Circadiance looks to the crowd

Friday, October 3, 2014

EXPORT, Pa. – When Circadiance wanted to test the idea of creating an all-cloth CPAP mask for infants and children, it didn’t seek out the opinions of a focus group or lean on some deep-pocketed investors. 

Instead, it went straight to the crowd. 

On Sept. 30, it launched an online fundraising campaign on Indiegogo, surpassing its goal of $50,000 on its first morning. At press time, it had raised more than $80,000.

“We are the No. 1 trending crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo,” said David Groll, CEO of Circadiance.“We hope that our position within the crowd funding community translates into much broader appeal and attracts a lot of other people to help us reach a much higher funding level.” 

A pediatric mask is something Groll says is sorely needed in a market focused almost exclusively on adult patients. 

The problem: There aren’t as many pediatric patients who could benefit from the mask, so the economics don’t encourage manufacturers to develop and market a smaller product. Finding capital is a challenge. 

That’s where crowdfunding comes in. 

“Everybody has a lot of empathy for sick babies,” Groll said. “That was one reason I felt the pediatric application was one that might get support in this way.”

This summer, the company created a short video explaining some of the mask-related problems babies can face, including pressure ulcers. Some providers, desperate to help their tiniest patients, have resorted to retooling adult-sized masks to fit smaller faces. 

Circadiance emailed the video to more than 10,000 people, including clinicians and customers who buy and use its products. The company also posted it on Twitter and Facebook, where its SleepWeaver mask has more than 30,000 likes.  

Groll said the response was enough to convince Circadiance to push ahead with the next phase of its campaign—collecting actual pledges from supporters.

“For us, the benefits are really tangible,” he said. “People pledged a lot of money. It’s not enough for us to reach our goal, but it’s a strong indication of interest.”