The founder of a consumer health app pitched to 500 VCs with no luck before she raised $7.2 million in funding. 4 strategies helped her turn the tide.

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Chrissa McFarlane. Courtesy of Chrissa McFarlane This story is available exclusively on Business Insider Prime. Join BI Prime and start reading now. When it comes to raising money in the tech space, it can be challenging to get VCs to support your vision. Chrissa McFarlane, CEO and founder of the consumer health app Patientory, told Business Insider that she pitched her idea to 500 VCs before securing a $7.2 million token sale raise in June 2017. McFarlane said she turned the tide by focusing on crowdfunding, building a community of advocates, boiling down her customers' needs, and clearly stating how her product solves a crucial problem. "Unfortunately, rejection is a part of the process, but what entrepreneurs must hold steadfast to is staying focused on what they can do to move the process forward," she said. "I couldn't live in what opportunities didn't exist; instead, I had to think positively and creatively to see a solution when it presented itself." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories .
When Chrissa McFarlane founded her startup Patientory , a consumer health app aimed at providing users with actionable insights into their health data, in 2015, she said there were no other companies in the healthcare space looking to accomplish the same thing.
"We were essentially building enterprise blockchain solutions for healthcare and there was no market for it, only bitcoin," McFarlane said.
But having an idea ahead of its time, she said, had its downsides: There were no takers for it from a funding perspective. Nevertheless, the optimistic founder and CEO continued to pitch her idea to venture capitalists.
After seven months of getting rejected by 500 different VCs, she realized the change she had to make to her pitch: She had to better help potential funders understand her vision.
"While investors understood the need for Patientory, they weren't familiar with blockchain technology in the health space and its ability to help solve the issues we were trying to solve," McFarlane said. "I would win pitch competitions and meet with VCs; however, it never equated into investment."
But, she added, "I could not let that deter me from my goal."
With much determination, she received a $7.2 million token sale raise in June 2017, followed by a $5.3 million series A fundraise in August 2019. Well-groomed to solve patient problems
McFarlane's background in health IT and healthcare consulting played a major role in her conviction about the need for her company's offerings. With over a decade of experience in the industry, including roles in telemedicine and health insurance, most recently leading a team for the digital health technology company Sherpaa in New York City, the CEO learned the inner workings of the healthcare industry and the obstacles that both patients and physicians faced.
"I founded Patientory from both personal and professional experiences and frustration with patients not being able to have access to their own health information," she said. "Our core purpose in making healthcare personal is to empower patients globally by giving them access to their health information and connecting them with their many caregivers for improved health outcomes and wellbeing."
According to the company's website, Patientory — which is currently in beta testing — hopes to "connect doctors, care providers, and consumers all within a single, secure platform." Accepting that it was time for a change
McFarlane's road to successful funding began with an admission that it was time to shift gears completely. After coming up empty handed when seeking funds from hundreds of VCs, the CEO decided to explore community-based investment sources like crowdfunding resources and grants.
"[I]t actually ended up being the best thing to happen to Patientory," she said. "We decided to reach out to people who most resonated with the issue our company was trying to solve. Through our marketing and social media efforts we were able to curate a global community from different parts of the world."
This new approach garnered interest in Patientory's offering and started attracting investors through equity crowdfunding, which receives funds in exchange for equity from non-institutionalized investors. Bringing the product to life
When she was first contemplating crowdfunding, McFarlane realized that she needed to position her company to drive interest in a meaningful way — choosing to focus more on portraying a consumer persona rather than a VC persona.
"The interest here was focused less on financial metrics, which is more what investors want to see in companies," she said. "I really had to sit down and think about how blockchain would impact my company and how the feedback would be measured in the marketplace."
To this end, she and her team crafted a whitepaper that demonstrated every detail of her proposed product to really bring its applications to life for potential investors and ensure that they understood Patientory's value. This e...