Ottawa Founders: Through Vaultt, Audrey Bond speaks her language of love

Audrey Bond, founder and CEO of Ottawa-based health communication company Vaultt.
Audrey Bond, founder and CEO of Ottawa-based health communication company Vaultt.
Editor's Note

Ottawa Founders is an occasional column prepared by the Capital Angel Network that celebrates leaders in the community who are helping to build the future.

Words of affirmation and acts of service are a couple of the more common expressions of love, but Audrey Bond defines hers with one simple word: caring.

Bond is the founder and CEO of Vaultt, an Ottawa-based, health-focused communication and information management platform that aims to ease the stress caregivers face when taking care of people with rare diseases and chronic illnesses. The startup’s goal is to help families, caregivers and patients stay connected and organized in one secure, private and accessible place, all while alleviating the burden, reducing the need for paper files, and giving patients full control of their data.

A single mom busy parenting her daughter while taking care of aging parents with complex health issues, Bond says she has a long history of looking after those around her. She’s experienced the crushing stress and emotional toll caregiving can take on a family member.

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“My mom has been a paraplegic since I was young and I was always aware of her medical needs. My dad had Alzheimer’s disease. It was so overwhelming,” she says. “But it wasn’t just about their health journeys and keeping their appointments and prescriptions organized. It was also about handling their finances, paying their bills, doing their taxes, dealing with insurance and legal issues. I looked for a secure solution to help me navigate everything, a digital place where I could store and share information with my brother. It didn’t exist.” 

A long-time entrepreneur who’s run multiple businesses, Bond had an idea with real potential to alleviate this universal problem. But when it first came to her, she didn’t have the bandwidth to act on it. 

“My daughter was little, my parents were ill and when you’re a single parent who has to work there’s not much time for anything else.”

Fortunately, the opportunity came back around about four years ago and her idea for the platform became even more essential during the pandemic. 

“I still needed it. All the pain points were still there and everyone was saying the same thing: there was a huge need for a secure place to organize health information,” says Bond. 

With a teenage daughter and more capacity to dedicate time to a startup, she put Vaultt on the front burner and launched in the summer of 2020. 

Information at the touch of a button

The product she conceptualized is close to the product that’s been available to caregivers for the past two years. The app is designed for the user to enter and store everything from vaccination updates and prescriptions, to symptom tracking and directives for health-care providers. Users can also create tasks (“take mom to the cardiologist”) and sync their calendar with other caregivers. 

“If you have a medical condition and you’re unable to share that information with urgent care or emergency rooms, for example, you or your caregivers can access it at the touch of a button. It’s all in your health summary,” Bond says. 

Besides basic health information such as blood pressure and medication lists, there’s a practical section for notes and questions for health-care providers. 

“Patients told us they needed this. When you have five different specialists, you forget what you need to ask, whether you’re asking for yourself or on behalf of the person you’re caring for.” 

It’s meant to be collaborative, ease the burden of caregiving and open the lines of communication, she adds. 

“These issues can be hard to talk about. If you’re not talking about it, put it in the Vaultt.” 

While there was always a clear understanding of the reasons behind the app and what would be offered on it, Bond says her focus was too broad in the early days. When she decided to zero in on caregivers who dealt with people with rare diseases and chronic illnesses, she also realized the direct-to-consumer route wasn’t the right path for her either. 

“That was when we started looking at pharmaceutical manufacturers, advocacy groups, long-term care and hospitals. There were a lot of gaps, but we decided to work with pharma because the need was there.” 

Vaultt built an innovative model, driven by what Bond had heard from patients and advocacy groups. 

“Caregivers put in data; they’re very motivated to share because they want a cure. Our technology helps them manage the chaos, but we’re also able to sell this vital data to pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers that are building treatments for patients and we put that money back into the company and share parts of the profit with the organizations we’re working with, including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in the U.S. and the Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. It’s win-win-win,” she says.

“This model is my biggest pride. We’re a highly ethical company and this novel go-to-market strategy is our biggest win over the past year.”  

Family and friends pitch in with funding

It’s a win, but certainly not Vaultt’s first win. Bond’s fervour for the company has been obvious from the get-go and not just among her friends and family, who gave her an impressive $540,000 in her first round of funding. 

“Everyone can see the need, that’s why we got the investment in the early days. I like to think people invested in the idea, in me and in my passion.” 

And while her first pitch in front of angel investors before the pivot to focus on pharmaceuticals didn’t result in investment, her next one did. 

“After that first no, we spent a year doing research and discovery calls. When I pitched again, we got investment from Capital Angel Network (CAN) in Ottawa because they appreciated our focus in pharma and the traction we had,” she says. 

Besides investment, Bond credits the angels from CAN who backed her by sharing their knowledge and their validation. 

“They’re there for us when we’ve had specific problems. One of our investors was the founder of a major security company, another was a vice-president in pharma. These people have incredible experience. It let us know we were on the right path.” 

She was also selected to participate in the first SheBoot pitchfest, a funding bootcamp for women (CAN is a founding partner).

Today, with her team of five, Bond is working on bringing artificial intelligence analysis into the mix and she’s looking forward to continuing to refine processes before making more expansion plans; there’s a lineup of advocacy groups waiting to share Vaultt with their patients. 

“Long term, I see having our solution in the hands of millions of North Americans and people around the world who need support. We have people who want to participate and they’re compensated for doing it and sharing their data. It’s the ethical way to do it.”

With a strong belief in “tech for good,” Bond has also donated one per cent of Vaultt to the Upside Foundation; most of the funds are earmarked for the Alzheimer Society of Canada, an organization close to her heart. 

“I care about empowering people so they have better outcomes. Caring is my love language and I built a platform around it. It’s my opus.” 

Suzanne Grant is an entrepreneur who has built bootstrapped and equity-financed businesses in Canada, Australia and Qatar. Today, she supports business growth and positioning while sharing insights to demystify early-stage fundraising. Grant leads the Capital Angel Network as part-time executive director.

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