Fluo Labs

Early Stage

Seize the Sneeze

Analytics

Raised to Date: Raised: $85,021

Aggregate Commitments $

Platform

StartEngine

Start Date

06/25/2021

Close Date

12/20/2021

Min. Goal

$10,000

Max. Goal

$3,800,000

Min. Investment

$250

Security Type

Equity - Common

Funding Type

RegCF

Series

Seed

Pre-Money Valuation

$12,000,000

Rolling Commitments $

Status

Active

Reporting Date

09/19/2021

Days Remaining

92

% of Min. Goal

850%

% of Max. Goal

2%

Likelihood of Max
unlikely
Avg. Daily Raise

$989

Momentum
cold
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Location

San Marcos, California

Industry

Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

Tech Sector

HealthTech

Distribution Model

B2C

Margin

Medium

Capital Intensity

High

Business Type

Growth

Fluo Labs, with a pre-money valuation of $12 million, is raising crowdfunding on StartEngine. The company is using light-based technology to help allergy sufferers reduce their allergy symptoms without the use of medication. The medical device of Fluo Labs uses light therapy to relieve patients of their allergy symptoms without the use of drugs. Lawrence Johnson founded Fluo Labs in April 2020. The current crowdfunding round has a minimum raise of $10,000 and a maximum raise of $3,800,000, and the funds will target a usability study, a pivotal clinical study, CE certification, and obtaining a de novo FDA grant. Fluo Labs is led by an experienced team and is targeting a huge and growing market of people worldwide suffering from allergies.

Summary Profit and Loss Statement

Most Recent Year Prior Year

Revenue

$0

$0

COGS

$0

$0

Tax

$800

$0

 

 

Net Income

$-220,043

$0

Summary Balance Sheet

Most Recent Year Prior Year

Cash

$1,131

$0

Accounts Receivable

$0

$0

Total Assets

$234,202

$0

Short-Term Debt

$165,505

$0

Long-Term Debt

$68,697

$0

Total Liabilities

$234,202

$0

Financials as of: 06/25/2021
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Analyst Report

Synopsis

For all that modern medical advancements have improved human quality of life, allergies remain a significant and life-altering concern. Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the US, affecting more than 50 million Americans. One of the most common symptoms is inflammation of tissues in the nose. Often referred to as “hay fever,” this symptom isn’t lethal like anaphylaxis, but can reduce quality of life. Its side effects seem similar to the common cold — a runny nose and sneezing, for instance — but its effects are contingent on the presence of an allergen. Once the allergen is removed, the effects wear off. 

Whether their allergens are present some or all of the time, people suffering from allergies can be miserable. In a recent survey, 30% of respondents with allergies reported that their allergies significantly or moderately affected their quality of life. Furthermore, the drugs used to treat allergies seldom completely alleviate symptoms, and they often come with side effects like drowsiness or nausea. These medications also tend to be expensive, especially for sufferers of year-round allergies. Pricey immunotherapy, or allergy shots, act as another solution.

Fluo Labs is bringing a drug-free approach to the mitigation of allergy symptoms. The Fluo device uses therapeutic light to tamp down immune and inflammatory responses. Users simply hold the device up to each nostril and activate it for 12 seconds on each side. Light therapy has been demonstrated to work in treatment for other conditions before, and Fluo’s preliminary results indicate more efficacy than antihistamines. Fluo’s final clinical trial will be underway during the upcoming fall ragweed season, and Fluo plans to submit a De Novo petition to the FDA afterward.

Fluo Labs’s current StartEngine raise has been rated a Deal to Watch by the KingsCrowd investment team.

Price

Fluo is offering common equity at a pre-money valuation of $12 million. This valuation is slightly high in comparison to other early stage startups currently pursuing funding online. Given that Fluo Labs is pre-revenue, there is no way to judge the valuation against a revenue multiple. As a result, the price score for Fluo Labs is low.

