How life science and digital health companies can find crowd funding success
Misfit Wearables launched outside San Francisco in 2011 based on the thesis that wearable computing would become a major market in the next decade. The company’s inaugural product, Shine, is a metal and waterproof wearable personal activity tracker that measures steps, calories, and distance traveled, along with activity level.
The company’s founder and CEO Sonny Vu shared his insights on crowd funding success, being lean while producing hardware, and building a great team and company culture.
Find success in crowd funding – Misfit Wearables did a consumer test through the crowd funding platform IndieGoGo to see if people would be interested Shine. The answer came quickly. The company met its $100,000 goal within 10 hours and, several weeks later, Misfit Wearables had raised $850,000. Vu attributed the campaign’s success to a few key strategies. The company conveyed a compelling story to its potential funders, he said, through great photos and videos, along with team bios that portrayed a credible and authentic workforce. And, Vu said, Misfit Wearables studied other campaigns to learn about timing their efforts. “We timed everything down to the hour for the first two weeks,” he said.
Be lean when working with hardware – “Being lean about doing hardware is a good thing,” Vu said. “It’s easy to make expensive mistakes with hardware.” How can a company producing hardware be lean? To the extent you can, Vu said, draw up your product, sell it, and – if people buy it – make more as fast as you can. The lean approach, he added, is to sell first and make more if consumers are buying. If the product is selling, Vu said, build a sales team to sell more. If it’s not selling, he added, don’t build a sales team.
Focus on building a great team – One way to measure a company’s success – it’s something early-stage investors look for – is whether a great team backs it. Focus on hiring good people from the beginning, Vu said. “You need teams to execute,” he added.
Build company culture – Part of building a great team is developing a solid company culture, Vu said. Company culture should be based on what the founder cares about, he said, and should be established early and emphasized to the team. At Misfit Wearables, Vu said, company values include thoughtfulness, unconventionality, and serving others through leadership.