As a single mom trying to keep tabs on her own elderly mother in the midst of a pandemic, Audrey Bond knows all too well the toll it takes on family members who feel out of the loop about their loved ones’ health situations, schedules and other vital information.
Bond is the founder of Vaultt, a startup she launched a couple of years ago to develop a mobile application that could securely store such data on a centralized platform accessible to family members, caregivers and other professionals such as lawyers and insurance agents as a means of easily sharing information between them.
“Our mission is really to help families and caregivers stay organized and connected,” says the affable entrepreneur. “Now more than ever, people need peace of mind.”
After initially coming up with the idea for the app more than a decade ago, Bond put the idea on the back burner to focus on her career as a self-employed photographer – a move she later told OBJ she regretted “every single day of my life.”
A chance run-in with Graeme Barlow, now the CEO of Ottawa digital consultancy Iversoft, rekindled her passion for the project. Since recommitting herself to her startup, Bond has seen the venture steadily gain momentum.
After raising $550,000 in a friends-and-family round last year, Bond took home the “crowd favourite” award at an Invest Ottawa pre-accelerator pitchfest last fall. Although the COVID-19 crisis temporarily stalled her quest for pre-seed funding, she says the fledgling company is once again gaining steam as more and more family members are being forced to remain apart from loved ones in special care.
“Launching during a global pandemic was never the plan, but there's a silver lining,” Bond explains. “I think more people kind of believe in Vaultt more than ever before. We are getting a significant amount of interest from across North America right now.”
Vault debuted in beta form on Apple’s App Store last month and has since been downloaded nearly 1,000 times. Bond says she hopes to have Android and web versions of the software on the market soon.
Meanwhile, the company recently landed a couple of high-profile partnerships to help get revenue flowing.
The company is now offering the app to members of the Canadian Forces at a discount and is also looking to provide free subscriptions to soldiers who are deployed to other countries. Assurance Health Care, an Ottawa-based service for the elderly, has also signed on to the platform, and Bond says the app is garnering interest from a “large pharmaceutical company” and a major insurance provider.
“As a startup, it’s pretty exciting,” she says. “We know that we’re on to something great here.”
In addition, Bond was one of 10 female business founders recently chosen for the first cohort of SheBoot, a joint initiative of the Capital Angel Network and Invest Ottawa.
The four-week program launching this fall is aimed at helping women entrepreneurs hone their investment skills, develop new business networks and meet potential investors. Among the mentors who will offer advice during the bootcamp is Julia Elvidge, the co-founder of Ottawa semiconductor firm Chipworks and one of Bond’s early investors.
SheBoot will culminate in a pitchfest, with the winner receiving $100,000 in funding from local women angels. Bond says she could definitely use the additional capital, calling cash flow perhaps her biggest concern as a founder.
“I have a lot on the line here,” she says, adding it helps to be “a little bit crazy” if you want to make it as an entrepreneur. “I have no Plan B.”