Market

The allergy medicine market was valued at $3.6 billion in 2021 and is growing 6.4% annually. The Fluo device can substitute for most of the products in this market, assuming it works well and consistently. Competitors include conventional OTC products like Benadryl and Allegra. It also includes newer competitors with similar solutions to Fluo’s, such as Bionase from Syrolight.

In terms of the raw market opportunity, 7.7% of American adults were diagnosed with allergic rhinitis, a cold-like allergic reaction also known as  “hay fever,” in 2018. If each of these patients purchased a $129 Fluo device, that would be a market capture of almost $2.5 billion. 

Overall, the allergy treatment market is not particularly large, and it is not growing rapidly. Thus, Fluo Labs scores just slightly below average in the market metric.

Team

CEO and founder Lawrence Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in law from the Université de Montréal. Johnson boasts an extensive career in finance and technology. He has worked as an associate partner at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin, a principal at Johnson & Company, and a vice president of general counsel at Globalgate. He stepped into the startup space as executive vice president (VP) and COO at YellowPages.com, which was eventually acquired by telecommunications giant AT&T. He became a director at CLRS Technologies, which developed a heat and light device to treat acne. CLRS was acquired by Solta at the end of his time there. Finally, he founded Rightpond, which was acquired by Morningstar less than two years later. In addition to a history of working with similar companies to Fluo, Johnson has a record of leading firms to exits. He currently serves as senior VP and head of fintech engagement for Morningstar, a financial services company in Chicago. He has other commitments at the NYU Stern Business School and the DePaul Innovation Development Lab. 

President Richard Clement received his MD from University of Virginia. Dr. Clement is a plastic surgeon who has a practice at Foothills Plastic Surgery in Scottsdale. He had residency at Washington University Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He’s also a fellow at the American College of Surgeons. He has decades of experience in medicine and had some involvement at CLRS with Johnson. Clement owns approximately 30% of Fluo Labs and co-owns Allergia, Inc. (Fluo’s parent company) with Johnson. For this reason, his position is being treated as a co-founder for the assessment of this funding round.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Rubin received his MD from Rush Medical College in Chicago. Like Dr. Clement, Dr. Rubin has decades of experience in medicine but has been more specific to pharmaceuticals and biotech. He served as CEO for two startups from 2002 to 2009 but has specialized in managing research and development for pharmaceuticals. His experiences include companies developing competing antihistamines and nasal steroids. He is currently committed in a CMO role to antiaging company BioAge Labs.

CTO Jan Enemerke holds an MBA from La Salle University in Philadelphia. Enemerke boasts decades of experience in leadership of laser and medical device companies. This experience is ideal for leading development of Fluo’s light-based therapy. 

Finally, Chief Strategy Officer Anne-Marie Kovacs holds a bachelor’s of commerce from McGill University. Kovacs has extensive experience with startups, and her experience with Johnson goes back to YellowPages.com. In addition to serving in marketing and strategy roles, she co-founded startups BOOMbox and Pop Box. 

Overall, the Fluo Labs team has ample medical and entrepreneurial expertise. It is especially encouraging that co-founder Lawrence Johnson has multiple exits under his belt. Fluo Labs earns a strong team score as a result.

Differentiators

Fluo Labs is not the first to employ light therapy to combat allergy symptoms, however there are not many direct competitors. From a price perspective, Fluo does not positively distinguish itself. A competing product, Bionase, sells for $40 on Amazon — less than a third of Fluo’s price tag. ROC Private Clinic in the UK also offers a proven red light device. The LloydsPharmacy allergy reliever retails for £22 (about $30).

Fluo has a higher price than its competitors, but the device does appear more aesthetically appealing and portable. In addition, Fluo claims its device only requires 24 seconds of operation, 12 for each nostril. Comparable devices from competitors require three minutes or longer of continuous nose exposure to the light. The reduced treatment time is a positive innovation that sets Fluo Labs ahead of its competitors. Fluo’s device is also patent-protected, increasing the company’s defensible moat. Creating medtech devices is a capital-intensive process. Patents make it even more difficult for another company to replicate Fluo’s results. 

