Hialeah Health-Tech Firm Attracts Investor Attention
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Working out of a Starbucks in 2012, Obdulio Piloto saw an article about the Peter Thiel Foundation’s Breakout Labs’ funding effort for revolutionary technology projects.
He and Ian Cheong, a friend from his student days at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, thought they had one: a universal platform that would allow diagnosis for multiple diseases easily, cheaply and quickly. Many people in developing countries lack access to life-saving diagnostic tests because of their high cost and the countries’ lack of advanced medical infrastructure.
Piloto sent in that idea for a company called Entopsis.
About a month later, the Peter Thiel Foundation, set up by the founder of PayPal, called with good news: Breakout Labs had chosen Entopsis for a $160,000 grant. The company was one of only 16 startups selected nationwide and the only one in Florida.
“I said, ‘You understand I work [out of] Starbucks. I don’t have a lab or a team,’ ” Piloto, who had moved back to South Florida and was researching his ideas, recalled telling Breakout Labs. “But they understood the science, the implications and where this could go. They said this is a grant to test out your crazy idea.”
Today, Entopsis has a core team of four Ph.D.-level scientists, plus consultants, working in a lab at the Hialeah Technology Center. Co-founder Cheong, who is based in Singapore, remains as an advisor. The company has created prototypes and has begun testing its platform with partners in the areas of cancer and infectious diseases, said Piloto, Entopsis’s CEO. His educational background — a bachelor’s in microbiology from Cornell University, a doctorate in cellular and molecular medicine from Johns Hopkins, and post-graduate work in therapeutics using small molecules and peptides at Stanford — has proven critical.