Why we at Phrasee took on $4m Series A funding
30 August 2018
Hey there, dear internet user! Parry here, CEO and co-founder of Phrasee.
On behalf of my awesome co-founders Dr Neil Yager and Victoria Peppiatt, I’m super stoked to announce that we’ve closed our Series A funding round, infusing our business with $4m cashola.
To let you know what this means, I’m going to follow a grand tradition we started in 2016.
I’m going to interview myself.
*** BEGIN FAKE INTERVIEW ***
Hey Parry, it’s been a couple years! How’s it going?
Hey dude! Great to see you. All good here, just changing the world, one bit of AI-powered marketing copy at a time.
Awesome! So, you just raised $4m. Who’s given you all this money?
This round was led by Albion Capital, a London-based Venture Capital Trust with over a billion pounds under its watch. Both our existing investors, Next15 and Galvanise Capital, followed on in the round.
Um, cool, I guess. You’re my local hero.
Thanks, Parry! May I remark, first off, what a privilege it is to be asked such intelligent questions by such a devilishly handsome interviewer.
Yeah, you’re weird. Stop being weird. Anyways. Why $4m? I thought raising obscene amounts of VC money was what the cool kids do.
It’s true, many companies raise obscene amounts of money. For example: before we signed terms with Albion, another VC approached me offering a >$10m cheque size.
But here’s the thing: we don’t need that much money. I see some companies raising stupid sums like $60m with substandard products, and I ask myself: “What the hell are they spending it on?”
Starting in November 2017, Phrasee became a profitable business. In the “startup” world, this is crazy! What most companies do is raise money, and more money, and more money, and throw good money after bad. They don’t control spending, and they don’t focus on the core fundamentals that make a business solid.
From the start, we’ve taken a different philosophy. We decided to build a business with a solid core – that is, a product that our customers benefit from. We don’t over-spend on frivolity; instead, we treat every dollar in the bank as though it’s our last one.
So the end result is this: we have taken on, by choice, a (relatively) small amount of money, compared to the stupid levels of funding others get. Because we don’t need more. Our business model is solid and we didn’t see the point in taking on more money than we needed.
OK, that makes good sense. So: what are you gonna do with the money?
Well, once our diamond-encrusted unicorn that poops Faberge eggs is installed in our foyer… we’re gonna do… THIS:
Our email subject line product has taken off, and has become the global leader in the space. We’ve recently launched two new products for Facebook, Instagram and push messaging, which are already crushing it.
But, if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. We realised that we have a couple huge opportunities: 1) product development; and 2) global expansion.
So, we are doubling-down on our success. We going hard on R&D, and some of the stuff our team is building will blow your friggin’ mind.
And also: we set up shop in San Francisco in June, and the team we’ve brought on board there are Hey-Now-You’re-All-Stars. Get your game on, go Phrasee!
Huh. So you’re kind of a big deal. You think you’re better than me?
Yes, yes I do. You’re stuck in 2016, dude. I’m up here in 2018.
Jerk. Anyway, what does this mean for Phrasee’s customers?
If you’re a Phrasee customer, then you know that we genuinely give a shit about your business… and also about you. What this funding means is it will allow us to expand our team to ensure we can dedicate more time to you.
But not annoying time – you know, that annoying moment when a sales rep calls you up on the last day of the month because they need to hit target.
That ain’t us. Our goal is to be part of your marketing team. And by having more hands on deck, everyone wins! So that’s cool.
What about the Phrasee team? Because they’re people too… (right?)
Just to clarify: indeed, the Phrasee team is predominantly human (although we’re still not sure about Dr Neil, our Chief Scientist).
Team: I’m not gonna feed you bullshit. Things are going to change. This funding round means two things: 1) we will be expanding, and FAST; and 2) we will become more organised. #1 is no shock. #2 will come with its challenges and its benefits.
The challenges? TBH, I’m not 100% sure what they’ll be at this stage. But, as we grow, we will inevitably need more checks and balances. Now, this isn’t to say that we’re going straight up bureaucratic – you all know how much I hate process and rules. But as we scale, a level of process and transparency is required.
The benefits? You are part of one of the most successful AI companies in the world. In 10 years time, dodgy recruitment agents will go on your LinkedIn profile and see you were in Phrasee in the early days. And they’ll harass you incessantly. Sorry about that.
Neil, Vic and I are super proud of everything you guys have built with us here at Phrasee – and importantly how you live and breathe Phrasee’s values every day.
If you guys ever have any questions or ideas, remember that Phrasee is only as good as the people in the team, and your ideas matter. So share them. Phrasee will be a better company because of your ideas.
Team: give yourselves a pat on the back. No, forget that. Give yourselves a glass of champagne. You deserve it. We love you.
What did your dad have to say about it?
OK, dude, you’re too cool. Anyway, I’m bored. Do you ever shut up?
I do an exclusive interview with you once every two years, and this is the thanks I get? Next time, I’m hiring a professional.
Anyway, my closing thoughts are this:
When we founded Phrasee in 2015, so many people told us it was never going to work. That our idea was far-fetched; that it was too narrow; that it was a pipe dream.
But we persevered. We’ve laughed (a lot). We’ve cried (a little). We’ve drunk (a lot), mostly through celebration, and sometimes through commiseration.
And guess what? Now we’re here. And I’m super stoked for what the future holds
When you combine artificial intelligence… and human language… and $4m in the bank… you get Phrasee.
AND IT’S AWESOME!
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