Due to the low number of direct competitors and strong defensibility, Fluo Labs scores very highly in the differentiators metric.

Performance

Fluo Labs is still operating in a pre-clinical development stage. It has conducted a proof-of-concept study and recent in vitro tests with promising results. Fluo was also a finalist at the Ventures Innovation Challenge. In its first seven and a half months of operation, the business has picked up $165,505 in short-term debt and $68,697 in long-term debt. These liabilities aren’t significant for a medtech startup. Furthermore, Fluo Labs has secured $1.49 million in prior fundraising. Balancing its pre-product phase against its low debt and strong prior funding, the company scores around average in the performance metric.

Risks

An investment in Fluo Labs comes with a high risk profile. While light therapy is touted to be safe and compatible with other treatments, Fluo’s product is still undergoing pre-market clinical trials. Once those trials are completed, it will be required to submit to FDA certification. These requirements mean that the device is a long way off from being sold commercially — creating a major time risk for investors. 

Funding and financials are other areas of concern. Medtech startups have to spend significant capital to bring their devices to market, and much of this spending occurs before revenue is generated. Fluo Labs is no different. The company will likely need further funding to support itself as it completes trials and seeks FDA approval. Additionally, there is no way to know how the company’s margins will shape up at this time. The current ratio of debt to income also creates financial risks that investors should be aware of.

Bearish Outlook

Fluo Labs is targeting a moderate-sized market that is not growing rapidly. If the company is unable to convince consumers that its light therapy device is significantly better than the competition’s, it will likely struggle to grow. Perhaps more concerning is the company’s current stage. Fluo Labs is pre-product, which leads to major uncertainty surrounding its go-to-market strategy and timeline. The company must successfully complete its clinical trials and attain FDA approval before it can begin to generate revenue from consumers. It’s hard to justify a $12 million valuation for a company with no product. 

Bullish Outlook

Light therapy is an effective method for treating allergies, and Fluo Labs’ device significantly reduces the time needed for light exposure. There is no major winner in this sector of the allergy treatment market yet. If Fluo Labs’ clinical trials are successful, the company will be well-positioned to become an established name in the space. Furthermore, there is little likelihood of competitors replicating Fluo’s device as it has built an impressive defensive moat through patents. 

The Fluo Labs team brings a strong balance of medical knowledge and business expertise. CEO Johnson has led several companies to exits, including one that provided light-therapy for acne treatment. This experience will likely prove crucial for Fluo as it grows and scales. Under Johnson’s leadership and that of a capable team, an acquisition doesn’t seem impossible. Such an exit would result in a rapid and reasonable return for investors.

Executive Summary

Fluo Labs is providing a light therapy device to treat symptoms of allergic rhinitis, or hay fever. The device uses only specially-balanced light to naturally reduce inflammation in the nose. The treatment takes less than 30 seconds and has been demonstrated to be more effective than antihistamines. Fluo is still in a pre-market stage, planning to conduct a final clinical trial in the fall.

At the company’s early stage, a $12 million valuation is slightly high. The allergy treatment market is also small and growing steadily (but not rapidly). Fluo Labs will need to prove itself against established competitors in order to secure a market niche.

Fluo Labs’ device seems to offer a major advantage over the competition — treatment is significantly shorter, a huge convenience factor for consumers. The device is also portable and aesthetically appealing compared to generic two-pronged nose probes. With patents already secured, Fluo has built an appealing defensive moat for its technology. Fluo’s leadership is well-equipped to lead the business towards an exit. CEO Johnson in particular has led several medical and technology companies to exits, providing investors with an encouraging track record. Therefore, Fluo Labs is a Deal to Watch.

For questions regarding the KingsCrowd staff pick or ratings for this company, please reach out to support@kingscrowd.com.

Analysis written by Benjamin Potts.

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