Why We’re Thrilled We Don’t Have VC Funding
September 14, 2017
"It would take me days to get a response, but Keith could not only get a response and a status update, but also be asked if he wanted anything else or if there was anything else that Keith needed help with." — Kate Dwyer
Now that everyone’s familiar with Keith Mann, the fake co-founder the real Witchsy’s cofounders Kate Dwyer and Penelope Gazin created to get funding, it’s time to share the Language I/O funding story.
It’s a short story. Language I/O founders Kaarina Kvaavik and Heather Morgan-Shoemaker didn’t get any. They tried. They sat before all-male VCs and dealt with the sexism that followed. They hid pieces of the Language I/O story that they thought would be a disadvantage in the VC space. They lost sleep. Then, they decided to DIY it using the money they’d saved from the other companies they’d started into Language I/O.
It was tough. They lost more sleep—they still lose sleep—they worked all the time as startup co-founders are bound to do, and then they launched. The customers came. Big ones. LinkedIn knocked on the door, then Shutterstock and iRobot. Heather and Kaarina added employees, attended conferences and suddenly, their baby was wasn’t so little anymore.
At first, forging ahead and fending off competitors without VC funding was tough. It was discouraging, particularly when men with no products and no clients got funded and Language I/O didn’t. Some days Kaarina and Heather had a mighty time picking their heads up, turning a cheek and moving forward, but they did because they knew they had a winning model. They continued making financial sacrifices and so did their families. If they failed, their kids face mountains of college loans and a major lifestyle change. But guess what? That was then and this is now.
This year has been outstanding. In the first quarter, we’ve tripled revenue, we’ve doubled staff and we’ve added four giant customers. In regards to funding, we got it—just not from a VC. We went the good old-fashioned bank route and we couldn’t be happier. No VC means no one dictating where and what Language I/O should be or will be doing. We can always put our customers first, which means we can respond to their needs immediately. We can pivot when we need to and our customers love that. If Heather and Kaarina need to fire, they fire. If they need to hire, they hire. So even though Heather and Kaarina thought VCs were the answer to funding, not having any has been a blessing.
Language I/O doesn’t have a man or a Mann, but we understand why Dwyer and Gazin needed both—they wouldn’t have gotten funding without them. We’re saying that not getting VC funding was one of the best things that ever happened to Language I/O. One of the hardest? Sure. But it was a short-term grind. In the long-term it’s just Heather and Kaarina. Two women, no Mann.