Series Launch: 42 Memory Lane Hail Mary
Welcome to the kick off of Underwire’s Hail Mary series with Lynne Hannah, Founder and CEO of 42 Memory Lane.
Over the coming months, Lynne and her team will document their Facebook and Kickstarter campaigns to fund their first product.
At stake? Oh, just the future of the company.
42 Memory Lane background
You have hard drives, cloud accounts, devices and boxes filled with pictures and videos. Yet there’s no easy way to secure, organize and view them at your command. It’s your family’s legacy. What happens if it vanishes?
Willa, the first digital family album. Willa lassoes every photo, video and document worth saving, makes it all editable into collections and keeps it safe AND viewable at any time in a gorgeous, dual-screen, leather-bound viewer that’s backed up to the cloud.
If only Lynne could get funding.
She’s talked with 187 investors and the world’s largest consumer electronic brands. Most of those convos were with men who said things like, “That’s what a tablet is for” and “Oh, my wife would love this.” Polite pass.
That didn’t stop Lynne.
A taste of her journey:
5+ years of R&D
200+ hundred interviews with the target audience
24 in-person user tests of software features
150 investors contacted (VC/Angel/Strategic)
37 VC pitches
Convos with executives at Sony, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple
2 trips to China
Key software features prototyped
First product model (built by an industrial design firm)
Lynne and team are going direct to the people to prove market viability. First, they’ll launch a Facebook campaign to gather, at a minimum, 13,000 emails. Using Facebook ads, they’ll target moms and brides with ads that lead to a landing page.
Call to action: Coming soon—give us your email to learn more. Classic startup testing tactic.
When, IF, they get enough signatures, they’ll run a crowdsource campaign for Willa. With the expectation for 10% conversion, those initial emails are key for a successful Kickstarter launch.
One hitch, a set budget for the Facebook campaign. See below how touchy Facebook can be. We’ll see how that unfolds.
If this effort fails, Lynne shuts down the company.
Job Assignments. There are four of us, so we divvied up the work into buckets: Facebook Campaign, Kickstarter, Strategy and Assets, Photo-shopping and Editing.
Facebook markets defined
Landing pages completed
Website redesign from light-touch investor facing to consumer facing
Identified creative rewards for our Kickstarter
It’s hard for me to think of anything along this journey as a setback as we’re on steep learning curves, and by definition there will stumbles. But we did miss our original, albeit very optimistic, Facebook Ad launch goal because of the following:
Facebook’s “Are you a bad guy algorithm?” threw us out of Creative Hub in a key meeting when we were reviewing and refining our ads. Our theory was the URL originating from the public library where we hold our meetings (hey, free parking, free meeting rooms) spooked the algorithm. (Maybe public libraries are used by nefarious people??) Literally it took a couple of days to get through their paranoia and back into Creative Hub.
Our website got some honest feedback resulting in a total redo (not really a setback, but time consuming).
Amazon miss-delivered a key technical item for our prototype three times (no delivery, no item, broken item) costing us two weeks.
Highly unusual snow in Seattle and the flu caused havoc for a couple of weeks.
MESSAGING IS FREAKING HARD! This has been the most frustrating for me personally. We know our customers really well. I’ve talked to hundreds. We did a national survey last year. We know every big and nuanced pain point. They’ve told us what they want, and we have the solutions, and still....we struggle with condensing our Landing Page content to the most pertinent points. The landing pages are key, key, key to our success. Botching their effectiveness is a big fear.
It wasn't until I read Richa Prasad’s article on Underwire that it clicked for me what was happening. The way she defined Hot, Warm, and Cold customers helped me understand “why” our messaging wasn't clicking for us. Right around the corner from that insight was a “what” tool from a branding executive who provided us a messaging framework template. We filled that out in minutes and it’s been a beacon of direction for everything from the landing pages to the website. I’m confident we’ll come up with what we need and expect to learn even more when we launch and can test.
Be patient and compassionate with ourselves. Steep learning curves can feel vulnerable. Yes, we know we’re neophytes. Yes, we know we are sometimes reinventing a wheel that the experts use every day. But doing this ourselves is the tradeoff for a high burn rate and stress of a different kind. This team is filled with problem solvers. In the end we’ll get where we need to go.
Dipsea, $5.5 million Series A, Gina Gutierrez, Co-Founder and CEO, and Faye Keegan, Co-Founder and CTO
San Francisco-based developer of an audio platform for sexual wellbeing, raised $5.5 million in funding. Bedrock Capital and Thrive Capital co-led the round. Two female co-founders. (Website)
ELSA, $7 million Series A, Vu Van, Co-Founder and CEO
San Francisco-based mobile app using artificial intelligence and speech recognition technology to help language learners improve their English pronunciation. Investors include Gradient Ventures, Monk’s Hill Ventures and SOSV. Male co-founder. (Website)
Ikonopedia, $2 million Series C, Emily Crane, CEO
Richardson, Texas-based provider of a breast reporting and tracking system. Investors include Texas Women Ventures Capital. Three male co-founders. (Website)
Landit, $13 million Series A, Lisa Skeete Tatum, Co-Founder and CEO
New York-based platform designed to help women and underrepresented groups advance in the workplace. Round led by WeWork. Other investors include New Enterprise Associates, Workday, Valo Ventures, Cue Ball, XF, Female Founders Fund, GingerBread Capital, Uprising, Costanoa Ventures, Yard Ventures, Wavemaker Partners, Connectivity Ventures Fund, and Sofia Fund. African American CEO; two female founders. (Website)
Little Spoon, $7 million Series A, Angela Vranich, Lisa Barnett and Michelle Muller, Co-Founders
New-York based direct-to-consumer baby food company. Investors include Vaultier7, Kairos, Interplay Ventures and SoGal Ventures. Three female co-founders; one male co-founder and CEO. (Website)
Rockets of Awesome, $19.5 million Series C, Rachel Blumenthal, Founder and CEO
New York-based direct to consumer kids apparel. Foot Locker contributed a $12.5 million “minority investment.” The raise included participation from existing backers Angel Capital Management, August Capital, General Catalyst and Forerunner Ventures. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow also previously invested in the company. Single female founder. (Website)
ThirdLove, $55 million Series B, Heidi Zak, Co-Founder and Co-CEO
San Francisco-based direct-to-consumer women’s bra and underwear company. This financing reportedly sets a valuation of $750 million for the six-year-old company, putting the company on track to reach unicorn status when it raises again. The latest round brings total financing for the six-year-old company to $69 million, a somewhat low figure for a company worth three-quarters of a billion dollars. A long list of backers participated in the financing, including consumer-brand focused firm L. Catterton and investment bank Allen & Company. Individual investors in the round included Anne Wojcicki, CEO of genetic testing company 23andMe, Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, and journalist Katie Couric. Male co-founder and co-CEO. (Website)
Zum, $40 million Series C, Ritu Narayan, Founder and CEO
Silicon-Valley based service for shuttling children to school and activities. Led by BMW i Ventures. Other investors include NPG Capital, Spark Capital, Clearvision Ventures, Sequoia and Draper Nexus. Male co-founder. (Website)