PearX S21 alum Valar Labs raises $22M to continue building AI that helps oncologists make better decisions

June 4, 2024

Founder Stories , Announcement


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Last week, PearX S21 alum, Valar Labs, announced its $22 million Series A round co-led by DCVC and a16z with participation from Pear. We’re incredibly excited for this milestone for Valar Labs and wanted to take this opportunity to look back on our history working with their team.

We met the Valar Labs co-founders at a free boba event we hosted on Stanford’s campus in 2020. After that first meeting and introduction, the Valar Labs team applied to Pear Competition. And from there, they joined our PearX S21 cohort. 

PearX S21 cohort, which included companies including: Valar Labs, Kale, and Aklivity

When we met the team, we were incredibly excited to back them for a few big reasons:

  • This is a massive and unsolved market opportunity. Valar is using AI to help oncologists choose the correct treatment for their patients. Unfortunately, for thousands of cancer patients each year, there is a high degree of uncertainty around which treatment option works best for them. This uncertainty leads to billions of dollars of potentially unnecessary drug costs, and even more importantly, wastes precious time for thousands of patients battling cancer. The sad reality is that most cancer patients end up on a treatment sequence that fails them, and Valar Labs is on a mission to change that.
  • The team had a clear vision for the type of product that could best meet this unmet need. Valar is truly a software company that enables capabilities that legacy diagnostic companies do not have. Unlike many diagnostics companies for which the core technology revolves around a novel laboratory assay, Valar uses AI to analyze images of a patient’s tumor and to predict the likelihood of response to different standard-of-care treatments. This information helps oncologists determine the best treatment pathway for a patient.
  • The team was well suited to tackle this problem: Valar’s co-founders, Anirudh JoshiViswesh Krishna, and Damir Vrabac, met at Stanford in 2020 when they were all part of Dr. Andrew Ng’s machine learning group. While at Stanford, they had the opportunity to spend time at the intersection of AI and medicine, speak to hundreds of oncologists, and find the key areas of high medical unmet need. Not only were they had were innately curious and incredibly quick learners, they also gathered the most esteemed KOLs in the space including Professor Eric Collison from UCSF and Professor Pranav Rajpurkar from Harvard/Stanford  to solve this problem. 

The team hit the ground running during PearX, and the Pear team was there to assist them in hiring their first employee, introduce them to strategic advisors on both go-to-market and the clinical side, and get their story in shape for fundraising. While whiteboarding with the team, it was clear that to be successful, they needed data access and partnerships with cancer centers. 

Valar’s Demo Day pitch in October 2021

Upon completing PearX, Valar hit a number of milestones in their company growth. After Demo Day, Valar Labs closed their seed round of $4.15M led by the a16z Bio + Health fund. They’ve leveraged their seed funding to reach clinical validation and form partnerships with top academic and medical institutions, and they’ve unveiled Vesta, the first-ever, AI-based oncology test for bladder cancer.  

Anirudh and the Pear team

When we first met Valar Labs, they were 3 founders operating out of a dorm room. Now they are more than 14 employees with $26M raised. Their growth path has been incredible to date and we know the best is yet to come for this team.