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What 3 founders learned about preparing for VC investment from the Capital Readiness Program

From Technical.ly

Plenty of growth-minded entrepreneurs Technical.ly talks to describe their struggles with fundraising. For first-time founders, especially, it can be hard to know how to prepare to raise capital — including how to make connections with investors — to take your company to the next level.

In support of execs who are ready to take that next step with fundraising, the University City Science Center has hosted three cohorts of its Capital Readiness Program. This program chooses startups from across the US to spend five days in Philadelphia at the Science Center, where they meet with investors, network with each other, and learn from experts how to grow their company.

The latest cohort includes 12 healthtech companies, with founders hailing from as far as Texas and five calling Philly home. Here’s what three of them learned from the program.

Egality Sciences

Houston-based Egality Sciences, which provides business consulting services for community clinics participating in clinical trials, has not done any fundraising yet. The Capital Readiness has helped founder and CEO Yvonne Rodriguez grasp where to start when looking for investors and what the expectations should be for that process.

“You’re able to understand why you’re asked for certain things [by investors], and you know why it’s important for you to establish those early on,” Rodriguez said. “All the professionals that were speaking to us have been doing it for such a long time that they were able to field all the questions that we had.”

For example, Rodriguez learned that investors ask company leaders about their cybersecurity plans, because smaller companies are more susceptible to ransomware attacks. Establishing a cybersecurity plan protects the company’s information as well as the patients, physicians and clinics Egality works with.

Egality Sciences is focused on expansion right now. It currently serves 12 community clinics throughout the southern United States, but Rodriguez wants to expand up the East Coast, and she especially wants to establish a presence in DC. First, she wants to make sure her team has all their information ready to go for investors so they can continue to grow and continue to help clinics.

Unio

Unio makes a digital platform that helps families with loved ones in long-term healthcare facilities stay informed. Akash Kaul, its Philly-based founder and CEO, said he previously found success raising money from family and friends, but he wants to look into institutional fundraising and believed the Capital Readiness Program would prepare him for that.

“Family and friends and people that believe in you is one thing. It’s people that know you so you’re already starting like five steps ahead,” Kaul said. “Once you sit in front of institutional funding, you’re just a name on a piece of paper. So you need to have demonstrated enough progress and enough of a vision and [due diligence] in order to kind of secure that.”

Kaul said this program brought him “back down to earth”: Instead of just focusing on his vision, he was reminded of the legal and corporate steps that are required to maintain a business.

Unio’s product is ready to go, Kaul said, but institutional funding will take the company to the next level by expanding the team and focusing on marketing to get the product out there.

Vital Start Health

Vital Start Health is a VR-based platform specifically for reproductive and maternity mental health. The Philly and New Jersey-based company previously participated in the Science Center’s Launch Lane program. Now that it is raising a seed round, founder and CEO Kirthika Parmeswaran felt it made sense to return to the org for help.

Before this program, Parmeswaran said she spent a lot of time preparing her company’s pitch. The Capital Readiness program provided connections to investors and clarity about how to tell Vital Start’s story while also incorporating what the return on investment would be for potential investors. She also took away insights about compliance, cybersecurity, insurance, and tips for hiring and firing as the company grows.

So far, Vital Start Health has raised over $500,000, per Parmerswaran, who added that the company has a lot of momentum right now with winning awards and connecting to health systems. She wants to build on that momentum with institutional funding. The goal is to raise $2.5 million next year so she can expand her team and move toward commercialization.

The other members of the latest Capital Readiness Program cohort are:

Bonus: Checking in with Trace Orthopedics

Trace Orthopedics, a company focused on minimally invasive strategies for tender repairs, participated in the last Capital Readiness cohort over the summer.

Cofounder and President Adam Greenspan said the company recently oversubscribed its current funding round: The company was aiming for $1.5 million, and as of Thursday, had raised $1.59 million. This funding will support Trace as it completes animal studies and prepares to apply for FDA clearance.

The program helped Greenspan learn soft skills related to transitioning from thinking like a founder to thinking like an executive, he said.

Greenspan’s advice to founders who are in the current cohort is to maintain relationships with investors and think about their ability to invest again. In the case of Trace Orthopedics, the company offered early exercise warrants that nudged some of its existing investors to invest again.

“What I’ve noticed, through the course of our fundraising efforts, is that riding the momentum is a really valuable exercise but also a test of patience,” Greenspan said. “To be prepared for whenever that momentum shift is coming, to have everything prepared because it can set a company back if they’re not able to capture that.”

Media Contact:

Kristen Fitch

Kristen Fitch

Senior Director, Marketing