Apprentice.io Raises $24 Million in Series B for Pharma Production

By Bruce Harpham Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Apprentice, a software startup in the pharmaceuticals market, recently announced $24 million in funding in its Series B round. The New Jersey company is planning to use its new capabilities to support COVID-19 vaccine production.

The vaccine manufacturing challenge is significant. According to the New York Times, "Pfizer and BioNTech expect to manufacture over 1.3 billion doses of their vaccine worldwide by the end of 2021." Also, there is incredible pressure on vaccine makers to produce vaccines at speed. Therefore, Apprentice's ability to help companies speed up their manufacturing processes will become necessary.

Apprentice's Funding and Revenue

In total, Apprentice has raised $42 million from investors. The company raised $8 million in its Series A round in 2018. At that time, Apprentice's investors included The Venture Reality Fund, Silverton Partners, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Hemi Ventures, and the GFR Fund.

The Series B round, announced in late November, includes investments from Insight Partners, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, and Silverton Partners.

The company's investors are experienced in bringing companies to successful exits. Silverton Partners's investments have a strong history of acquisitions, including StackEngine (acquired by Oracle in 2015), Trendkite (acquired by Cision for $225 million in 2019), and Tastebud (acquired by Cerberus Interactive in 2019). Based in New York, Insight Partners has made over four hundred investments, including healthcare companies like HingeHealth, CentralReach, Tytocare, and Within3.

With thirty-three employees, Apprentice is starting to find some success in the market. The company states it has Fortune 100 customers but does not disclose them. Pharma companies in the Fortune 100 include Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Merck & Co.

Apprentice Hires for Sales and Customer Success

The company is currently recruiting for a variety of roles in Jersey City. There are four open sales executive job postings dedicated to different markets: Europe and the US (North East and West Coast). At the same time, the company is also making sure that customers understand how to use its complex product by developing its customer success team. Specifically, the company is hiring for the following customer success roles: Director of Support, Onboarding and Training Manager, and Customer Success Manager.

Maintaining a balance between sales and customer success matters. Some industry surveys cited by Sixteen Ventures recommend spending at least 15% of revenue on customer success. However, the amount companies spend on customer success will depend on several factors, including the product's complexity. Businesses may also emphasize a channel model. In this case, companies may model others like Microsoft, HubSpot, and Salesforce to follow in their footsteps. These technology companies partner with third-party consulting firms that specialize in providing implementation and training services to customers.

How Apprentice Helps Pharma Companies

As a technology company, pharma companies can use Apprentice's platform in a few ways.

With intelligent batch execution, pharma manufacturers can improve the reliability of their finished product. That means less waste and potentially lower prices for life-changing medicines, drugs, and vaccines. Apprentice also includes machine learning capabilities to help companies identify process improvement opportunities.

In pharma manufacturing, high-quality standards are critical. A single mistake during manufacturing could result in a critical treatment failing. Pharma companies have invested significant resources in training, standard operating procedures, and checklists to prevent such errors. As more training documents are created, employees may struggle to stay current. To solve this problem, Apprentice offers an immersing training solution. The solution includes voice-guided training – a critical development since pharma staff may be wearing bulky personal protective equipment (PPE) during the manufacturing process.

Finally, Apprentice also helps pharma companies manage their raw materials more effectively. This capability matters today because many vaccines use the same raw materials, such as formaldehyde or formalin. These chemicals are typically used to kill the virus inside the vaccine. By helping vaccine producers make more efficient use of their raw materials, Apprentice may help speed up the production and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

Responding to COVID-19 With a New Product

In response to the global pandemic, which has infected more than 65 million people, Apprentice has developed a new offering. Apprentice's Tandem Rapid Deployment Kits for COVID-19. Tandem is a hands-free manufacturing and R&D platform. By connecting staff in manufacturing facilities with people working offsite, the kit improves collaboration. As people and facilities push hard to end the pandemic, Apprentice's preventive maintenance capability will also become critical.

About the Author


Headshot for author Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book "Project Managers At Work" shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.

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