Boole start-up of the week: LetsGetChecked

23 Nov 2015

Peter Foley, founder, LetsGetChecked

Our tech start-up of the week is LetsGetChecked, a diagnostics platform connecting customers and laboratories for self-testing.

“It’s about connectivity between consumers and laboratories,” explained Peter Foley, CEO of LetsGetChecked.

“The purpose of the platform is to facilitate early diagnoses for better clinical outcomes.”

LetsGetChecked has launched a dedicated online platform that links customers and laboratories for home STI screening.

Customers order tests online via and test themselves from the privacy of their home or attend participating pharmacies to get checked within a dedicated consultation suite – which pharmacies are required to have by law but which remain largely redundant.

‘Access to testing and early diagnosis leads to better clinical outcomes. For cancer screening it can be the difference between a stage 1 and stage 4 diagnosis. For sexual health screening it can mean avoiding long-term consequences such as infertility’

The service, which delivers the results back to the customer within two days through a secure web portal, provides an alternative solution for those who prefer the convenience and confidentiality of performing a test at home, rather than visiting a sexual health clinic. For those who receive a positive test result, LetsGetChecked’s nursing support team provides same-day consultation within a private clinic and confidential advice on the recommended course of treatment.

The LetsGetChecked business model provides laboratories with a B2C channel by handling the direct consumer selling process and provides consumers direct access to laboratory services without the need to take time off work or visit a doctor.

The market

According to Foley, the global diagnostics market is valued at approximately $50bn.

“The rate of infectious diseases, cancers and other illnesses such as diabetes are on the rise, yet so is the global population,” Foley explained.

“The opportunity is about making testing more accessible and removing the burden from existing healthcare systems.

“By allowing customers and laboratories to communicate directly, customers can receive earlier diagnosis and, in turn, benefit from better clinical outcomes.”

The founder

Foley completed a law degree (LLB) and then obtained a master’s degree in business management from Smurfit Business School, University College Dublin.

“My thesis covered Diagnostic Related Groups (DRGs): financial reimbursement within the US and European healthcare systems.

“I completed a graduate program in corporate and commercial banking  with KBC Bank and I then entered the private healthcare market and worked for a UK hospital operator – Aspen Healthcare.

“I then returned to Ireland and worked for the Health Partnership, a healthcare management consultancy firm, before embarking on the project that is LetsGetChecked.”

The technology

Using LetsGetChecked, customers can provide a finger prick test (blood) or a urine sample to diagnose a range of ailments without the need to visit a clinic.

There are two strands to LetsGetChecked:

Online: A customer can order online, receive a home test kit, self-collect a sample and return the sample to our laboratory by pre-paid envelope and access their results online.

Pharmacy: LetsGetChecked operates in more than 100 pharmacies throughout Ireland and the UK. Customers get tested in the consultation suite of a trusted pharmacy and get results, three days later, securely online.

“Should a customer test positive, our nursing support team will make contact by phone and provide a same-day consultation in a private clinic.

“The scope of our testing options will expand in due course to cover sexual health, cancer screening, lifestyle, fertility and genetic testing,” Foley said.

He added that the ultimate goal is getting more people tested on an international scale.

“Access to testing and early diagnosis leads to better clinical outcomes.

“For cancer screening it can be the difference between a stage 1 and stage 4 diagnosis.

“For sexual health screening it can mean avoiding long-term consequences such as infertility.

“We view this opportunity as a global play and have already secured major international contracts to facilitate expansion. Wherever there are laboratories, there is a need for testing and we can offer direct access irrespective of location.”

European expansion

The company was set up 12 months ago but only really launched in the last six months following a seed round of €350,000.

“Since that time our online offering has expanded into mainland Europe and our pharmacy model is growing rapidly.

“Ronan Ryan (COO) and I are seeking a Series A round for the purpose of financing international expansion and growth,” Foley added.

The Irish start-up scene is a great ecosystem

Reflecting on the start-up journey so far, Foley said the biggest challenges are money and resources.

“It can be difficult to stay motivated in the absence of income and when you run out of money to build your next development feature. While it’s a challenge, it’s also the best part. You never know where things will go and if it was easy everyone would do it.”

All in all, he believes the Irish start-up scene is a great ecosystem. “LetGetChecked originally started within Health Founders, an incubation centre established by Johnny Walker which operated from the Trinity Design Tower in Dublin. This provided the perfect platform to get set up and allowed us to start tapping into the right resources with relative ease.

“There are other resources, however, and LetsGetChecked was selected for a European Council initiative to Silicon Valley some months ago. We had the opportunity to pitch in Palo Alto and have obtained a number of strategic partners within the US as a result. The experience of that trip, in particular, has been extremely useful as we begin our Series A round.”

His watchword for other founders is “persistence”.

“If your concept can deliver a positive impact and you believe in it, just keep going.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years