community round

CASE STUDY

Raising $5M in 6 hours

How Levels maxed out its Community Round with just one email to its members

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Levels is not only a healthcare startup leading the way in tackling the metabolic health crisis...

...but also increasingly seen as a gold standard in remote and asynchronous work, team culture, and building in public with its community.

The Levels team gets work done across multiple continents with nearly zero meetings, thanks to a company culture that relentlessly protects the team’s capacity for deep work. When meetings do happen, they’re recorded and published on the Levels website, along with investor updates, strategy docs, and memos that let anyone feel like part of the Levels journey.

Founded in late 2019, Levels had more than 20,000 paying customers through their beta and 225,000 people on their waitlist in March 2022 (the time of publishing). In November 2021, they opened up a community round and filled up their original $2.5 million of reservations within just 77 minutes of sending their launch email.

TURNING PASSIONATE MEMBERS INTO INVESTORS

We’ll have Zac Henderson, Head of Legal at Levels, take it from here →

Zac Henderson headshot

What is Levels?

Levels is a general-wellness app that helps people see how food affects their health. Through the use of a sensor called a continuous glucose monitor (or CGM), Levels members can get actual, real-time feedback on the effect of diet and exercise on their bodies—specifically through the body’s glucose response to food.

Most diet and exercise plans are on a very long feedback loop. You hope that if you follow a particular exercise routine and diet for a long period of time—maybe months, maybe years—you'll eventually see the result that you want. By contrast, Levels allows people to see their food and exercise alongside their glucose response in real time.

Poor metabolic health is having a drastic effect on people globally. In the US alone, 88 million American adults are prediabetic, and 84% of those people aren’t aware of it. By 2030, the medical costs & losses in productivity associated with diabetes are expected to exceed $600B.

Levels exists to help solve the metabolic health crisis by empowering members to make data-driven food and exercise choices that meaningfully affect their health and general wellness.

We were founded in July 2019 and raised a $12.5M seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz in November 2020. As of March 2022, we’ve grown to over 20,000 lifetime beta members, over 225,000 people on our waitlist, and now, nearly 1500 new “member-investors” through our first community round with Wefunder.

We raised our community round with Wefunder, not with the goal of closing a funding gap, but with the goal of bringing our members into the company even more.

Zac HendersonHead of Legal at Levels

What community means to Levels

A transformative learning experience is what defines our member community. Our definition of community is constantly evolving, and I can't speak for the entire company—but for me, I see community as our members' relationship with Levels on both the company level and the app level, and our members’ relationships with themselves, unlocked by the app.

People have a real thirst to understand their own bodies better, but it’s difficult and frustrating to do so with a tool as blunt and huge as the internet. Layer on the fact that everyone’s physiology is different, and it becomes nearly impossible to learn what works for you on an individual level.

The Levels app addresses that problem by giving members personalized data that allows them to experiment with and discover the optimal foods and behaviors that work best for them. Because many people haven’t been able to learn this information about their bodies anywhere else, a special relationship forms between Levels and our members.

Our team stays in active dialogue with our members all the time, both in public and in private. We have robust open channels where members can communicate their experiences in the app and ask questions, and we even give them a chance to join our Friday Forum—an internal team meeting where each of us shares our work, achievements, and challenges for the week.

It’s a fantastic way to bring us all together, and a unique one too, given our asynchronous and remote culture. As a part of that Friday Forum, we almost always have a special guest—and lately it's been a real treat to make members, and now member-investors, our special guests of the week.

It's exciting, it's wonderful, and it's a way to keep us as close to the actual member experience as possible—a task that’s at once incredibly important and incredibly difficult to do, the more you're in the weeds of building your company.

We started off with a cap of $2.5 million. The general consensus across our team was, "That $2.5 million will probably fill up, but it will take a while.

Zac HendersonHead of Legal at Levels

Why did people invest?

"Super impressed by the team's execution and how thoughtful Sam is as a CEO"

Jonah Greenberger face

Jonah Greenberger

"I have great respect for your leadership team and functional medicine advisors/investors - Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Casey Means, Dhru Purohit, etc! I’m a new member, and I am loving the app insights and newsletters. I feel very confident in this investment, and I am contemplating investing more."

Jenna Willke face

Jenna Willke

"I've used Levels and learned a lot. I believe you guys can help millions of people live healthier and longer lives"

Dina Burkitbayeva face

Dina Burkitbayeva

Why we decided to raise a community round

We raised our community round with Wefunder, not with the goal of closing a funding gap, but with the goal of bringing our members into the company even more.

We’ve always had people telling us they were interested in investing in Levels, but up until very recently, it was extremely difficult for everyday people to invest in private companies at all. A lot of that is for good reason—there are plenty of companies that will unfortunately take anybody's money and run, so there are important protections that the SEC has put in place.

But so many people, especially nowadays, are well informed and would love the opportunity to invest, yet can’t participate in traditional funding rounds because of the income and accredited-investor requirements of the past. With that legislation shifting as of March 2020 in Regulation Crowdfunding (or Reg CF), everyday people can now invest in a more reliable, safer way. Combined with our member interest, a community round made perfect sense for us.

In total, we had filled up (and oversubscribed) reservations for the maximum $5 million allowed in five and a half hours.

Zac HendersonHead of Legal at Levels

How the community round went

We opened our community round up in “Testing the Waters,” a process through which the SEC allows companies to test investment interest and accept non-binding investment reservations before the fundraising round formally begins.

We started off with a cap of $2.5 million. The general consensus across our team was, "That $2.5 million will probably fill up, but it will take a while."

On the day of our launch, we opened the round by sending one email to just over 14,000 current and former Levels users—not to our broader waitlist, not Twitter, not anywhere else—and the round was full within 77 minutes.

At that point, we reached out to Wefunder and opened it up to the SEC's limit of $5 million. Commitments were flying in, messages were flying in, our support team was doing an incredible job of fielding every question along the way, and our team was communally having our minds blown throughout the process. In total, we had filled up (and oversubscribed) reservations for the maximum $5 million allowed in five and a half hours.

Anyone who raises a community round and onboards hundreds or thousands of new investors is going to get access to an amazing resource of people.

Zac HendersonHead of Legal at Levels

How the community round went

Making our day-to-day work that much more meaningful—that was the most powerful effect of our community round. It's one thing to have a big waitlist and to have people say they're interested in what you're doing. But it's quite another thing to have a whole bunch of people who have actually tried your product say, "Hey, not only was Levels great and enjoyable, but I'm gonna put my own money into this company because I believe in it that much." People's money is their time. And to have someone believe in you enough to take time that they are spending at work and put it into you—to help you grow and develop—is remarkable.

We’re excited to strengthen relationships with our new member-investors. We already robustly communicate with our members, and we’ve made hires based upon reach-outs to our member lists before—so I’m certain that we’ll make hires based upon the contacts we built through our community round. Anyone who raises a Community Round and onboards hundreds or thousands of new investors through crowdfunding is going to get access to an amazing resource of people.

Summary

Levels raised $5 million from 1,441 investors during their Wefunder Community Round.

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Snapshot of Levels' Community Round (source wefunder.com/Levels)

The Raise

  • Started and finished in 1 month
  • 96% of investors were non-accredited
  • Median check size was $1000
  • Raised in conjunction with a $38M Series A led by operator investors and a16z
  • Marketed the round with 1 email to members

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