxford and taking a summer stint at Frequency Therapeutics, became annoyed by the siloed nature of drug R&D.
“The crux of my frustration was the amount of time I was wasting and spending not doing science,” Knezevic told Endpoints News, speaking of his venting-and-catching-up calls with Elnaiem, who’d been working his way through multiple product engineering roles at a series of startups and Google.
So the two quit their jobs and came together with their friend David Yen to form an upstart that would aim to tackle the communication gaps between research teams, starting with the world of biotech and eventually moving into other R&D-intense industries, like food manufacturing, battery and other fields. They named the venture Kaleidoscope and today are emerging with $6 million in seed financing.
“By the time November  came around, we had had many hundreds of conversations ranging from 1-2 people biotechs through to the like Roches of the world and were consistently hearing the same thing,” recalls Knezevic, “which is ‘R&D is a mess. I often don’t know what experiments our company is doing, how they relate to one another, where data is sitting.’”
The goal is to create an operating system that helps R&D teams synchronize, understand what data they have generated, coordinate on projects and be more generally aware of what’s going on within their company’s wet and computational labs, Knezevic explained. Ultimately, they want scientists to focus on the science.
Investor Pablo Lubroth from Hummingbird Ventures told Endpoints the pre-seed and seed venture firm has become intrigued by a new type of biotech founder that they’ve come across in recent years.
“People that have a huge sense of urgency, don’t ascribe to the same timelines and really want to push the scale of biology forward,” Lubroth said, noting the London firm has beefed up its presence in biotech investing in the past three years, bankrolling early rounds at the likes of Enveda Biosciences, Ladder Therapeutics and Basecamp Research.
Hummingbird co-led the round with Dimension. Other backers include Caffeinated Capital, SV Angel, Hawktail Management and individuals.
Knezevic wants to reinvigorate the childhood memories of playing with kaleidoscopes to “celebrate that nerdiness and obsession with science.”
“Kaleidoscope itself is a tool through which you get structure and beauty and clarity, but inside is just like a jumble of pieces and shapes and a mess otherwise,” the co-founder said of the name choice. “We saw that as a good parallel to what we think is the world of R&D.”