Spren closes $11.3 million in seed capital to launch camera-enabled biomarker platform
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Jason Moore
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Behind the Scenes of Our $11 Million Dollar Seed Funding

Earlier today we announced a significant milestone in our company: Spren, our B2B enterprise platform, is coming out of stealth mode with $11M in seed funding to support our growth.

We couldn't be more excited for what’s ahead and are excited to give you behind the scenes insight into how this all came about. 

Why this capital & why now? 

As captured in our press release, we’ve raised $11.3M in seed funding to date from some truly special investors, including two-time Superbowl Champion Eli Manning, MLB Executive Theo Epstein, Drive by DraftKings, and Boston Seed, among several notable others. 

Without their support, it would have been extremely difficult to bring our ambitious vision to reality – creating a device-agnostic, universally accessible platform serving deep insights into the human body.

Press releases only give a sliver of the story however — they show the champion on the podium, but not the challenges they had to overcome to get there and the ups and downs and twists along the way. We’d love to share some of that backstory with you today. Starting with… Why’d we raise venture capital funding now?

As some of you may already be aware, this seed funding will be used to bring our hardware agnostic, camera-enabled digital biomarker platform called Spren out of stealth mode. With the power of Spren, your smartphone becomes a real-time biomarker sensor, built on over a decade of research across physiology and behavioral science. Our mission is to make meaningful insights from the body accessible to more people and this funding will help us realize this mission faster.

How it all got started

 

Before we talk about the fundraising, I wanted to give a shout out to Vivek Menon, my co-founder and pitch buddy.  This picture was taken in Los Angeles during a trip to pitch a bunch of investors in Los Angeles.  

The fundraise would not have been possible without his partnership.  I’m grateful for his friendship and support. Thank you, Vivek! More about how we met in a future post, but for now, let’s just say there were several layers of family approval on both sides before we were allowed to join forces! 

Core learnings & highlights from the process 

Raising our most recent seed round went much quicker than expected – 95% of our funds were acquired in less than 90 days. By comparison, our pre-seed round in 2020 took over 18 months to raise a few hundred thousand. 

Thinking back on what changed between then and now, I realize I didn’t actually understand what a startup was back then, nor how to tell stories, nor how to convey the true market opportunity, nor how to match it with a defensible and scalable business model, etc.

Hundreds of pitches and a couple years later, a lot has changed.  

We started to view pitching as an accelerated learning opportunity, equally as valuable as the money we were trying to raise.

Great advice from a friend in the industry: “Go into every pitch seeking to learn what you can take away for the next pitch.” Once we adopted this mindset, focusing on what we could learn and how we could improve, we started to see massive progress.  

It wasn’t long before we started to see patterns.  Good VCs listen, closely and attentively, and have an appreciation of the founder experience. They send useful feedback, even when they take a pass. Inexperienced investors, on the other hand, try to be the smartest folks in the room. They use ‘I’ instead of ‘We,’ are often overscheduled, frantic, and don’t actually listen to the pitch.”

The learning curve is always steep, but we’ve had the good fortune of incredibly supportive investors who believed in our team even when the business model was nascent.  Even celebrities, a two-time Superbowl champion quarterback and an NBA champion point guard, came into the conversation attentive, organized, and with the clear intent to help.

Everything we learned from the pre-seed fundraising rounds helped us recognize that going into our seed round, we needed to have a clear vision for commercialization, which helped us capture attention, move quickly, and acquire funding even in a time when the broader market was just beginning to “tank.” 

What about HRV and recovery during fundraising?

There have been three major life events over the past decade that have caused my HRV to plummet:

  1. A spinal injury from a car accident
  2. Having a human baby
  3. Fundraising 

One could argue that fundraising is just as intense as having a major injury or your first child 🤔 (but we’ll leave it up to you to decide!) 

During a fundraise you can infinitely cycle through potential questions, ways to improve the story, try to guess what potential investors might ask next. There’s no one “right” way to pitch, but there’s almost always a better way, so my brain kept optimizing and optimizing until we started hearing yesses. 

It’s a thrilling process, but admittedly, fundraising takes a toll.  At night, I was tired and wired and found it really hard to wind down. I even developed a catchphrase to describe my sleep during some of those nights: “The baby wakes me up. The business keeps me up.”

Some things that helped quiet my mind were: Listening to epic fantasy novels before bed, using a noise machine, ear plugs and listening to sleep stories if I woke up and needed help falling back to sleep.

Vivek Menon, my co-founder had a similar experience.  He too found fundraising to be mentally draining.  What were Vivek’s tips for decompressing?  His words: “Interests that are level 99 nerdy, PBS Spacetime”. 

“Hey, It’s not sexy but it works.” 

We both took much needed vacations immediately after securing the round and finalizing all the paperwork. As tempting as it is to immediately hit the ground running, we both highly recommend taking a moment to reset your feet after a hard push.

What’s next for Spren? 

We couldn't be more excited for what’s ahead. 

Spren is already being integrated by top tier partners across health, wellness, and fitness such as Fitbod, Make Visible, FORTË, and Final Surge, and many others soon to be announced. 

We plan to explore new use cases for our camera-enabled biomarker technology, such as biofeedback for meditation and breathwork, and digital health assessments for industries including insurtech and employee wellness.  If you have ideas of your own, don’t hesitate to reach out.  

There’s so much more to come – you can bet we’ll be sharing progress and community stories of how Spren has helped change lives as those stories continue to unfold.

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