From Tweet to Tender: Figure1 Used Social Media to Get Investment Cash

Ordinarily, New York-based Union Square Ventures likes to invest in startups like Twitter, Tumblr, Zynga and Kickstarter. But according to the Financial Post, one tweet led to a small Toronto medical image app raising its $4 million series A round.

It was a long shot for Union Square Ventures to invest in Figure1, wrote the Post, which handles $1 billion in funding that typically goes to startups in New York or Silicon Valley.

“’So it was really just via Twitter, which is hilarious,’ said Gregory Levey, chief executive of Figure 1, recounting the initial exchanges with Andy Weissman, a partner at Union Square Ventures, who helped the company set up its $2-million seed round and introduced it to other investors. Earlier supporters, such as Version One Ventures, Rho Canada Ventures and a handful of angels, again pitched in during the series A round,” read the Post’s article.

figure 1

We’ve covered the app extensively, since taking a liking to it when it originally launched. The idea is a catchy one: a kind of Instagram for doctors only, who can share and source opinions of photos of various injuries or medical problems. The app became rather infamous for its library of gruesome images, some the founders revelled in.

Figure1 currently has 140,000 users across North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand and recorded 125 million image views and 70,000 comments.

“They’re doing pretty well. I don’t think anything needs to be fixed,” Weissman told the Post.

SalesForce’s Dan Debow might have put it perfectly to the Toronto newspaper: “What’s beautiful about this was, we had this behaviour — Instagramming, sharing photos — and we already had doctors doing this [sharing photos of particular cases] but not on any approved platform. And these guys figured out how to take advantage of it.”


It was earlier this month when the startup raised its series A round. The company was founded by Joshua Landy. In the summer of 2012 he found that “doctors were already using their smartphones and other devices to text each other pictures, or to look up medical references,” wrote Fortune. Returning to Toronto in 2013, Landy partnered with software developer Richard Penner and former journalist Gregory Levey to launch the platform for medical professionals to share photos safely without compromising the privacy of patients.



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