Ahead of our second Digital Health Call with RYSE Asset Management LLP, offering companies up to £5m to grow their business, we spoke with Alex Heaton, CEO of LiveSmart. The health and wellbeing digital platform received £1.25m in the first round of DigitalHealth.London’s partnership with RYSE and Alex tells us about his funding journey and the next steps for his company.
Apply for the RYSE Digital Health Call – Deadline Monday 5 August 2019.
Tell us about LiveSmart
We founded LiveSmart four years ago when we realised there was a change in society. People were moving away from just going to the doctor when they were sick, to wanting to understand and be at the centre of their own care.
We’re a health tracking and coaching service that typically looks at 100 health data points, and then supports you to improve your health through nutrition and exercise. When you’re planning to lose weight, you use a weighing scale to measure your progress, so it made sense to us to build a scale for your entire health, which helps users to monitor improvements and get back on track when needed.
Who do you work with?
Once we were established, we needed to commercialise it in different markets, which took us down the b2b route. We generally work with corporates and insurance companies, who are progressive in this area. We’re proud to have one of the highest uptake rates in the industry, which is down to our world-class doctors, cutting edge technology, affordability and plans to suit a range of businesses.
What issues are you addressing through your business?
We are a generalist health intervention service aimed at preventing all types of chronic disease. The biggest killer in the UK is heart disease which can be prevented through lifestyle changes and 45% of cancers are preventable through stopping smoking, exercise, managing our weight and reducing alcohol intake.
Preventative health is severely under invested, but it can have such a great impact on the individual, society, and the NHS. Whilst we don’t work with the NHS directly, by preventing and managing these life-long conditions, we are reducing costs to the UK health systems in the long term.
Why did you choose London to base your company?
London is a great place to grow a technology company, however it is becoming increasingly difficult to access funding because of the implications of Brexit. We are lucky to still have an incredible talent pool here, which has helped us to recruit our top NHS doctors, dietitians and support staff. It is also an ideal hub to access routes into the US and Asia, with networks around you who have travelled that path and can support you along the way.
How have you raised funding on your journey?
We have generally secured funding through Angels; such as Angels in MedCity, Clearly Social Angels or through individual angels; Family Offices; the London Co-Investment Fund, and our most recent investment was from RYSE. We have an excellent Chairman, Lee Robinson, who is a successful Hedge Fund Founder and Investor who has great connections and knowledge around the investment world.
What are you using the RYSE funding for?
The funding has opened up opportunities to expand into new jurisdictions and we are currently developing a multi-million-pound contract with Malaysia. Our aim is to work with insurance companies and large corporates, so we have been able to build lasting relationships there. As always, we also needed funding to continue building and advancing our technology.
How has RYSE and DigitalHealth.London supported you?
DigitalHealth.London raised this opportunity with us, as we have a longstanding relationship following our year on the Accelerator. The Accelerator helped us to better understand the UK market and public health, and ultimately that we wanted to focus our energies on commercial partners, over the NHS.
Claudio and Shabir at RYSE have been great – alongside the access to funding they have connected us with other funds and introduced us to new business opportunities.
Any tips for companies looking to apply for funding?
Firstly, you should make sure that your proposition is realistic, in terms of the amount of money you’re asking for and what you want it for. You can figure this out by talking to people and I’d advise finding at least one investor who you can speak with to help develop your proposition. Get in front of a business angel or someone who understands the financing market to ensure it makes sense.
The second point is to know what your route to market is – people often think they will sell into the NHS, but it’s such a complex route and is very challenging if you don’t know how to do it. You need to have a clear idea of how you’re going to commercialise your product or service, make it successful, and ultimately, what your exit plan is.
What’s next for you?
As a digital health SME, we are always looking ahead to the next round of funding and how we are going to get there. Next, we are looking to raise a significant Series A, to help us to continue building our international opportunities.