First Stage Investor

Invest in a Startup So Good, a Johnson & Johnson Subsidiary Is Partnering With It

Invest in a Startup So Good, a Johnson & Johnson Subsidiary Is Partnering With It
By Andy Gordon
Date April 2, 2020

I’m recommending you invest in this exceptional startup knowing you have other, more immediate concerns. But I also know that the novel coronavirus will fade into the background at some point, allowing you to better focus on your other needs.

This is not the time to ignore those other needs. I understand that’s easier said than done. But with the stock market tanking, safeguarding your financial security is more important than ever. And one of the few investable assets NOT losing value these days is startups.

That’s because startup shares are illiquid. Investors can’t sell them even if they wanted to. This illiquidity is usually seen as a disadvantage. But I’ve always considered it a good thing. Panic-selling is never good.

If you want to enhance your long-term financial well-being, keep investing in high-quality startups, such as the one I’m about to show you.

But before you invest, consider these words of advice related to tending to your financial health in these extraordinarily challenging times.

Just because your public stock portfolio has lost a big chunk of its value, please refrain from cashing out now to buy startup shares (or any other investable asset). The time for selling is past. Selling low is not how smart investors behave, no matter the circumstances. Instead, use your cash reserves to buy startup shares.

I’ll make it very simple for you. If you have $700 in spare cash, you should absolutely invest in Illusio. There’s no such thing as a “sure bet” investment in anything. But this company comes as close to a sure bet as you’ll see in an early-stage opportunity.

But if you don’t have the money, don’t invest. And don’t agonize over it. It’s not the end of the world. We all have enough to worry about as it is. The most important thing is for you to get through the next few months healthy and financially intact.

Everything else takes a lower priority.

With that said, even if you can’t invest, I’d still like you to read on and learn about Illusio. If nothing else, it’s a perfect illustration of what a great investment opportunity looks like.

The size of the market it addresses in the U.S. alone is huge – but outmoded and in desperate need of an upgrade.

Illusio has nailed down monetizing its one-of-a-kind technology. Its product is 98% ready to roll out… and at a very fair price. It boasts two visionary founders, one with two decades of business experience and the other with two decades working in various healthcare posts, leading the company.

And these unusual times have added one more factor: pent-up demand. The company will be launching its product at about the same time the pandemic will be winding down in this country and others. It will likely be launching as demand surges for the elective surgery it’s reinventing. It may be pure serendipity. But the growth boost will be very real. Illusio’s product launch couldn’t be better timed.

Plastic Surgery Reinvented

Illusio is reshaping how doctors and patients approach the breast implant surgery experience. Even from my limited male perspective, the improvements are obvious.

Right now, breast implants have been a cross-your-fingers, hope-for-the-best guessing game. To see what they’d look like post-surgery, patients stuff their bras with tissue paper or take other crude measures. Doctor and patient would arrive at the size desired from this or similarly crude measures.

As for shape, roundness and cleavage, surgeons try to take these things into account. But it’s very much of a hit-or-miss endeavor. It’s telling that 20% of women dislike the results of their plastic surgery so much that they opt for a second surgery.

This is the rather primitive state of breast implant surgery. Illusio is changing all of that.

Women visiting plastic surgeons using Illusio’s technology leave the doctor’s office with a very precise idea of what they will look like post-surgery.

First, 3D cameras scan the patient. Then, using augmented reality, the patient sees her own body on a full-length mirror-like screen. The only generic image in the virtual mirror is a 3D breast rendering, which the doctor then manipulates to show her in real time, from different angles, how she’d look with different breast sizes and shapes. Through trial and error, the doctor makes the changes the patient wants.

This makes all the difference in the world. Surgeons report that surgery booking “conversions” increase by more than 90% using Illusio’s breast simulation system.

It’s a big win for both doctors and patients. Illusio’s technology dramatically increases sales and improves patient satisfaction.

And plastic surgeons who use Illusio’s product need just two extra bookings a year to cover the cost of buying the service.

Anything more than two is gravy! And with surgery bookings almost doubling, there’s no doubt doctors will be highly motivated to acquire and keep using Illusio’s breast simulation technology.

