May 01, 2018
Pablo Graiver, Antidote
CEO of Antidote
Graiver traveled a different path to health tech distinction than many of his Transformer peers. He entered university with the expectation of becoming a doctor, then quickly shifted his emphasis to genetic engineering. This, in turn, fell by the wayside when Graiver realized he “wasn't all that crazy about being in labs all day.” He secured a business degree and went into commodity training, then turned his attention to e-commerce. “At some point in the mid-90s, I got really excited about everything happening with the internet,” he recalls with a laugh. “Being able to send and receive email – that used to be the greatest thing. I remember browsing part of the catalog for the Louvre and thinking, ‘This is the future.'”
Graiver's first pure internet play was an early variation on what would today be categorized as password-manager software. A handful of strategy and development gigs followed, until he landed at Kayak.com – then a 25-person upstart – as its European VP of business development. The experience proved enlightening, as much for what Graiver learned about customers as for what he learned from Kayak cofounder and CTO Paul English. “He knew where things were going before everyone else did. He used data to make decisions, but he never forgot about the importance of human interaction,” Graiver says.
That philosophy informed Graiver's decision to found Antidote in late 2008. Upon reaching a point where he feared becoming “just a stupid internet person,” Graiver sat down with Dr. Jessica Mann, a family friend from his homeland of Argentina who happened to be an elite cardiovascular surgeon, pharma investor, and wonk. During a lunch in Graiver's London garden, Mann told him about the ongoing struggle to enroll individuals in clinical trials. Graiver immediately saw commercial potential in the idea, but more crucially realized that “this would be a nice problem to solve.”
Antidote, initially known as TrialReach, was born shortly thereafter. The goal was to do for clinical trial enrollment what Kayak did for travel, but the company didn't truly break through until 2015. That's when Eli Lilly, Novartis, and Pfizer, which had been working together to make their clinical trial data machine-readable, chose Antidote to organize and annotate their mass of information.
“Not coming from the healthcare industry myself was both the biggest blessing and the biggest curse,” Graiver explains. “I probably wouldn't have been able to come up with the ‘right' approach if I had been in the industry, but I also wouldn't have made mistakes that other people didn't because they knew the business.”