A pair of former Flipkart and Salesforce executives have announced $20 million in funding for their startup, an AI-enabled voice assistant for doctors called Suki. The financing is made up of a $5 million seed round and a $15 million Series A, both led by Venrock. First Round Capital, Social Capital, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and other investors also participated in the funding rounds.
Founded last year by Punit Soni, who was previously the chief product officer of Indian ecommerce company Flipkart, and former Salesforce VP Karthik Rajan, the startup was initially known as Learning Motors, then Robin AI. Now, with the fresh funds, the company has landed on Suki.
Soni worked on mobile applications and voice integration for Google before he landed at Flipkart. When he left Flipkart in 2016, he set his sights on an entirely new sector.
"I wanted to do something where I could go home every day and feel like I was adding value to society," Soni told PitchBook. "I thought, a person from a consumer background with a relatively naive take on healthcare initially might have a fresh take on it, and then I realized how much money was being wasted on transcription services and other ways of automating data entry."
The company's goal is to reduce the number of hours doctors spend on medical notes, enabling them to spend more time with patients. According to the American College of Physicians, doctors spend twice as much time taking notes and doing desk work as they do face-to-face with patients.
Suki's medical assistant, which is currently in its pilot phase, gets to know each doctor it works with and becomes more intelligent in the process. It can search and retrieve patient data, distill a conversation between a patient and doctor into an actionable plan, order prescriptions and more. The company is essentially automating the role of a medical scribe, though not intentionally.
"We aren't here to build a medical transcription company, but in a world where my car can drive me home on autopilot, is it really going to be the case that five to six years from now doctors are jotting things down in front of patients?" Soni said. "No, they are going to be using something that is invisible and assistive."
Here's more on venture capital in the healthcare industry.