When Renee Hoyle was 8, her mom told her something no child wants to hear—her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer at just 36 years old.
Even more frustrating, months earlier, when doctors initially spotted the potential tumor, they lost her biopsy sample. By the time Hoyle’s mother could come back for another biopsy, the cancer had metastasized to her lymph nodes. She was forced to go through chemotherapy treatments, which had lingering side effects so bad she ended up becoming diabetic.
Hoyle doesn’t want anyone to ever have to experience what her family did. That’s why she founded Raleigh-based LabRunner to make sure patients don’t have to receive a call that their biopsy has been lost.
When this happens, Hoyle said, “the diagnosis is gone.”
“There’s just a big passion in our company to make sure that no one experiences that loss, that effect on their health care and on their health that can never be undone,” she added.
She knows from her own experience that keeping track of biopsies—LabRunners’ solution uses GPS sensors—and ensuring they don’t become lost will change lives. Lost biopsies can lead to life-threatening delays in diagnosing and treating illnesses.
“Those effects are not just for that person,” Hoyle said. “They ripple through their family as well, and I really don’t want anyone else to go through that.”
As the anatomic pathology manager at WakeMed, Hoyle has been passionate about improving healthcare for decades. This specific problem that she dealt with as a child through her mother became something she saw patients encounter on a regular basis at so many of the hospitals she worked at.
“We’re not the faces that they see in the surgery, but we’re the people who help get their diagnosis,” Hoyle said. “So it’s important that we do everything we can do to make sure that happens seamlessly.”
After thinking about how to create a solution to this problem for years, she vented to IT professional Cd Singh about it. That was when they began laying the framework for what would become LabRunner in 2021, with Singh coming aboard as a Co-Founders.
Essentially, LabRunner is a plug-and-play solution for healthcare systems. With a mobile app and web portal, it enables GPS tracking of specimens at three different subscription tiers.
So far, LabRunner has been bootstrapped. However, the $10,000 NC IDEA MICRO grant funding that the startup received in April was an indicator that others believe in the product, Singh said.
“There are a lot more grants but our main focus was to get attention and recognition, which we got and was inspiring for us,” Singh said. “We look forward to learning much more from NC IDEA.”
It’s already been a significant journey since 2021 when Hoyle and Singh were just launching the company from their dining room table. As they target their first hospital lab customers, the app has added additional features for increased flexibility and user friendliness.
Since it launched in 2021, around a year after Covid-19 first made its mark, LabRunner is also making its market entrance at a time in which there’s an increased spotlight on the difficulties faced by frontline hospital workers.
“The pandemic has left healthcare in a different state than we were two years ago,” Hoyle said. “We just have a lot less staff and a more difficult time finding trained people, so I feel like this app saves time and it adds efficiency to the system.”
For Hoyle, the tech entrepreneurial adventure is one she wishes she started years ago. What started as a desire to make a positive impact has turned into a compelling business opportunity.
“I wish I had gotten into this community 20 years ago,” Hoyle said. “The startup community in this area is just so helpful, and everyone is willing to just share their knowledge. You really feel that they want you to succeed.”