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Toronto’s “Instagram for doctors” raises $4 million

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Earlier this week it was announced that Fred Wilson and his firm Union Square Ventures have just led a $4M Series A round of venture funding in the Toronto-based startup Figure1. Figure1 is essentially “Instagram for doctors.” Here’s how it works (via WSJ):

Today, more than 125,000 health-care professionals use Figure 1 to view or share free medical imagery, including photos of patients with personally identifiable details blurred out or excluded; x-rays; charts; and still images taken from MRI or CAT scans, for example.

The app’s users include board-certified doctors, registered nurses, medical and nursing students, physicians’ assistants, and others who use the app and share images for teaching and studying purposes, or even to request community feedback about a possible diagnosis.

With this round, USV is now up to 3 investments in the Toronto/Waterloo region (I think of us as one center). The other 2 are Kik (out of Waterloo) and Wattpad, which is actually headquartered here in the St. Lawrence Market.

What’s exciting to me about all of this is that it’s further evidence of a growing and thriving Toronto/Waterloo startup ecosystem. And while to some it may not seem like a big deal for yet another mobile app to receive funding, it’s actually great news.

Because as these companies grow and become successful, they’ll not only create new jobs in the region, but also create a tremendous amount of wealth and expertise. And when this wealth and expertise gets reinvested into future startups, you end up with a powerful snowball effect. That’s how startup ecosystems are built.

It’s also great to see companies staying put, because the pull towards more established startup hubs can be significant. When my friend Evgeny raised a Series A round from Andreessen Horowitz last year, he told me that they asked him to move 500px down to California. As is the case with a lot of VCs, they like their portfolio companies to be nearby.

But ultimately 500px decided to stay headquartered here in downtown Toronto. And they did that for a few reasons: There’s lots of great engineering talent here and it usually comes at a discount relative to California (5-15%). He also finds that employees here are more loyal. There’s less turnover. In California, everyone is looking for that next best startup to join. Here 500px gets to be that big fish in a small pond.

Anyways, a big congratulations to the Figure1 team. I hope they continue crushing it and that they stay put in Toronto. If you’re a healthcare professional, you can click here to download the app.

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