There have been many “firsts” for Graham & Walker since our fund started investing in late 2020. Our own first close – $3.3M in October 2020. Our first investment – Leg Up’s pre-seed round led by the talented Jessica Eggert. Our first exit – Makara Digital’s recent acquisition by the growing fintech powerhouse Betterment.
Today we’re announcing a momentous “first”: the first time we lead a round. I’m honored to share the news of our investment in Proxi.co’s $1.2M pre-seed round with participation from Techstars, Madrona Pioneer Fund, Pack VC, Tacoma Venture Fund, Family Angel Management Fund, and Keeler Investments Group.
When I first met cofounders Melinda Haughey and Chelsey Roney, it was immediately evident that they were on to something huge – their tech is a true VC opportunity with uncapped upside potential. Melinda’s background in UX and building geospatial tools, complimented by Chelsey’s entrepreneurial know-how, makes them a perfect team to build it.
The three of us bonded over the particular challenges and joys of running a startup while raising toddlers. As I got to know them, I witnessed first hand how they embody values that I look for in entrepreneurs. Melinda and Chelsey are hugely ambitious, but never ruthless. They believe in substance over hype. They play the long game and take the high road. And they lead with intention, inclusion, and passion.
Proxi is our 24th investment, but our first time leading. Not for lack of appetite, opportunity or conviction, but for lack of bandwidth to truly live up to the job of a lead. I hope and intend for this to change in the future, particularly when we raise fund 2 and beyond. For now, we’ll continue to participate in rounds led by VCs we trust and admire, and will lead rounds very selectively. Because it takes a lot if you want to do it right.
Proxi’s round came together beautifully. We co-invested with many of our own LPs – some of the most experienced, networked and value adding investors in the space – folks like Bill Bryant, Sarah Imbach, Ellen Levy, David Grampa and Shelley Whelan’s Keeler Investment Group. We went from term sheet to oversubscribed in just over a week, with all funds wired 3 days later, so the team could get to work straight away, 3 weeks before Techstars’ demo day. And just over 2 weeks later, you’re reading about Proxi’s pre-seed round announcement with an in-depth feature on Geekwire.
Most entrepreneurs reading this – particularly those in our community – know first hand that this isn’t normally how a round goes for a tech company led by two women. Most of us struggle for months, if not years, to raise capital the first time around. Most of us fail. A round like this is extremely rare for people like us.
One of our goals as Graham & Walker is to one day replicate this level of excitement for every single round we lead. I know we’ll get there, because it wasn’t very long ago that I could only dream of writing a blog post like this one. Moments like this make all our work, blood, sweat and tears worthwhile, give me hope for the future of our economy and reinforce my conviction about the future of our fund. It’s how we will reshape the Nasdaq by the time my daughters graduate from college.
Congratulations, Proxi. Thank you for trusting me. The team and I are honored to be a part of your journey, and I can’t wait to get up there when you ring that bell.