Audrey Bond is taking another shot at building an app that she herself desperately needed many years ago.
The Ottawa-based entrepreneur and single mother struggled time and again to share pertinent information about her daughter – schedules, vaccination records and the like – with her ex-husband.
She tried nearly a decade ago to develop an application that could centralize and securely store such information between the two of them. She hired developers, got set up with Invest Ottawa while the agency was still operating out of its Little Italy location, and set to work building the app as a side hustle.
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But it didn’t work. Bond, who worked full-time as a self-employed photographer while also raising a young daughter, couldn’t get the startup off the ground.
“It wasn’t the right time for me personally,” she says. “I walked away, and I regretted it every single day of my life.”
“I walked away, and I regretted it every single day of my life.”
As her daughter grew up, the idea of building an app to help divorced families never left Audrey’s mind. At the same time, she was having conversations with more people who said they need this kind of app – beyond just divorced families. Children who needed to share information about their aging parents’ health and military families separated by deployments could all benefit from the app Bond first imagined all those years ago.
A chance run-in a couple years ago with Graeme Barlow, chief marketing officer for Ottawa-based digital consultancy Iversoft, set the wheels back in motion when he asked her whatever happened to her startup vision.
“A lot of people don’t get second chances like this,” Bond says. “The time was right.”
Vaultt, Bond’s app for sharing and storing family information, is gearing up to launch early next year. Bond has raised $600,000 in a friends-and-family round to finance the app’s development. The idea took home the “crowd favourite” award at a recent Invest Ottawa pre-accelerator pitchfest, and Bond will take the stage this Friday at TiECon for a chance to secure another $100,000 investment.
Development on the app’s first version wrapped up this past week. The work is being led by Iversoft, which has a bigger stake in Vaultt’s success than most of its other partners.
That’s because Iversoft is among the contributors to Vaultt’s early equity round.
Bond’s decision to insist on end-to-end encryption for the platform raised the price tag on the app’s development. As the owner of a resource-strapped startup, Bond proposed Iversoft take on equity in Vaultt to get the work done at a discount – an outside-the-box idea to which the digital consultancy ultimately agreed.
“It just reinforced that they’re the right people to work with on this,” Bond said.
Among the remainder of Vaultt’s investors are a few of Shopify’s early employees and what Bond calls a “rally of women.” While she has a number of male investors involved in the firm, having the backing of numerous women as she brings her idea to life gives her a strong sense of support.
Though the end product may be a direct-to-consumer application, Bond is taking a B2B approach that sees her partner with organizations such as major Canadian banks and retirement homes to get Vaultt in front of users in its target markets.
The other institution Bond is looking to partner with is the Canadian military. Inspired by her own service experience, Bond believes the organized structure of the armed forces will be well-suited to a secure application that could vastly improve home life for soldiers on deployment.
Bond says the company will offer the app for free to families with a deployed spouse and a discount for anyone else connected to the military.
“We’re able to get Vaultt into the hands of those that want it and need it the most.”
Vaultt is set to launch to the public in early 2020.