How a delayed cancer diagnosis at 16 motivated the CEO of LetsGetChecked to start his health-testing firm that's raised $42 million
- Peter Foley is the founder and CEO of LetsGetChecked, a personal health-testing and insights firm that enables people to test themselves for ill health from within their homes.
- Foley developed testicular cancer aged 16, a fact that came to light after a rugby accident, but his cancer was not detected for months.
- This motivated Foley to set up LetsGetChecked, which now operates in both Europe and North America and has raised $42 million to date.
- Speaking to Business Insider, Foley explained how his delayed diagnosis motivated him to found LetsGetChecked.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
For Peter Foley, the founder and CEO of LetsGetChecked, everything would have been different had he just been checked sooner.
Founded in 2014, LetsGetChecked is a personal health testing and insights firm that allows consumers direct access to a range of testing options and clinical services from home.
It provides health insights to enable better healthcare decision making, and its testing kits cover sexual health, men's health, women's health, and general health - allowing customers to test all manner of conditions, from cholesterol levels, hormone levels, scanning for the presence of cancers, or something else entirely.
To date, the company says it's raised $42 million in funding. It operates in Europe and North America, with offices in Dublin, New York, and Toronto.
But Foley says he would never have founded the firm had he been properly checked himself.
Foley was developed testicular cancer aged just 16, a fact that came to light after a rugby accident. But he wasn't diagnosed for months, since doctors didn't perform a basic check for it, leading to months of back-and-forth hospital trips.
The episode shaped the rest of his life.
'It should have been a pretty quick process, but instead, it was months'
"When I went to college I studied law as my undergraduate degree and a master's degree in business studies," Foley told Business Insider. "I was playing a lot of rugby and just got a kick. I ended up in the emergency room, and it was just something I thought was nothing. But they sent me home, and then I went back a couple of weeks later as the pain was persisting, Then they sent me home again.
"I think I spent a couple of months just with that same issue, and then went back again. They should have just done a scan on me at the time, and they just never bothered. It kind of went from there, but it was just a long, drawn-out process and it should have been a quick one.
"Especially at that age, running in and out of hospitals isn't something a youngster should be doing. It should have been a pretty quick process, but instead, it was months."
Market research firm Fior Markets predicts that the global home diagnostics industry is set to boom in the next half-decade. It estimates the industry will be worth $6.53 billion by 2025, up from $4.78 billion in 2017.
LetsGetChecked follows a similar procedure to other at-home health testing kits. Users visit the site and choose a test. They range from hormonal checks and vitamin level checks to STD testing.
Users can then order the relevant testing kit - which arrives directly at your house in discreet packaging - and follow the instructions.
LetsGetChecked then anonymously analyzes the sample, before a nurse gives the user a call to discuss results.
The results can also be viewed online.
The rise of startups such as LetsGetChecked coincides with the concept of the "quantified self", where users get unprecedented access to their own medical and health data to improve their health and lifestyles.
Startups in the US such as 23andMe have long capitalized on this trend, offering everything from health checks to deep genetic testing.
One consequence is that such private companies can end up amassing huge amounts of highly sensitive and valuable medical information. In the US, 23andMe commercializes its data, partnering with major drug companies to help develop new drugs.
Asked about his own company's approach to personal data, Foley said he doesn't plan to commercialize patients' data, but that the startup is beginning to work with pharmaceutical companies "in a clinical-trial capacity only."
The firm plans to expand its commercial offering with tele-health and e-prescription services.