Mequon-based startup Intelligent Digital Avatars Inc. has launched a new funding round in which it hopes to raise $2 million.
[caption id="attachment_132395" align="alignright" width="365"] iDAvatars' Sophie avatar, which boasts such human characteristics as compassion, intelligence and humor.[/caption]
iDAvatars develops avatars for use in the health care space. The avatars, which are built on IBM’s Watson framework, use advanced technology such as natural language processing and can demonstrate human behaviors such as empathy.
The company’s intelligent digital interface, which patients can interact with online,is called Sophie. She talks to the patient, gathers information and analyzes it, then sends the report to the person’s doctor.
This new funding round is a debt offering of convertible promissory notes and associated warrants. So far, iDAvatars has raised about $409,000 from eight investors in this offering, said Norrie Daroga, founder and chief executive officer. It does not have a specific cap or close date.
About a month ago, iDAvatars added two new products, used to help educate patients with chronic illnesses and to inform patients about advance directives with the avatars. It will use the new funding round mostly to finance marketing and advertising for those new products, Daroga said.
“We built out a bunch of products that really can help with the cost portion of the conversation with health care right now,” Daroga said. “We think the real issue is the cost of health care, not who pays for it.”
The avatar doesn’t take the place of a doctor, but gives the patient additional information a doctor may not have time to provide, he said.
“I don’t think it’s (information) from a doctor versus an avatar, as much as people have questions,” Daroga said. “They don’t have access to a doctor all the time, so they Google. This is content that is curated; the doctor knows it’s accurate. If you happen to be a patient who goes to Ascension, you would get their content. If you go to Aurora, you would get their content.”
iDAvatars now has 10 employees. Because of its recent growth and in anticipation of further hiring, iDAvatars recently moved from its 700-square-foot office to a larger, 3,000-square-foot office in the same Mequon building, Daroga said.
“We now have Anthem and United Healthcare as clients and we perform services for them in nine states,” Daroga said.
Last year, iDAvatars raised about $1.3 million to fund the acquisition of Colorado virtual assistant developer CodeBaby Corp.
iDAvatars had about $1 million in revenue in 2016.
“We’ve got highly customizable and very good quality animation now, so the next step is to continue with the artificial intelligence and natural language processing to understand people better,” Daroga said.