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Announcing our Pre-Seed Round of Funding

January 16, 2021

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We could not be more excited to finally announce our pre-seed round of funding — a round we closed last spring but delayed the announcement. Raising capital in the middle of a global pandemic was particularly challenging, but also exciting. Market conditions forced a lot of tough questions but have also presented several opportunities for learning. These learnings have influenced our direction for the company, and we feel stronger than ever as we push Haekka forward.

The Funding Path

Funding for Haekka was a long road. When we initially started outreach last February, we quickly realized a pivot was required. After listening to market feedback we knew that changing our direction in the middle of investor conversations was risky. However, it was a risk we had to take. When the market is telling you where to go, you need to go there. As a result, we put many of the fundraising conversations on hold until we had a better understanding of what exactly we were building.

Fundraising didn’t pick back up in earnest until the middle of March. Unfortunately, this coincided with COVID-19 and one of the worst economic downturns in decades. Fortunately for us, Haekka is not our first startup. I co-founded and raised $13M over three rounds for my previous company. Because of that experience we had a slight built-in advantage.

At the same time, COVID-19 is entirely uncharted waters, so we honestly didn’t know what to expect when we reengaged with investors. One additional wrench in our plan was that we wanted to build Haekka differently. Our goal is to operate the business by looking at talent in both rural locations throughout Colorado (basically anywhere that isn’t a tier 1, 2, or 3 city), as well as in remote locations all over the world. As a tech company, this is too risky for most investors, even with the shift to remote work. We knew the type of culture we wanted to build, and we knew we needed to raise from investors that shared this same mindset.

How It Happened

Of course, meeting with investors in person was not an option. Given that hard constraint, building a relationship with investors over Zoom was new for us and our investors. Through various connections and dot-connecting, we were fortunate enough to find a pre-seed fund that had conviction about our team and the market. They took a chance on us, despite never having met us in person, and agreed to fund half of the round.

Fundraising is just like selling or partnering. It’s about building a relationship. It should come as no surprise then that the hardest part about fundraising during quarantine and a global pandemic is building a relationship with your future investors. This is much harder for early-stage companies. With later stage companies, there are metrics, spreadsheets, models, and even existing investors that help new investors gauge risk. These later-stage investments are largely based on the momentum of the business. For a new company like Haekka, one that is both pre-product and pre-revenue, the investment is all about the team and the market. To sell a new investor on taking this type of risk, especially during an economic downturn, you need to have an incredible team and a ripe market. We had both.

When all was said and done, we received financial commitments after just two Zoom meetings and a handful of phone calls.

Why We Were Successful

The word conviction keeps coming back as I think through how we completed the round. Our investors believed in what we were doing and they believed, despite being so early, that we would eventually figure it out.

To fill out the remainder of the round we received a boost from another investor that was connected with our pre-seed investors. We also pulled investments from other angels we previously had met in person that believed in the team and the opportunity.

The success of our funding round was also a product of the times. Haekka fits with the new post-COVID world order.

  • Haekka is built for modern work and capitalizes on trends related to remote work and modern SaaS tools for communication.
  • One of our core value propositions is helping companies mature their privacy program through building a culture of security. This aligns with the increasing focus on compliance across the globe.
  • Our team is remote by design, meaning there is no re-organizing for social quarantine. Haekka’s founding team has worked remotely for the last 7 years.
  • Building on top of modern work tools like Slack is a real market, with an increasing number of proof points.
  • Training platforms and tools are growing and in high demand during COVID

We were convinced on every point above even before COVID hit. The pandemic has just accelerated our thinking while also proving that the market trends are there.

How COVID Shaped Haekka

Both the process of raising money as well as the market conditions have shaped our culture in several important ways.

  1. Runway. We initially planned for our pre-seed to carry us 15-18 months. Our new plan gives us a runway of over 24 months as we observe the economy.
  2. Survival. As Paul Graham has written, you need to survive at all costs. That post was written during the challenging economic times of 2008. At Haekka, we are committed to finding and scaling product-market fit. We will survive and find the path to that fit.
  3. Frugality. We pay close attention to our balance sheet — justifying every expense, large and small. 
  4. Revenue. We have a focus on revenue from the start. The tools we are building deliver value to customers and we earn revenue in exchange for that value. Revenue extends runway, fuels growth, and provides leverage through optionality.

What’s Next?

We’re operating Haekka in stages. The pre-seed stage is first. We have very specific goals for this round of funding. Tactically we align our shorter-term actionable quarterly goals with the longer-term pre-seed goals listed below.

  1. Deliver critical mass of platform features for general availability release
  2. Align a consistent vision and brand
  3. Acquire customers across > 3 verticals

We’re excited about the future and hope you’ll follow along as we progress. If you’re interested in learning about what Haekka has to offer, we encourage you to reach out to us via email, or by subscribing to updates.

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