And my four M’s (market, metrics, monetization and management team) indicate a very high upside for Illusio. Let’s see why…

Large Global Market Ripe for Disruption

Last year, Americans opted for more than 1 million cosmetic surgeries. Worldwide, more than 6 million took place. And breast augmentation accounted for 314,000 of those surgeries. Breast and breast reconstruction surgeries are growing at a compound rate of more than 10% a year in the U.S. The market is expected to hit $4.6 billion by 2025.

Top U.S. Cosmetic Surgery Procedures

Before the novel coronavirus pandemic, Illusio was projecting revenue for this year at an ultra-conservative $3 million to $5 million. This amounts to a fractional share of the market, about 0.1%. For next year, the company was projecting revenue of $8 million to $12 million – which would have been very doable given the overall size of the market. But given the pandemic, I’d assume revenue generation will be delayed by six to 10 months.

One Magnificent Metric Delivers Big Upside

Given its pre-revenue stage, Illusio has no hard metrics. But it has one of the most impactful qualitative pre-revenue metrics there is in the form of a powerful partner. It has formed a partnership with the biggest plastic surgery supplier, Mentor Worldwide. Mentor supplies products to 1 out of every 2 plastic surgeons worldwide.

Mentor is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson – a company with a global brand and highly respected reputation. The fact that Johnson & Johnson has entered into a partnership with Illusio speaks volumes to the disruptiveness and huge sales potential of Illusio’s technology.

Mentor has the power to put Illusio’s product on the fast track in the U.S. and globally. With its large global sales force, Mentor sells to 85% of surgeons in the U.S. And it has access to more than 6,000 domestic surgery centers in the U.S.

Mentor has committed to a three-year agreement to place Illusio’s breast implant simulation systems in U.S. plastic surgeons’ offices as well as those overseas – including ones in the U.K., Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Backed by Mentor’s powerful sales network, Illusio is punching way above its weight. I’ve seen plenty of startups bag big partners. But this partnership tops those by a mile. Mentor’s firepower is real and proven. Illusio is not a small fish in a big pond trying to survive among the sharks. Illusio has one of the biggest sharks clearing a path toward significant monetization.

Plastic Surgery Will Continue to Grow Post-Coronavirus

Monetization essentially means a product can scale at a reasonable price point. Everything you’ve read up to now points to monetization being no problem.

Right now, though, Illusio – along with thousands of other companies – basically has to wait for the coronavirus to run its course and recede into the background.

But there’s no reason to think that plastic surgeries won’t come back in a post-coronavirus world at roughly the same pace as the economy recovers. In fact, as I’ve already mentioned, it could outpace economic recovery thanks to pent-up demand.

Founders Who Think – and Act – Big

By grabbing the ideal powerful partner, Illusio’s founders have put the company in a position to win big. What more can you ask? CEO Ethan Winner has more than 20 years of experience in major global markets. He has represented dozens of Fortune 500 companies in U.S. and overseas markets. Illusio’s other founder, Kyle Song, serves as chief medical officer. He’s the CEO of California-based South Coast Plastic Surgery and has shared his research and ideas on best practices at several prestigious conferences.

They’ve made amazing progress over the past three years on a bare-bones budget. They’ve put the company in a terrific position to upend the lucrative breast implant surgery space. They have no serious competition. Their technology is head and shoulders superior to legacy companies and wannabe startups alike. The founders are a big reason for that.

How to Invest

Investing on Equifund

Illusio is raising up to $1.07 million on Equifund. If you don’t already have an Equifund account, you’ll need to sign up for one. Once you verify your account and are logged in to Equifund, visit the Illusio deal page. Then click the orange button that says “Invest Now.” Enter the amount you want to invest, starting as low as $700, and proceed through the required steps. Be sure your investment is confirmed, then you’re good to go.


This opportunity, like all early-stage investments, is risky. Early-stage investments often fail. The investment you’re making is NOT liquid. Expect to hold your position for five to 10 years. An earlier exit is always possible but should not be expected.

All that said, I believe Illusio offers an attractive risk-reward ratio.

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