Episode Summary

Nearly 75% of American adults are either categorized as overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it's common knowledge that fad diets don't work — and can even be harmful to your mental and physical health.

Isabelle Kenyon knew there had to be a better way to lose weight — a healthier, more sustainable way.

So, she considered metabolic health.

"Metabolic systems are these really complex systems, across your body, across your behaviors, across your hormones that are controlling how your body operates," Isabelle says. And those systems affect the way each person gains and loses weight.

Isabelle started building a weight loss program that centered around metabolic health above everything else. Customers work with coaches and doctors to develop healthier habits and behaviors; the one-year program incorporates prescription medication as well.

That program turned into Isabelle's business, Calibrate, which she launched last June.

Fundraising during a pandemic came with its hurdles. Isabelle could fit 14 virtual meetings in a day, from which she heard many "nos." But she set a goal and built a timeline, and in the end she raised $27 million in two seed rounds.

"It is all about resiliency," Isabelle says. "It is all about showing up and it is all about not giving up."

In this episode, Isabelle shares the lessons she learned while fundraising. She talks about what she'd do differently in her next round, and gives tips for meetings in the time of COVID-19 (a ring light for Zoom meetings helps).

How She Raised It

💰 Who: Isabelle Kenyon

💰 Company: Calibrate

💰 Where to find her: LinkedIn | Twitter

💰 Money quote: "No deals ever fell apart over $5 or $5,000 or $500 million. They fell apart over relationships and not wanting to work together."

💰 Noteworthy: Isabelle closed her first fundraising round in just 27 days from the first meeting to the day they signed the term sheet.

Capital Gains

[1:20] A different way to lose weight 👉  Calibrate offers a one-year weight loss program integrating telehealth, lifestyle changes, and metabolic health. Isabelle hopes Calibrate will "change the way the world treats weight."

[4:26] Secret sauce 👉  Everyone's metabolic systems work differently, which is why the program integrates both doctor-prescribed medications and behavioral changes to improve metabolic health.

[7:41] Calibrate's beginnings 👉  Isabelle's mother was the catalyst for Calibrate. When her mother wanted to lose weight, Isabelle learned about doctors and medications focused on weight loss, and she realized she could turn that into a business to help others.

[11:50] Raising money 👉  Isabelle raised money through two seed rounds: the initial round raised $5.1 million before the company's launch, and the Series A round last fall came up with $22.5 million.

[14:27] Stay resilient 👉  Hearing "no" repeatedly from investors can feel demoralizing. Learn from their feedback, and move on to the next meeting.

[19:11] Follow a timeline 👉  Sticking to a timeline can help you stay focused, and it gives investors a sense of when and how they can join your campaign as well.

[22:32] Give yourself enough time 👉  Isabelle found that 30-minute meetings were too rushed, so she started scheduling 45-minute meetings instead. (Fifteen-minute breaks in between Zoom calls can help with bathroom breaks too.)

[26:04] Choose investors wisely 👉  Business relationships are important. Make sure you work with investors who understand and believe in your business.

Top quotes from the episode:

"I think one of the most rewarding things … is the first person who sees an ad for your product and signs up for it. We put up a Google ad and two hours later, someone in upstate New York went to the website spent two minutes and 40 seconds on the website, took out a $1,500 loan for the product, no reviews anywhere on the internet, and signed up. To me, that was the signal that this is going to work."

"We live in this world where investors have such incredible personal brands. They write these newsletters that we read in there on Twitter, and we follow everything that they say, and we care so much about their opinions. And we think they're such amazing thought leaders and idea pickers. And then when they just tell you, 'your idea's terrible ... We can't get there, or we're not going to get there.' And it is some of the most amazing feedback you can get. But it is some of the hardest feedback because you know, [these are people] whose opinions you really come to respect."

"One of my other favorite tips from our fundraise is: We have this amazing clinical advisory board, and instead of making them individually available to investors to diligence with, I actually ran two webinars with them. Investors could join, and it created a really tight timeline on the process."

"When someone says 'no,' just be thankful for the 'no'. Take the 'no' and move on. And I think use the 'no' to make your story better and use the 'no' to anticipate questions that people are gonna have. Just know that statistically 99% of people are going to tell you 'no,' and 1%, they tell you 'yes.' And that's what really, really matters."