Case Study: Atom Limbs
“I discovered that crowdfunding is a much more viable path to funding your company – holistically – than even I had expected. I tweeted the other day ‘Silicon Valley is sleeping on equity crowdfunding’ and I honestly mean that very strongly.”
- Tyler Hayes, Founder & CEO of Atom Limbs
Atom Limbs’ technology seems like the stuff of sci-fi. Their team is building mind-controlled, bionic limbs to restore physical mobility for amputees, quadriplegics, and military veterans. They closed their Wefunder round just this past month, after raising over $1.8M from 2,000+ investors. They’re an absolutely incredible team developing mind-blowing technology and we were stoked to have them on the platform.
Here are some basic stats about the company before we dive into how their founder, Tyler Hayes, ran such a stellar raise:
- Size of the team: 6 full-time employees & a few additional contractors.
- Business model: B2C, (sell directly to amputees & prosthetists, clinicians who will “prescribe” the bionic limb)
- Size of customer base: 100+ member waitlist. Trialed by 20 amputees, quadriplegics, military, teleoperations.
- Amount raised pre-Wefunder: $120M grant from Dept of Defense & DARPA used for R&D last 15 years.
Tips for Building Early Momentum
Tyler highlighted that, early on, it’s all about bringing traffic to your pitch. Use this time to hone your communication strategy – figure out which channels are bringing people in and which aren’t.
- Get early commitments from your network. Tyler secured ~$200K from his personal network of ~500 contacts in the first 48 hours after launch. Since he’d only had a couple weeks to prep, he sent another email to his network right after launch, letting them know the round was live. This was key! Many people were interested but had missed his email or had forgotten to actually head over to the Wefunder pitch.
- Run outreach experiments. Atom Limbs was actually coming out of stealth mode as it launched its Wefunder round! Since they didn’t have an established base of supporters, they were unsure which channels would perform the best between social media posts, angel networks, Facebook ads, press features, etc. so they ran outreach “experiments.”
- Enlist help to flood social media. Many social media accounts are (much) better than one or two! Tyler pinged his network and asked people to share posts about the round.
- Circle back with your network often. Tyler emailed his personal network super often (every ~3 days) highlighting round milestones, new company developments, or wild media attention like Steven Pinker giving them a shoutout on his Twitter.
Tips for Maintaining Momentum
- Tap into existing angel networks. Tyler managed to tap into Angels & Entrepreneurs and Startup Camp to get in front of these really active investor communities. He suspects that these networks actually spread the word themselves; through new investor outreach, he noticed investors coming from much smaller networks like LinkedIn groups and even country club investor groups!
- Partner with a marketing agency. After seeing investment traffic slow around $400K, Tyler enlisted the help of an industry-specific marketing agency, the Arora Project. They offer founders various types of publicity help, but they mainly helped out Atom by running Facebook ads.
- Add a banner to your site’s homepage. Tyler noticed a bunch of traffic from Instagram and Facebook to the Atom Limbs website. To ensure that these visitors knew Atom was raising on Wefunder, he added a banner on the website’s homepage, which he then updated with raise milestones as they were hit.
- Engage with new investors. Tyler would send out an automated email via MailChimp to all new investors daily. It would be a short email – pretty much just a thank you and a line asking why they invested – but he credits this with encouraging many investors to double back and up their investment. As a bonus, he got thousands of replies speaking to how inspired people felt by their tech, which was both great content to share (with permission) and great motivation to keep grinding.
Nearing Close Tips
- Ramp up Wefunder Updates. Over the course of the round, the Atom Limbs pitch page had accumulated ~2,000 followers. In the final 2-4 weeks, Tyler ramped up Wefunder updates to get any investors who hadn’t invested yet to seal the deal.
- Fire all pistons! In the final weeks before close, it’s pedal to the metal. Tyler doubled down on all the channels which had proved to be effective to bring in new traffic – ads, press interviews etc.
Tyler reminded me that fundraising is ultimately about getting people excited – excited about what you’re building and why. Sure, all investors have their own methods and due diligence habits but there’s an undeniable emotional element to getting people’s support.
Be intentional & consistent as you tell the world your company’s story. Figure out the emotional appeal of your mission and bring that to the forefront.
For more fundraising tips, head over to our playbook.