We Raised $21M, Built A Home Blood Testing Device & Took It To Market

Published: September 9th, 2021
Angelica Kohlmann
Bloom Diagnostics
from Zürich, Switzerland
started May 2018
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi! My name is Angelica Kohlmann. I’m an investor in tech and biotech companies and co-founder of Bloom Diagnostics. As a big friend of tech and an MD Ph.D., I saw the big gap between healthcare and technology, and healthcare and people, meaning that we need to bring healthcare closer to people through new technologies.

To achieve this vision, we developed a system that allows people to measure and track blood markers from home, receiving instant personal feedback and recommendations. Our customers are both individuals interested in their health and also B2B partners offering health services, such as pharmacies.

We’re entering the market as we speak, and in the first month, we were already able to win 8 pharmacies in and around Vienna.

Bloom Diagnostics’ Bloom Lab

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

New technologies and the internet have disrupted the world. Only 20 years ago, who would have thought that anyone would be able to run a computer, book trips, buy shoes or make a bank transfer from home? The only space, which is comparably analog is healthcare. It was clear that we needed to change that.

A mediocre team with a brilliant idea is less likely to succeed than a brilliant team with a mediocre idea.

Having observed many, including those who failed, we understood how complex the task was. We found the solution by developing complex products in the background, which include hardware, electronics, optics, biotechnology, medical analysis, and software, yet, creating a seamless journey for our customer - who has an “aha” moment, when he/she receives instant results and explanations about their health on their smartphone after an easy to perform a test.

With a background in medicine, as well as finance, over the past years, we as a family invested in companies relatively successfully. This gave us a solid foundation to be able to invest in a new venture ourselves. Understanding the unmet needs of patients but also healthy people, we invested the first money to start Bloom. Later, some great, renowned investors joined our journey. This is not about a quick shot, but about a long-term development, which is here to fundamentally change healthcare.

Recently, we launched the first tests in the first pharmacies in Austria and are seeing overwhelmingly positive feedback from our users. Also, we are launching the first Bloom Store in Zurich to allow customers to learn more about the products.

Take us through the process of designing this device.

In healthcare, especially if the hardware is involved, it takes a while to develop products. Regulatory requirements are very strict and you need Quality Management (QM) from the beginning. We were able to build an exceptional QM, due to having an exceptional team. You cannot start any design of a product without having implemented it in the QM System, which by the way is audited. So it was a great step to receive the ISO Certifications proving the quality of our development and certifying us a medical Company. Later in 2020, we received the CE mark for our first products.

The idea and design evolved. The path to success is characterized by fast learning and improving what you are developing without much compromise, aiming to achieve the highest standards. Tom Kupper from our family, today CPO, studied architecture and finance and was always fascinated by exceptional products. His contributions, together with great team members, as Christoph Aschl, VP Hardware, were decisive.

For the development and production of the hardware, we chose high-quality external partners in Switzerland and Germany. It is a long process until you have your first validated batches. The hardware also has its own software, the “firmware”, which needs to be perfectly aligned with all other parts and features of the system. No major bug can be tolerated. This means that constant testing and searching for bugs during the whole R&D and first production batches are necessary. We have one employee fully dedicated to it.

The most important lesson, after a proof of concept, is stamina and perseverance. There are no shortcuts.

All the necessary software is developed in-house. Meanwhile, we have a team of around 60 highly qualified employees, coming from 27 different nations.


Describe the process of launching the business.

Launching a new product means creating a new market. In this respect, the COVID-19 pandemic helped customers understand what self-testing means. Still, creating awareness for something completely new remains a challenge. It took many years until almost everyone had a smartphone, even in industrial countries. But eHealth is here to stay, and as with smartphones, there will be a strong integration of different services alongside testing, as ePrescriptions, telemedicine, and much more. Also, with the growing field of personalized medicine, diagnostics in the future will be linked much closer to personalized therapies. And this is exactly what Bloom is preparing for.

We started launching the system in Austria and will follow in Switzerland, including the implementation of the first Flagship Store in Zurich, at Fortunagasse 11, the pedestrian zone. In the store, people can have the experience, the touch, and feel of our products and receive professional advice from our pharmacists, if needed. In principle, the products are self-explanatory. Partners as pharmacies are curious and glad to receive support with some evidence, as a test result, when they advise about e.g. supplements.

After over three years of development, it is very gratifying to see the first excited customers. It took time and capital, but, as said, we are speaking about an overall disruption where people can better understand their health issues. They will always be guided to doctors in case of need.

We are proud of our website, which reflects the degree of Bloom’s innovation:


Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Only quality and a great experience will retain the customer. The customer is our focus. But as mentioned previously, the great challenge is creating awareness.

Search for the best possible people, including human factors, surround yourself with them and never be afraid to hire people who are better than you. They have to be.

As a startup, the budget for marketing is still limited, but of course, we are growing our activities here, especially in social media.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We will reach profitability in two years. Clearly, the most interesting market is the US, exactly for having enormous unmet needs within their healthcare system. We have large partners waiting for Bloom to receive approval, to then launch the products on a broad scale. In Europe, we see the first traction. We are in the early days and it is too early for sharing numbers.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

The most important lesson, after a proof of concept, is stamina and perseverance. There are no shortcuts.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use all available tools in our business, as Shopify, Hubspot, etc., but also LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc., but are still in the learning process to understand what works best. Here our data science team has also been very helpful.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I am a fan of old-school Peter Drucker, who was human-centric. Having the customer and overall humans at the center of your attention will lead to a successful business.

If we speak about red flags, of course also the book Bad Blood about Theranos is very interesting. Of course, I also like books and podcasts about founders of successful companies, such as Steve Jobs.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

A mediocre team with a brilliant idea is less likely to succeed than a brilliant team with a mediocre idea.

Search for the best possible people, including human factors, surround yourself with them and never be afraid to hire people who are better than you. They have to be. And be ruthlessly honest to yourself and others.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Bloom is constantly hiring the best people. We have our open positions on the website, but we have already hired people we were not looking for, just because they were exceptional. The fastest-growing team presently is the software and data science team - here we're always looking for exceptional talent.

Where can we go to learn more?

Angelica Kohlmann, Founder of Bloom Diagnostics
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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