Chelsey and I are excited to announce that we have raised a $1.2M pre-seed round led by Graham & Walker Venture Fund, to continue building our geospatial software that will power the future of personalized navigation.
From Halloween-Saving Mom to Venture-Backed Founder
Remember back in 2020 when that crowdsourced map of COVID-safe trick or treating spots went viral in Seattle?
I was the mom who built it.
But I’m not only a mom. I’m a former US intelligence analyst, social media researcher, builder of geospatial visualization tools, and a PhD candidate at the University of Washington. I built that map because I was a new mom, stuck at home in the pandemic, sorely missing connection to my local community. When thousands of people added their homes to that map, and hundreds of thousands used it to go trick or treating, I realized how much we all crave that connection with our local environment. But we don’t have the tools to navigate spaces easily and personally.
That’s why I joined forces with my longtime friend Chelsey Roney to solve this problem. Chelsey is a multi-time founder with marketing expertise and two prior exits under her belt. Her business-building acumen, combined with my technical and functional expertise, makes us the perfect team to build toward this vision. We worked together to bring the Proxi MVP to market, earn a spot in the Seattle Techstars program, and land our first investment.
Proxi Makes Mapping for Everyone
Today, Proxi is a free, no-code tool that anyone can use to make custom maps (and I mean anyone - try it yourself!). Local experts and influencers love to use Proxi to create, customize and embed highly interactive maps into their social media accounts, websites, and apps. So instead of posting listicles, they can share their favorite local hangouts on a map, which their followers can use in situ (i.e. when you are walking around downtown, phone in hand). Our bigger vision builds toward that future; creators’ maps power a more personal, spatial way for everyone to move through the world.
Our traction is undeniable. Since we launched an MVP last summer, the number of maps created on Proxi has doubled every month. We’ve worked with incredible creators like Traveling While Black in Seattle, local event coordinators, news organizations (Check out King 5’s Best of Western Washington Map), and foodie bloggers. We are eager to continue to grow alongside these creators using our new funds. Check out our map of some of our favorite Proxi Maps! Scan the QR code or view the embedded map at the bottom of this page.
And of course, you don’t need to be an influencer to build and share a map. Since we started, we’re seeing brides and grooms publishing custom maps for their wedding guests, realtors making maps for their clients, and communities making crowdsourced maps to mark bike racks and other public services.
We are thrilled to share that we more than doubled our goal for our pre-seed raise and have closed $1.2M to help fuel our next set of growth goals. It is even more exciting to have done this prior to the end of Techstars, which gives us the room to get to work as soon as the program ends this week.
The round was led by Graham & Walker with participation from Techstars, Madrona Pioneer Fund, Pack VC, Tacoma Venture Fund, Family Angel Management Fund, and Keeler Investments Group. We are also honored to have a number of revered tech leaders join our ranks as angels, like Sarah Imbach, Ellen Levy, David Grampa, and Bill Bryant.
In the near future, we will increase our presence in the Seattle and Austin metropolitan areas. As we expand the depth of mapped local content in these regions, we will be able to present a compelling set of information to locals and visitors to these areas. With our consumer application, everyone will be able to save and layer these valuable maps to help them make decisions on where to go and what to do, both locally and while on travel. Creators, too, will benefit as we add in monetization opportunities and amplify their brands.
We could not be more excited about the future. If you are interested in following our journey, using Proxi, or joining us (we’re hiring!) please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melinda & Chelsey