Dialogue Goes Public: Our Journey from Series A to IPO
Another great milestone accomplished by Cherif, Anna, Alexis and the whole Dialogue team — Congratulations on the IPO from all of us at White Star Capital!
Dialogue went public today at a market capitalization reaching C$1B (US$798m) which represents a 13x multiple for White Star on our first investment in their Series A three years ago. We wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on our key learnings from what has been an exciting journey so far!
Dialogue Through The Numbers
We are proud of how far Dialogue has come since our initial investment in early 2018, when the Company was just starting to bring in meaningful revenues and had 35 employees on staff. The financial figures below in CAD highlight the exceptional work of Dialogue’s 250 corporate employees and its medical team of over 500 practitioners:
Our Journey with Dialogue
In 2018, telehealth was evolving rapidly in Europe and the US, but was only starting to emerge in Canada, with 1% of primary care interactions being facilitated through digital platforms. Seeing the impact that startups like Babylon, Kry, Doctolib and Teladoc were making in their markets, we were looking for a company that was positioning itself to bring telehealth to Canada. We were fortunate to be introduced to Dialogue through our network in Canada and our friends at Diagram Ventures. Furthermore, we’d known Cherif Habib, CEO of Dialogue, for many years prior to his co-founding the company.
As we learned more about Dialogue, we became convinced that co-founders Cherif, Anna and Alexis had the right vision. But what ultimately sold us on the company stemmed from our discussions with regional healthcare leaders and global investors, in addition to the support from our colleagues based in London, New York and Paris. Collectively, this unique perspective validated our thesis and gave us the conviction to lead Dialogue’s oversubscribed C$12m Series A round with participation from HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, Portag3, National Bank, and Walter Financial.
Back in 2018, the thesis that drove our investment in Dialogue’s Series A was rooted in three main pillars:
- Increasing telehealth penetration rate in Canada — adoption rate was far behind the US and many countries in Europe for a number of reasons, including the need for systematic acceptance for telehealth
- Strength of the B2B employee benefit model for markets with universal healthcare systems
- AI-driven technology (human-in-the-loop) supporting doctors in optimizing response times and triaging patients using algorithms and chatbots.
By 2019, Dialogue’s business was rapidly growing, reaching 200,000 members across all provinces and over 400 enterprise clients. This fast growth and outstanding ability to execute made it easy for us to double our investment in Dialogue’s $40m Series B round in June 2019, which was led by CDPQ.
Some of the Company’s key success factors include:
- Impressive execution of the team’s go-to-market strategy as well as their ability to attract senior business executive talent following the Series B
- Engaging value proposition and company mission attracted a multidisciplinary team of over 500 care providers across 12 clinical specialties
- A defensive moat thanks to Dialogue becoming the only Integrated B2B Virtual Care Platform in Canada offering primary care, mental health and EAP, through convenience and flexibility for healthcare service providers
- One simple access point for members and users with integrated administration tools for B2B customers
- Constant focus on its proprietary and scalable AI-enabled tech stack and cloud infrastructure designed to support a large, growing and horizontally-integrated platform
- Supplementing strong organic growth with strategic acquisition opportunities to enter new geographies (Argumed in Germany), complement its product offering (Optima Global Health), or add to its tech platform capabilities (DXA)
COVID-19 Effects on The Adoption of Telehealth
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of telehealth, with half of Canadians indicating that the pandemic has made it more difficult to access healthcare services, an estimated 70% of Canadians believe that virtual healthcare is the future. This signals a positive consumer mindset shift that is necessary to support enterprise spending on telehealth services.
In a post-Series A interview with the CVCA, we commented on Dialogue’s exit potential as a public company, a timeline that was accelerated due to increased telehealth adoption throughout the pandemic. Dialogue’s telehealth offering went from being a nice perk that employers offered employees to increase attraction and retention to a must-have in this era of remote working.
The far-ranging impacts of COVID-19 have only strengthened our conviction that our global, thesis-driven investment process is central to identifying leading companies that will not just be able to survive, but thrive under tough economic and social challenges. In total, we invested C$17m (US$13m) or 7% of White Star Capital Fund II in Dialogue between Series A and Series B+, resulting in a multiple of 13x on our initial Series A investment. To this day, we remain the second largest shareholder.
Congratulations to Cherif, Anna, and Alexis on this amazing milestone, one not just for Dialogue, but for the Canadian healthcare ecosystem. Thank you for having us as a partner in your growth story and we look forward to all the things Dialogue will accomplish in the future! This is only the beginning of another phase of growth and we are delighted to remain actively involved on the Board of Directors of the company.
Check out White Star’s 2020 deep dive on the global digital health sector landscape, where we outline the trends we see across the industry, including virtual care and mobile health. At White Star, we are interested in businesses democratizing access to healthcare as well as the application of AI/ML in the digital health sector. If you’d like to connect more on this topic, please reach out to email@example.com.