If you are unfortunate enough to contract pneumonia, the first thing you’ll get is a heavy dose of broad spectrum antibiotics for the first few days. Although there are more than 100 strains of infectious pneumonia agents identified, only a few are responsible for the majority of the cases of pneumonia. Which one do you have? During those first few days after diagnosis, what’s going on is a culture test to determine which strain of pneumonia you may have. The problem is that the culture test takes 3 days, during which time you are getting all the wonderful potential side effects of broad spectrum antibiotics. Is this a problem worth solving?

Problem: Pneumonia

The CDC estimates that about 900,000 Americans get pneumococcal pneumonia each year and about 5-7% die from it. Worldwide, about 450 million cases of pneumonia are diagnosed each year. In order to properly treat pneumonia, the exact strain of the illness must be determined first. During the 3 days of waiting for the results of the sputum culture test, broad spectrum antibiotics are used to treat the patient.

Broad spectrum is the shotgun approach. Until the exact strain is known, the specific antibiotic that is required cannot be administered.


Maria from QuorumX Diagnostics thinks this is a problem worth solving. QuorumX has created a point of care diagnostic test for pneumonia. It currently takes 3 days to determine which bacteria is causing the pneumonia infection. QuorumX Diagnostics’ solution can make that determination in approximately 5 minutes.

If you know the bug, you know the drug.” Once the strain is known, it can be directly and accurately treated. This solution means much faster care and prevention of the development of “super bugs”, which are resistant to many antibiotics.

The Pitch

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Maria visited Pitch Practice for the first time earlier this month to practice her pitch. She did very well explaining the problem and the solution. However, everyone in the room was left asking, “OK, so who are you to solve this problem?”

Maria had left out a major factor in the credibility of her pitch. She has a PhD in Microbiology and her team is a team of physicians and epidemiologists. Well, ok then! Since Maria is raising money, and investors bet on the jockey, not the horse, she and her team are incredibly important, especially in this type of startup.

Maria said she is raising a $100k seed round. After a lot of discussion about her pitch, we came back around to her team. If I were to ask for $100k to help stop pneumonia, nobody would listen, and rightfully so. But her team is eminently qualified to tackle this problem. Without that $100k, they’ll never get started getting FDA approval to develop their test. And without knowing about her team, no investor would ever write that check.

That’s Why

And that’s why we do Pitch Practice. Maria is very qualified to solve this problem, but she had never said these words out loud in front of strangers before, much less investors. It is our goal to give new entrepreneurs a better chance at success.

Now that Maria knows what the key points to her pitch are (size of the problem, her team, and the potential impact of their solution), she can more confidently practice and speak to potential investors.

What do you think about that?

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