Ellen Huerta, former Google analyst and CEO of Mend
MEND IS A SELF-CARE APP DESIGNED TO HELP PEOPLE GET THROUGH HEARTBREAK.
In 2016, I self-funded Mend, and was the sole developer for a long time while I tested out different versions and began to find traction. That bootstrapping, lean start-up mentality took me far, but at a certain point I needed to bring on a team around me, and I knew that would call for institutional funding.
Our first major milestone was closing our US$1 million seed round – it was particularly special because I closed the round alongside Jessica Alba, who was my mentor on Planet of the Apps [Apple’s first original series, in which aspiring app developers pitch to a panel of celebrities].
Our biggest obstacle is quite often ourselves, and it was really important to get out of my head to raise our first US$1 million. I was a first-time founder with no connections to deep pockets, and very little knowledge of the venture capital world, so I spent months simply educating myself on how it all worked through books, blogs and videos on YouTube to gain more confidence to have those conversations.
I have always stayed very closely connected to ‘Menders’ [our users], and their feedback is crucial. It allowed us to build a product that people loved and were willing to pay for. That traction impressed investors and definitely helped us to close the round faster.
When I closed the funding round, seven months after launching the beta version of Mend, I celebrated, but I also felt like it was just the beginning.
Right now, we’re focused on providing the best possible support to Menders who are heartbroken. Our next funding milestone is raising our series-A so that we can continue to innovate, make key hires and reach a broader audience.
It’s not about the path, it’s about the next step. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, break it down.