Intersections snags $20M loan to support struggling Voyce health monitor for dogs

Voyce, a Fitbit-like health monitor for dogs, drew rave reviews and plenty of media attention when it was introduced by Virginia-based Intersections ($INTX) at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2014. But the launch of the $299 collar, which monitors vital signs such as heart rate and requires a monthly subscription, was delayed by a year by the FCC, which needed extra time to test and certify the technology.

Now it seems Intersections is struggling to support the market launch of Voyce. On March 21, the company announced it has obtained a $20 million term loan from Crystal Financial. It also closed a private stock placement, raising $7.5 million, according to a press release. The company plans to use as much as $15 million of the loan to support Voyce Pro Wellness Monitoring Program, a new version of its monitoring collar that it introduced last July, it said.

Voyce Pro is marketed directly to veterinarians and is designed to give them a way to remotely monitor dogs under their care. The Voyce collar monitors and records data about vital signs, as well as activity metrics such as calories burned and distance traveled. Veterinarians can tailor health goals to individual dogs, and then receive alerts when any abnormalities occur.

Mark Stephenson--LifeLearn chief corporate development officer and chief veterinarian

"Voyce Pro helps identify and manage acute and chronic health conditions, so that veterinarians can quickly develop customized treatment plans," said Mark Stephenson, chief veterinarian for LifeLearn, a Canadian company that partnered with Intersections to help develop Voyce, in a statement announcing the release of the Pro product.

But it's not clear that either the consumer or veterinary version of Voyce is finding an audience. The cost of the original product has dropped to $199. And Intersections' fourth-quarter earnings results, released a day after the loan announcement, didn't provide any details about how the products are selling. The company, which also markets technology to prevent identity theft, reported that its overall revenues fell 16% year-over-year to $47.4 million. It reported that it swung from a profit of $693,000 in the fourth quarter of 2014 to a net loss of $6 million in the most recent quarter.

Intersections has also undergone a restructuring. The company anticipates it will achieve $19 million in annualized cost savings.

Voyce's performance could determine the fate of the market for pet-health wearables, which also includes FitBark, Whistle GPS and Tractive Motion. And in January, Georgia-based AGL launched Vetrax, a collar attachment that can transmit details about dogs' behavior to their veterinarians wirelessly. There is a host of new apps on the market designed to facilitate easier communication between pet owners and veterinarians, as well, including Vet On Demand and Vet24Seven.

Intersections has struck up a few key partnerships that the company hopes will boost interest in Voyce. Last fall, it partnered with distributor Patterson ($PDCO), which is pitching the Pro version of the product to veterinarians. And it formed a research partnership with Zoetis ($ZTS) that involves using the collar to collect information on pain management in dogs with osteoarthritis.

- here's the release on the debt financing 
- get Intersections' fourth-quarter earnings release here

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