6 mins | 1156 words
Audrey Bond wants to keep you connected to your loved ones.
Years ago, Audrey was struck by the challenges of sharing vital documents for her daughter with her ex-husband; an issue she would face again during the pandemic, while trying to get critical information to the healthcare professionals tending to her ageing parents.
Today, as the founder and CEO of information management system and communication platform, Vaultt, Audrey is making sure other families don’t have to go through what she did: empowering them with a quick, easy and secure way to share important information critical to ensuring quality of care for their loved ones.
Through this pandemic, her solution has proven more valuable than ever. But it’s Audrey’s human-centred approach — with user’s privacy, security and accessibility at the forefront — that has landed her partnerships with two industry giants, in just two years since launching her business.
While COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of information management technologies, Audrey believes there’s no going back. She explained how “Families have always needed this solution, but the pandemic has made it essential.”
Audrey pulled from her own experiences as a single mom when building her company. “Women have been leading information management for a long time, but the company has been the family.” She said, “I was the primary caregiver and I was frustrated that there was no secure location to organize this information. Everything was really, really fragmented.”
In 2019, she brought her vision to life, describing how although they “did a few quick pivots in 2020, Vaultt is still the same platform we started out with. We just added a few new features and enhanced others.”
Among these enhancements was a foray into healthcare, propelled by the growing impact of the pandemic. “We launched mid-summer of 2020, and before we knew it we were deep into the pandemic. People suddenly weren’t able to be there in-person for their families, to share vital information in the ER, at urgent care, with physicians.”
Partnering with a global giant
Over the last two years, Audrey successfully evolved her model, finding product-market-fit, growing her team, and landing an enviable partnership with the world’s largest private pharmaceutical company. “I’m so thankful to have this partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim,” said Audrey, explaining that the company’s “mission is so aligned with ours.”
On Boehringer Ingelheim’s website, they express their commitment to “improving the health and quality of life of humans,” while their Ethics & Compliance section describes how they “prioritize the establishment and maintenance of public trust. Transparency is, therefore, a key pillar of our corporate culture, as well as a vital principle in healthcare compliance.”
Trust your gut
Ironically, Audrey had been advised against the very transparency that, in the end, appealed to Boehringer Ingelheim. “I was getting a lot of advice when we started out. Because of the data clients would be inputting to Vaultt, I was urged to mine and monetize it.” Explained Audrey. “But it didn’t feel right. And I’m so grateful that I held strong to my beliefs.”
By prioritizing her platform’s security and the privacy of its users, Audrey secured Vaultt’s future as a viable solution for the healthcare industry, where protecting patient data is of the utmost importance. As she said, “I refused to give up on building a product with end-to-end encryption. At the end of the day, my number one priority was, and still is, protecting our user’s data and privacy.”
Her advice to founders who are starting out? “Trust your gut. People will give you polar opposite pieces of advice for almost everything. But your gut will guide you in the right direction.”
Making a difference back home
Just this month, Audrey’s team launched their new feature for Boehringer Ingelheim, onboarding 3,000 of their patients. “Partnering with Boehringer Ingelheim was a massive opportunity,” she said, “they’re our first large customer. The feature they wanted to build, and so generously share with everybody on the Vaultt platform, is transformative, and timely.”
Back home in Ottawa, the impact of her work hasn’t gone unnoticed. “The value of this technology was recognized by The Ottawa Hospital as well.” Vaultt plans to integrate their solution with the hospital’s electronic health record system, staying true to their mission of supporting families.
“If your loved one is in the hospital, and you can’t be there because of distance, or COVID-19 regulations,” said Audrey, “you can still have peace of mind, knowing that the vital information needed to take care of them is accessible and shareable at the touch of a button.”
Founders helping founders
Audrey is committed to lifting others up, whether they work with her or not. Right now, that looks like mentoring fellow women founders, who, in 2020, have seen their funding drop to 2.3%.
“I recently spoke with a founder from Toronto,” said Audrey, “who reached out because she had questions about end-to-end encryption, which is a core element of Vaultt’s offering. “I was happy to share some advice with her about my journey, lessons learned, where I went wrong, and, of course where I went right.”
This kind of supportive community-building is critical for entrepreneurs — who often start and spend years building their business solo — to succeed. As Audrey said, “It’s hard to truly understand the challenges founders face if you’re not in the arena.” This is one of the reasons why when Audrey discovered Invest Ottawa’s IO Ignition program (formerly known as the IO Pre Accelerator Program), she was quick to apply. And then when the team at SheBoot (an Ottawa-based 6-week bootcamp that prepares founders to pitch their business and secure investment) approached her to join their inaugural cohort, she was thrilled.
“There’s so much value in founders helping founders.” Audrey explained, “Our challenges are different from those starting a regular business. So when you meet a fellow tech startup founder, they can quickly become your friend and ally. They’ve been through many of the highs and lows and challenges you’ve been through.”
Securing investment is among the greatest challenges startup founders face. As Audrey said, “There’s something to be said about being surrounded by people whose mission it is to help you raise money. Any support that we can get is huge, but the experience in SheBoot was incredible. I can’t put to words how much programming like this is needed, and how valuable it is for any business.”
It takes a village
Other than a certain caffeinated beverage (“I’m unofficially sponsored by coffee,” she quipped), Audrey credits her rapid momentum to her team, people who are as passionate about her mission and values as she is.
“I am surrounded by some really awesome people.” She explained. “Vaultt wouldn’t be where it is today without our small but mighty startup team, and their passion for what we’re building.”
The impact-driven crew supporting Vaultt also includes a host of partners, advisors and investors. As Audrey said, “It was hard, at the very beginning, when it was just me and my dream. I held on so tightly to it. I believe that was what attracted the right people to my team. When I look back, at where I started, and where I am today, I feel like I’ve done a good job. And I take pride in that.”
This article is a part of the SheBoot spotlight series. To read other stories that highlight women founders building exciting tech and tech-enabled startups, click here.
Invest Ottawa has a holistic tech portfolio, meaning our services and programs (including IO Ignition and SheBoot!) help businesses by shortening their growth path. To learn more about how we do this, visit Venture Path Programs | Invest Ottawa.