Many in the start-up and venture capital (VC) spaces know that women are almost always underrepresented, so it’s a positive and powerful signal when we see a story like this: two women-led venture funds co-leading a Seed fundraising round for a women-led technology company. It’s a good news story for women and diversity in the ecosystem, and one that shouldn’t come as a surprise given that women founders tend to outperform their male counterparts by 63 per cent.
Haloo,The Forge client, is co-founded by Julie MacDonell, a former senior-level trademark and intellectual property (IP) lawyer, and Sarah Ruest, an accomplished senior-level data engineer, is the first end-to-end solution for companies seeking brand protection.
“Every business, big or small, deserves access to the same protections and tools,” says MacDonell. “Prior to Haloo, over the course of my career practicing trademark and IP law, I witnessed countless entrepreneurs lose their businesses to trademark infringement. Many of these were small business entrepreneurs who had invested their life savings and were building a legacy to leave to their children. I couldn’t watch them lose their businesses anymore.”
Haloo’s initial focus was on helping Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) protect their brands, but the company quickly saw the benefit of their powerful AI in application to large enterprises as a Software As A Service (SaaS). They weren’t wrong—large companies were very interested in using it. Now Haloo serves both the SaaS enterprise market and the SMB market through large partnerships with domain registrars.
Venture capitalists quickly took notice of Haloo’s strong market entry and disruptive technology, and the startup was able to secure many notable investors this round, including Prosus, Inovia, and prominent Web3-focused investors Hashed VC, 2 Punks Capital, along with well-known angels, the likes of Ethan Song (co-founder of Frank and Oak).
Haloo’s Seed round was co-led by The W Fund (Co-founder Kate Brodock) and The51 (Co-founder Shelley Kuipers), two women-led VC funds focused on investing in woman-identifying and gender-diverse founders. Both firms had previously used Haloo’s trademarking services, and The W Fund was also an earlier investor in Haloo and investing follow-on into the current round.
“Shelley and I have a good relationship,” shares Brodock. “Both our funds have a similar investment focus and are driven to see more capital in the hands of women and underrepresented founders. Haloo’s purpose-driven approach to democratizing the trademarking process is also in alignment with both funds’ values, and the opportunities for Haloo’s scalability into markets like NFTs are substantial. They were definitely an attractive investment for multiple reasons.”
“The51 is excited to co-lead with The W Fund,” says Kuipers. “Given the dismal statistics around women in VC and women founders who receive VC, it’s rare to have two women-led funds working together to invest in a woman-identifying founder. Julie’s vision and her team are very compelling being a woman-led tech team with over 50 per cent women engineers and developers, we leapt at the chance to be an investor and champion of Haloo’s global opportunity.”
“At Haloo, we believe in diversity at every level,” says MacDonell. “This includes with our investment partners. We want to ensure we’ve got a breadth of perspectives getting in with us on the ground floor to drive and influence our brand values and the way we behave in the world. Every action we take within Haloo is working toward creating a more equitable working world.”
Subsequent to this Seed round, Haloo will use the injection of capital to fuel growth in the US and gain further traction with their enterprise SaaS. They also plan to further develop their work in a new and significant growth opportunity associated with IP infringement across NTF marketplaces. With increasing counterfeit in NFTs (OpenSea alone is seeing upwards of 80 per cent) and brands seeking to protect their IP in NFT markets, the opportunity to further help brands protect their assets is huge.
North America’s largest brands are quickly signing on to the enterprise SaaS product, while at the same time Haloo is teaming up with important partners to bring the technology to the SMB market. Some of these partnerships include the world’s largest domain registrars, eCommerce platforms and NFT marketplaces.
With $2.3M USD of funding secured and large brands on enterprise SaaS trials, the future is bright for Haloo.