- 1.How Tazah Technologies raised $6.5 million in pre-seed funding
- 2.How GoZayaan raised their seed funding round
- 3.How AlgoDriven raised their Series A funding round
- 4.How Continuum Ag raised their Seed Funding Round
- 5.How Welcome raised their Seed Funding Round after 149 No’s
- 6.How Pandatron raised their seed funding round
- 7.How Coastr reached their seed funding round
GrowthMentor’s Spyros sat down with Matthew to learn the exciting story of Welcome, who recently raised their seed funding round.
During a trip, Matthew was looking at someone’s recommendation list at Google Maps, Yelp, and TripAdvisor, trying to figure out what was closer to him.
At that moment I realized that all those mapping tools or listing tools are not so different from an old guidebook.
That’s how Welcome was born.
Welcome is a tool that focuses on both personal data and data about your environment. This means the weather, traffic, season, time of day, and popularity. All these different criteria are combined to find the best places, and the best recommendations on where to go.
On top of that, the team has layered a great user interface and great media.
Our vision is taking two steps ahead in the local travel recommendation market.
Being a Product-Driven Founder
As Matthew mentions, “I’m a product-driven founder. Ultimately, what I care about is an incredible product and incredible user experience”.
“I think that is a double edged sword, in the sense that it is an incredible strength.
- I deeply care about the product
- I want to make an amazing consumer experience
- I deeply care about the customers
- and as a team we care about every pixel of our app.
At the same time, that also can be a huge detriment.”
The reason is that when you care about every pixel and you’re trying to move fast – that mentality can get in the way.
“My co-founders, who are engineers, would probably find many things done wrongly in the process. But ultimately, I believe this is part of founding a start-up”.
If I was building a team from scratch today, one of my co-founders would be a community lead.
As he explains, “In the years I’ve been in the startup world, things have shifted in the market, and having someone who could lead your community is very important. Someone who brings the community with them and is already active and travels will have a big traveling community”.
A really great hack in terms of growth and community is finding someone who brings existing community even if they’re not a startup person.
Matthew has been wearing various different hats for his company. He was on support text messages on his weekends, or even at night, he was writing all the emails and doing the PR. On top of that, he was leading the team doing fundraising and of course also the hiring process.
Startup living is having too much to do with too little time.
“But eventually you push on and then you hit that euphoric runner’s high, which is an amazing moment.
To me this is what startups feel like. It’s a ton of pain for that moment of clarity. And then you move on to the next problem where it’s again a ton more pain. And I think that’s startups in my opinion”.
It’s like running a marathon, you’re so exhausted, and you want to quit.
The team has done everything organically. They have been lucky to have people who liked their product, got excited and started writing about it eventually.
A lot of the early growth was just organic word of mouth, along with word of mouth press.
Initially, Matthew and his team were mostly emailing their network. In this way, they managed to bring in around one thousand people from their previous apps, and persuade them to check out their new product.
Their conversion was great, but that was only enough to get some early tests done and see the general image.
Something that definitely helped was Welcome being on Product Hunt.
Launching their previous version on Product Hunt really moved the needle. There were so many people on the app that they ended up appearing in the New York Times completely organically. And that allowed them to grow.
Ultimately, I think that’s the challenge for any early stage startup; to get traction. You have to have something that people care about.
Matthew analyzed his strategy, “Building a product that inherently has social loops that make people want to invite people in, is where we tend to focus our energy. I feel that has the best results in the long term.
I believe that even if we invest a great amount of money in advertising or other channels to reach out to potential users, we’re gonna have a product that people either use, or don’t.”
Ultimately, the most important thing is having a product that people stay in and share. Then we can throw money at marketing and we can build a better community.
Welcome had 10s of 1000s of users. They had lots of press presence and Apple had featured them. They also had a great team, and previous experiences as well.
As Matthew emphasizes, “Travel is a hard space to fundraise in. People are very skeptical of travel or place recommendation startups and this is because it’s a frothy market with a lot of failures in it”.
I had around 150 meetings to try and raise this round and I got 149 negative answers.
It was only the 150th meeting with Accel Ventures who accepted to fund Welcome.
At the 50 first “No”s, I felt like a failure. At 100 “No”s I felt like a leper. After 140 “No”s, I felt like I shouldn’t be in this world anymore.
As he points out, “There’s no magic bullet. Instead, it’s about getting out there and talking to people. It’s constantly iterating on your pitch deck.
My first pitch was way worse than my last pitch. And it’s only gotten better”.
On the other hand, while Matthew was fundraising, he was still managing the team, and building the product and the community. There were weeks and months when the team wasn’t getting paid and they had to work as consultants to train the “keep going” mentality.
My key learning is that fundraising takes all your time. Yet, you still have to run your product.
“You have to keep going but at the same time, you have to keep building your product.
So, hang in there if you are right now in that phase”.
Thanks for the insights Matthew, we look forward to following your journey.