It’s difficult to tell if probiotics and other supplements are working, but Pendulum Therapeutics thinks it’s cracked the code.
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Colleen Cutcliffe, James Bullard and John Eid, all scientists with deep microbiology, biochemistry, computational and clinical expertise, started the San Francisco-based biotechnology company in 2013 to apply evidence-based microbiome science and DNA sequencing to the area of supplements.
Pendulum is now backed by a $54 million Series C round of funding, led by Meritech Capital, with participation from existing investors including Sequoia Capital, True Ventures and Khosla Ventures. This new round of funding nearly doubled the company’s previous venture capital raises, bringing its total to $111 million, according to Cutcliffe.
In 2020, Pendulum went on the market with its flagship product, Pendulum Glucose Control, a medical probiotic. It is clinically shown to lower blood sugar spikes and reduce A1C, even while taking common diabetes medicines. Clinical trial findings were published last year in BMJ Open Diabetes, a prestigious peer-reviewed journal.
“We think we have created an emerging new microbiome science, which has only become a thing over the last decade,” Pendulum co-founder and CEO Cutcliffe told Crunchbase News. “DNA sequencing enabled us to understand the microbiome, take the sequencing and apply it to create metabolic maps and then change the system and how the different functions of the microbiome relate to health.”
This science is especially personal to Cutcliffe, whose daughter started out the first month of her life in neonatal intensive care, receiving antibiotics that altered her microbiome. As her daughter grew, she started having food allergies the rest of the family did not have, which Cutcliffe attributed to those early antibiotic treatments.
“We’ve learned that antibiotics decimate the microbiome, leading you to be more prone to diseases later in life, such as obesity, diabetes, ADHD and celiac disease,” she added. “We knew we could help my daughter and others by creating products with the efficacy of drugs, but without the side effects.”
Consumers can purchase Pendulum Glucose Control from the company’s website for $165 per month, which includes two pills taken daily, as well as free A1C testing at the beginning of the process and three months in to see if it is effective. Users also receive coaching and nutrition consulting.
Following the release of its first product, Pendulum saw a surge in demand at the end of 2020 and into 2021, which included a 74 percent retention rate going into months four and five. In order to grow rapidly, the company decided to raise additional funding, Cutcliffe said.
The Series C funding will go toward manufacturing, marketing, sales and the company’s future product pipeline. Cutcliffe would not go into specifics about revenue growth, but said the product continues to sell out.
“The challenge is getting people to believe it works, but once they do they stick with it,” she said. “There is incredible demand for something with efficacy that is also natural. This is just the first product, and we have more in the pipeline to target other diseases.”
What investors have to say
Sherman told Crunchbase News that Meritech is typically a growth-stage investor, but made an exception to invest in Pendulum. The firm has invested in companies, such as Snowflake, Roblox and 10X Genomics, which have gone public within the past few years, and he believes Pendulum is in the same caliber.
“I would not describe Pendulum as a probiotic company, but as a next-generation pharmaceutical company that is based on next-generation sequencing,” he added. “This is hugely rigorous science done by a world-class team. After being investors in 10X Genomics, we were naturally looking for a revolutionary health care company, and Pendulum was the answer.”
Photo of Pendulum Therapeutics’ co-founder and CEO Colleen Cutcliffe courtesy of the company.
Blogroll illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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