Want to Connect with Investors? Innovation Challenge Winner Catherine Song Shares Her Success Strategies

27 Jun

Catherine Song

An interview with Catherine Song, Founder & CEO of Soundable Health

– By Claire Jeong, Director of Research, Asia BD, LSN

Claire Jeong

The RESI Innovation Challenge provides participants with an opportunity to build their presence, get their message out, and make new connections at RESI.  For our RESI Philadelphia winner Catherine Song (Founder & CEO of Soundable Health), the Innovation Challenge led to many new investor dialogues. The Innovation Challenge truly helped Catherine get the most out of RESI, and this week, we interviewed her to find out how she had turned a poster display spot in the RESI Exhibition Hall into success.

The Innovation Challenge draws a diverse group of companies at each Redefining Early Stage Investments (RESI) Conference event.  At RESI Philadelphia, the 35 finalists represented 9 countries on 4 continents, featuring technologies in therapeutics, diagnostics, medtech and digital health. The winner Soundable Health, is a company with USA and South Korea offices, and is developing a diagnostic app for uroflowmetry. Catherine started from the ground up to build Soundable Health’s USA operations, and she continues to work tirelessly to grow the company. Catherine and I discussed how attending RESI and participating in the RESI Innovation Challenge has helped Soundable Health.

Lucy Parkinson, VP of Investor Research, Life Science Nation | Catherine Song, Founder & CEO, Soundable Health | Dennis Ford, Founder & CEO, Life Science Nation

Claire Jeong(CJ): It has already been over 3 weeks since you won the Innovation Challenge at RESI Philadelphia! How have you been?

Catherine Song(CS): We have lots of exciting news to share. First, we raised an additional $392K in seed funding, and we are looking to close our $2M seed round by the end of July through investors I have met at RESI, among others. Additionally, we are in the process of assembling a commercial team to fortify our USA operations including a senior business developer with a successful track record of commercializing multiple digital health products. We also pitched at the Plug and Play Summer Summit, and our real-world study that ran from late 2018 to early 2019 was published at the International Continence Society (ICS), one of the major conferences in the field of urinary disorders (https://www.ics.org/2019/abstract/664). In addition to investors, we are looking for strategic partners from hospitals and health systems who can support further clinical research.

CJ: Being a company with origins in South Korea, what was the most difficult part of expanding into the USA? How did RESI help in this aspect?

CS: The biggest challenge was overcoming the cultural differences between USA and South Korea. The investors from these two nations view investment opportunities from very different perspectives. Also, understanding how the startup-VC ecosystem in the USA works was challenging. “How do startups and VCs here connect with each other? Where do I even begin?” were big question marks for me. I just approached everything with an open mindset, made some mistakes along the way, and learned from these experiences.

Because RESI is an early-stage investment-focused conference packed in just a single day, you are forced to meet with various groups at a very rapid pace. From that one day, you learn so much! RESI’s panels are very informative. Another daunting aspect for me was getting accustomed to the healthcare system in the USA and strategizing our business model based on how USA health systems operate, as it is very different from what South Korea has to offer. Attending panels like “Digital Health” and “Investing in Mental & Behavioral Health” really helped me gain valuable insights from active industry leaders. Being able to network briefly with the panelists at the end of each panel is also a huge plus.

CJ: How did you find out about RESI in the first place?

CS: Word of mouth. A fellow entrepreneur who had attended RESI in the past spoke highly about the event, so I knew I had to check it out. My first conference was actually RESI San Francisco, where I was highly impressed with the quality of investors and panel sessions. If I didn’t enjoy the experience, I wouldn’t have joined again.

CJ: Did you meet a lot of investors and strategic partners at RESI Philadelphia? What were your meetings like at the partnering forum, and at the poster?

CS: Looking back at the number of investors I met and the quality of my meetings, I did much better than at RESI San Francisco. That was my first event so it was more of a learning experience for me, though I had very good meetings at RESI SF. By the time of RESI Philadelphia, I had a better understanding of how to make the most out of the conference.

