ACTO raises $11.5 million to bolster life sciences sales with AI

ACTO, a startup using AI-powered mobile experiences to educate stakeholders in life sciences, today closed an $11.5 million funding round. The round dovetails with the launch of the company’s capabilities for supporting doctors, nurses, and other health providers with conversational AI that surfaces information about drugs and medical devices.

“Pharma and medtech companies are answering the call of duty during the pandemic,” CEO Parth Khanna told VentureBeat via email. “Now more than ever, we need to bring medical innovations to market quickly and efficiently. With the new funding, ACTO is well-positioned to help life sciences pioneers thrive in the ‘new normal’ and accelerate digital transformation to virtually engage all key stakeholders, from reps to providers to patients.”

The current barriers to selling medical equipment are significant. Buyers might be experts in their fields but unfamiliar with a new technology, like an instrument that performs the same function using a different technique. Beyond ever-changing compliance regulations, the pandemic has exacerbated sales challenges. What previously could have been explained in person now must be described remotely, usually over video.

ACTO’s platform ramps up hires by allowing managers to train sales teams from any device. Managers can quiz those hires on functional knowledge (e.g., clinical evidence stories, including methodologies, results, mechanisms of action, and unanswered questions) and collect digital signatures, issuing PDF certificates to demonstrate mastery. They can also opt to have reps receive support — with messages and AI-personalized notifications — and give them access to a reference guide with lessons, resources, and an engagement tool they can use to send updates or participate in coaching.

Sales, marketing, and compliance teams can create and approve self-paced modules — called ActionPacks — through the ACTO platform. ActionPacks contain multimedia tools, like videos with subject-matter experts, checklists, image guides, marketing collaterals, feedback questions, live polls, 3D content, and interactive files that can be tailored and deployed to groups and specific user hierarchies. Complimentary event engagement tools allow managers to orchestrate workshops with live polls and surveys and for assessments and certifications.

Salespeople can pull up and present approved content from a database and use authoring tools to control that content with edits. A deep search capability automatically tags and contextualizes search queries, and the platform’s multi-channel integrations and permissioning system lets authorized reps mail or text material to customers using tracked links.

On the performance management side, ACTO integrates with customer relationship management systems and can generate individual, team, organization, and customer reports that spotlight behavioral trends. It can also track customer engagement down to the region and territory to inform decisions about whether to accelerate or pivot strategies, leveraging AI that helps determine successful sales behaviors.

Toronto-based ACTO says tens of thousands of reps rely on it across 50 life sciences companies, including AstraZeneca, Teleflex, and Philips Respironics. Resolve Growth Partners led the series A, with participation from new backer Salesforce Ventures and a follow-on investment from Panache Ventures.

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