VoCare is raising capital for the launch of a new Medtech device, the Vitals360; a smartphone-sized diagnostic device for the Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) and Point-of-Care verticals.
Current investors include AGS Capital and SAW Capital and tax credits are available to Indiana investors via the State of Indiana.
The Vitals360 eliminates the need for extra peripherals, hubs, and tablets for managing cardiac care, diabetes and other chronic conditions and offers cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled real-time data transfer to provider, patient and family portals. The Vitals360 device measurements include: (1) Blood Glucose, (2) Blood Pressure, (3) Pulse, (4) Oximetry, (5) Temperature, and (6) Electrocardiography (ECG).
When reviewing their options to raise capital, VoCare researched and consulted with a number of crowdfunding platforms. Their goal was a $2M capital raise via Reg D 506c for trials and sales and marketing so VoCare developed the PPM required for compliance. After several years in R&D for a “doctor’s office in your pocket” vitals device, the Vitals360 was moving through FDA approvals. VoCare’s goals also wanted to build a community and attract partners.
The takeaway as VoCare wrapped up their search were four concerns:
- High platform fees
- Limited investor marketing support with the onus on issuer
- Deal clutter on the platforms
- The expectation by platforms that our current investors/prospects be added to their lists
What to do next? The equity crowdfunding platforms had a track record, expertise, systems, marketing tools, and an audience. Did those benefits justify the costs? For VoCare, the client felt the answer was no. So we asked ourselves can we use similar methods to crowdfund our raise directly on the VoCare website?
How did VoCare successfully crowdfund direct?
The strategy was to simulate some of the same tactics as the platforms but to also utilize some traditional processes – hence the “boutique crowdfunding” label, as the intended audience was accredited investors versus a mass crowdfunding.
As the equity crowdfunding industry matures, there are several great options for expert help in the space that issuers can consider.
So what was similar to platform-based equity crowdfunding?
Effective online story-telling
VoCare developed webpages that showcased their story of the Vitals360, the world’s first and only professional grade, hand-held medical device providing a 6-in-1 vitals diagnostic and remote monitoring solution. An easy to navigate pages on desktop and mobile featured a carefully structured pitch video, graphics and similar content structures to those found on platforms.
The investment page also effectively communicated the campaign metrics, massive market, competitive advantage and innovation as the core message. The home page was also utilized for additional traffic and exposure to the Limited Time Investment Opportunity.
Investor and prospect funnels
A content plan was developed to provide regular and timely communications on company progress, industry news, campaign milestones and help educate the sophisticated accredited investor audience on the opportunity.
For example, a sample campaign conveyed how Qualcomm Inc., world leader in 3G and next-generation mobile technologies, featured the Vitals360 at their booth at this past January at CES 2019 and that it was so well received that Qualcomm also showcased the device at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February.
Automated emails and campaigns were integrated with the page and a press releases section up as an archive on the corporate website to provide depth. Calendars integration ensured seamless follow-up by VoCare executives to elaborate on the opportunity and address any questions.
Leveraged momentum and timing
Business development and networking created a pool of early adopters so that momentum could be created in the first few weeks of the campaign. As a result over $600k USD was raised within a few weeks, the page updated accordingly and the progress sent to the growing list.
The advent of new government payment codes from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was also leveraged in messaging. With these new reimbursement codes, physicians are incentivized to drive more health care to the home, and leverage technology like VoCare’s Vitals360device.
A balance was struck between conservatism and the massive opportunity by only reporting on revenue and earnings projections in the US for device sales despite other market interest and other revenue models including data fees and blood monitoring strips.
How did the direct route differ from platform crowdfunding?
The front end of the investor experience was very similar to a platform but the back-end was largely handled off-line. Follow-up discussions and the actual investment process handling were completed offline. This created a nice mix between technology efficiencies and the personal touch of relationship building and high service levels. Not as seamless as a platform driven campaign but more personalized, more focused, less costly and quite effective.
A by-product of the VoCare campaign has also been considerable interest in distribution building on other partnerships including with industry heavyweights like GEMMS, of Harris Computer Systems, a division of Constellation Software, Inc. (TSX: CSU-T) and Chinese diabetes market leader SinoCare.
An issuer could also choose to add back-end functionality for a direct crowdfund via white-label solutions for contracts, accreditation and payments but VoCare felt they could handle the volume given there were significant minimum investments and that the sophisticated audience warranted a personal touch.
Will boutique crowdfunding work for your firm?
For many firms and industries, more traditional capital raising such as angel, broker/dealer led or equity crowdfunding on a carefully selected portal may be the best options. If the answer to most of the questions below is yes, you may be a candidate for considering direct boutique crowdfunding.
- Do you have an initial community or network? If you have satisfied customers that you can reach all the better.
- Can you harness a concentrated investor outreach campaign?
- Do you have a credible product innovation in a massive market?
- Are your current and future suppliers, vendors and partners interested in investing?
- Do you have a professional stakeholder such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers, engineers or similar to harness word-of-mouth?
As always, do your homework, evaluate the equity crowdfunding platforms suited to your industry, find model campaigns and consider traditional options to evaluate your best strategy. For some of you, boutique crowdfunding may now be an emerging and attractive option.
Bret Conkin is the Founder of CrowdfundSuite, an Equity, and Real Estate Crowdfunding consultancy. CrowdfundSuite provides campaign strategy and management and custom or white label platform development to help organizations raise capital or profit from alternative finance strategy and technology. Bret is an Ambassador to the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada and a former executive with FundRazr. Bret writes regularly about crowdfunding on his blog. You may follow him on twitter at @bretconkin. VoCare retained CrowdfundSuite to guide their strategy, platform selection, and campaign plan.
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