I met so many people at my Innovation Challenge poster. What was nice about the meetings I had there, was that they were not strictly limited to investors. For example, I was able to engage ad hoc with fellow startups and identify potential synergies. A lot of the feedback revolved around how they saw my product and technology from a regular customer’s point of view, which is always a very important consideration for us. Another great part about presenting as an Innovation Challenge finalist was that I was able to meet almost everyone I couldn’t connect with through the one-on-one partnering system.

CJ: Are you following up with the groups that you met at RESI? What kind of strategies have you developed?

CS: Absolutely, I have existing dialogue with many groups. It’s an ongoing relationship with most of them. I found that figuring out exact next steps and asking them for honest feedback has helped tremendously with my investor meetings. The investors I have met at RESI are incredibly transparent and are not afraid to share candid, detailed feedback, such as required additional clinical data, what kind of pilots need to be done in the future, how we can improve our business model, etc.

For example, if an investor says “You’re too early”, then I ask specifically about the milestones I would need to accomplish to make our company more appealing to them in a future financing round. I would ask detailed questions such as “What milestone is considered a good milestone for your group? How can I best seek to mitigate risk?”, and they actually provide answers. You can really tell they are genuinely trying to help, given that our technology is of some interest. Meeting investors at RESI made me realize that one meeting is not everything. Even if our company is not an immediate fit, building and cultivating these investor relationships are so important. With these groups, I could continue to keep in touch regarding my updates and continue to receive valuable feedback. Who knows if this will eventually lead to an investment or a strategic relationship?

CJ: What was your strategy for the IC, and what tips do you have for future IC participants?

CS: I think we had a good advantage in that we have a valid product – an app – so it was easy to show and explain our product and technology. I tried to attract as many people as possible to my poster and attempted to speak with almost everyone who was passing by.

Another strategy that was useful for me was to invite investors to come to my poster. I had some investors who declined one-on-one meetings, mostly due to time constraints. With such investors, as well as groups they were not responding to my partnering requests, I followed up with them to visit my poster and offered to have a quick chat. And to my surprise, these groups actually stopped by and some of them ended up being fantastic meetings!

CJ: Do you have any other general tips for startup attendees?

CS: Making myself as available as possible is another strategy that worked for me. Obviously, it is best to meet at RESI but schedules fill quickly. I took advantage of the fact that a lot of investors stay a few extra days before and/or after RESI, especially when RESI is held concurrent with major industry events like JPM or BIO. When doing follow-ups, I let them know of my exact availability outside of RESI and offered to meet them at their convenience. I fully leveraged RESI’s partnering system, did my follow ups diligently, and this ultimately helped me generate a lot of meetings outside of RESI.

CJ: Will you be attending RESI again? Would you recommend the Innovation Challenge?

CS: Absolutely yes! The Innovation Challenge was a great way to boost my exposure. I will continue to attend RESI actively as my schedule allows, and I look forward to making new investors connections and continuing existing relationships at future conferences.

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Soundable Health is targeting the multi-billion dollar urinary health monitoring market, which assesses changes in urine flow rate commonly seen in patients with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). The core area of focus is uroflowmetry, a non-invasive screening urodynamic test recommended by the American Urological Association (AUA), but currently plagued by a variety of issues including limited efficacy and poor ease of use. Most notably, conventional uroflowmetry requires patients to visit a clinic to fill and empty their bladder to be tested, which does not allow for remote monitoring, a key drawback in being able to assess patients in the long run.

To address this problem, Soundable Health has developed PRIVY(R), a paradigm-shifting Mobile Medical App that could quickly become the gold standard for early detection, patient selection and treatment follow-up for various forms of urinary dysfunction, including BPH and OAB. PRIVY is the only one of its kind and uses a smartphone to record the sound of urine flow. This acoustic signal is immediately analyzed by our AI-engine and is used to infer key metrics of urine flow, including speed and volume. Real-time data capture also enables the development of proprietary analytics to detect and flag any marked changes in urine flow rate that may be indicative of underlying disease. Launched in early May, PRIVY currently has over 500 active users (including over 100 doctors) and over 3,000 analyses have been performed.

Check out the PRIVY app through these download links below:
Apple App Store:
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/privy-us-urinary-health/id1455952391
Android Apps on Google Play:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.soundable.privyandroid.us

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