Startups

What do you do when you fail to get your company’s funding? Learn from it, BloomCatch’s founder says

BloomCatch founder and CEO Raymond Magee failed to secure the latest round of funding for his company. Here's how he's learning from it, and where he's taking his company next.

BloomCatch Founder and CEO Raymond Magee. (Courtesy photo)
When we last spoke to BloomCatch founder Raymond Magee, he was riding on a bit of a high.

Fresh off of a $50,000 investment from the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC) —then known as CIT — the plant tech app creator was confident his company was on an upswing.

“I love working on this app because I always see how it helps people, even in its baby phase right now,” Magee said at the time. “People aren’t aware of what we’re truly trying to build to scale, but even in its baby phase right now, people send me emails and they’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, I love it.’”

With those funds in his pocket last September, Magee planned to hire his six employees full-time, move the app out of the pre-revenue stage and expand marketing. This was all part of a larger, $500,000 funding round he was hosting on WeFunder.

Then, well, (startup) life happened.

With VIPC as the lead investor, Magee planned to go back to his soft circle of investors to secure additional funding. One had even said it would invest after he secured a lead investor. But, slowly but surely, the funds he was confident he would receive didn’t pan out. He and his team ultimately had to stretch funds meant for two-to-three months into eight months of funding.

“What that allowed us to do wasn’t just…to fail repeatedly, but have bigger experiments around our failure — something we never could have achieved without outside capital,” Magee told Technical.ly.

At that point, Magee was also undergoing a rethink of the company itself. The VIPC funding allowed BloomCatch to do some outreach and research about its product, learning that customers wanted things like plant care information at the plant store while buying. He realized that while there was a market for a very specific type of digital plant care solutions, BloomCatch wasn’t providing them. He and his developer ultimately decided to take a (metaphorical) sledgehammer to the app and rebuild.

“The pivot is basically that [at] some point, the founder needs to come to grips with the fact that whatever idea they had baked up initially about their company, just doesn’t work.”

Despite the past year’s struggles, BloomCatch has found some success. After letting go of Magee’s initial idea, the company introduced the app in New York, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia in addition to DC. The company raised $14,000 on WeFunder. He’s also working with local garden centers in Virginia like Greenstreet Gardens to get the app in front of potential users.

The lessons he learned over the course of the year, though, are still relevant because Magee just endured his latest failure as a founder. Last week, Magee announced that while he had raised $14,000 on WeFunder, it was actually $36,000 away from his goal of $50,000. But when he realized what was happening, he said it actually felt okay – like just another part of the journey.

“The way I naturally think about any part of my journey is I am in, what I always consider, a perpetual state of failure,” Magee said.

Accepting this failure as part of founding, which Magee actually views as a good thing, is how he’s moving forward with BloomCatch. With an extension on the WeFunder campaign until the end of the year, he’s planning to raise the remaining capital and continue growing the company’s revenue. He intends to leave his ego behind, continue listening to his team and failing as necessary — something he hopes all founders embrace and discuss openly.

“[Founders] are a very unique type of person in that, because we’re dreamers, we also have to deal with all the pain and angst of bringing forth this dream — the rejection, the no’s, the failures — and we have to persevere through all that,” Magee said. “No matter where you’re at in your journey, just know: it’s okay to fail.”

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