Early backer of Uber funds smartphone-based device for at-home diagnosis of flu

Shervin Pishevar, one of the earlier backers of new-age taxi service Uber, is throwing his support behind San Diego startup Cue, which is developing a home-enabled diagnostic for testing for testosterone, fertility, inflammation, vitamin D and influenza.

The company is associating itself with many star companies like Uber and Apple ($AAPL)--it is working with that company's manufacturing partner, PCH International--and actual stars as well, for financial backers include actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Salesforce.com chief executive Marc Benioff and former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Pishevar's Sherpa Ventures, which he co-founded, led the way with a $7.5 million investment.

Advantages of the in-development diagnostic tool include its convenience, versatility and speed. Tests can be run in the home in a few minutes instead of a few hours at the laboratory. Users insert their bodily fluid sample into a computer dubbed the Cue, which then sends the results over Bluetooth to an iPhone app, the article explains.

Cue CEO Ayub Khattak

The Cue will cost $199, and the single-use cartridges for the tests will each cost $4. "The business model is a razor-and-blade model," said co-founder Ayub Khattak in the WSJ article. "We don't plan on making a profit on the razor."

Next up is securing FDA approval for the device, which it hopes to obtain by the end of 2015. Production is slated for mid-2015.

"Hardware startups are generally considered harder to execute on," Khattak told the WSJ. "If you look at the challenges that are involved in a normal product and then you add chemistry to it, it's another layer of difficulty."

- read the article in the WSJ's Digits blog

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