I first presented Illusio to First Stage Investor subscribers in April 2020. It was interesting timing, to say the least. We were finally realizing just how serious COVID-19 was. It certainly affected Illusio… and not in the best of ways.
But before we get into that, let’s revisit the technology Illusio is introducing and how it could transform the breast implant surgery space.
Right now, 20% of women dislike the results of their breast implant surgery so much that they opt for a second surgery. A major part of that dissatisfaction can be attributed to a lack of clarity around expectations in terms of size, shape, roundness and cleavage. More often than not, only size is discussed — to the exclusion of everything else. And what patients end up with isn’t always what they envisioned.
Historically, breast implant surgery has been a guessing game and a primitive practice. To see what they’d look like post-surgery, patients have to stuff their bras with tissue paper or use other crude measures. Doctor and patient then determine the desired size enhancement from this flawed method.
As for shape, roundness and cleavage, forget it. Surgeons simply don’t take such things into account. As a result, the surgery is very much a hit or miss endeavor.
Even a dumb guy like me gets just how bad this is. It’s telling that such a large number of women opt for a second surgery because they’re not satisfied with the results. It’s as if I went into a barbershop and asked for an inch off, and my barber never asked what cut I wanted. I wouldn’t stand for it.
But women have it much worse. At least I get a do-over when my hair grows out in a month. Women face a more difficult — and expensive — choice.
That’s what makes Illusio’s technology so powerful. Illusio lets surgeons use an augmented reality mirror to show their patients precisely what they’d look like after surgery. With this technology, Illusio is reshaping how doctors and patients approach the breast implant surgery experience.
Even from my limited male perspective, the improvements are obvious. It’s a huge step forward for women to get this accurate picture pre-surgery. And it’s led to booking “conversions” increasing by more than 90%.
When the powerful global marketing agency Mentor Worldwide agreed to partner with Illusio, the company’s future looked even brighter. It was, in many ways, the perfect match. Technology that surgeons would love to have — because it increases their bottom line — with a global marketer that supplies products to one out of every two plastic surgeons worldwide.
Then the pandemic happened.
Mentor’s existing business lines actually grew. As did breast enhancements in general. But Mentor’s new business lines, including Illusio’s offering, suffered. During the pandemic, Mentor was unable to make person-to-person sales calls, which are critical for introducing new products. As a result, it was unable to hit its projected sales numbers.
Yet, because the value proposition remained intact — impactful technology coupled with a powerful global marketing partner — Illusio decided to raise again earlier this year. Its target was $2.5 million. Its $25 million valuation is 80% more than the $15 million it had when I first presented the company in April 2020.
The raise has gone well. Illusio has already raised two-thirds of its target. But at the suggestion of its lead investor, it’s put the raise on hold so it can work on a few things, including:
- Upgrading software to capture more analytical data before and after surgery. For example, the volume that needs to be replaced with a breast implant or fat transfer in order to attain a certain size. As this data set becomes bigger, it will become immensely valuable to doctors and marketers.
- Reinvigorating the Mentor partnership. Illusio is enhancing commission incentives and has a new employee whose sole responsibility is to support Mentor’s salesforce.
- Mapping out spending priorities in R&D, sales and marketing and general administration.
- Aligning spending and hiring over the next year with a long-term scaling strategy.
The pause on the crowdfunding campaign will end in two or three months. And a stronger, more focused Illusio should emerge — a company equipped both for an aggressive short-term revenue push and long-haul growth and sustainability.
Make no mistake. Illusio’s future remains promising… perhaps even more so than before. With no true direct competitors in sight, the market remains Illusio’s for the taking.