A Grosse Pointe Park-based technology startup has closed on a $425,000 pre-seed funding round, just ahead of beginning a stint at a top accelerator program.
Executives with ToDoolie Inc., which operates out of the Bamboo co-working space in downtown Detroit, will spend the next three months working with the competitive Techstars Chicago accelerator program.
ToDoolie, which launched in Detroit in May, operates a platform connecting homeowners with college students seeking work doing routine chores like raking leaves and cleaning garages.
The three months in Chicago, coupled with the new funding from a mix of local and national venture capital and angel investors, will allow the company to finish developing a mobile application and launch in a new, still undetermined market, said Sergio Rodriguez, the company’s co-founder and CEO.
Additionally, Rodriguez said, the added capital should allow for improved user and customer experiences.
While Rodriguez said that further capital injections are possible in the coming weeks, the recently closed $425,000 round included funding from the newly formed Bamboo Angel Group, Invest Detroit Ventures and others.
Rodriguez told Crain’s that ToDoolie generated about $50,000 in revenue last year and hopes to grow that to around $500,000 this year.
While the company’s founders will spend the duration of the accelerator program in Chicago, Rodriguez said he intends to continue operating the company from Detroit, adding that some remote workers are also possible.
Venture capital activity in Michigan has been on the rise, as Crain’s reported earlier this month, but Rodriguez noted that this level of funding for an early stage company still remains rare in Southeast Detroit’s growing startup economy.
“It’s difficult for pre-seed companies to actually raise a round of investment,” Rodriguez said. “It’s something that doesn’t happen that often in Detroit and when it does happen I don’t think we do a good job … promoting those things. Detroit as a growing startup ecosystem, it’s important to show that it can be done and it’s happening in our community.”
Amanda Lewan, the co-founder and CEO of nascent angel fund and co-working space Bamboo Detroit, echoed a similar sentiment in an interview with Crain’s.
Lewan noted that while venture activity is on the rise, it needs to ramp up further to ensure that founders such as Rodriguez have the resources they need to keep their companies in the region.
“We have a growing venture capital community, but it’s still difficult to raise a seed round,” Lewan said. “So I think it’s a testament to [Rodriguez] that they kept growing and learning and testing their business model. It takes time to grow and scale, so we’re excited to see where their next evolution comes [from].”