Read the original post by Sutian Dong, Partner at F3 on Medium
My partner Anu Duggal recently wrote a blog post about all that has happened in the three years that Female Founders Fund has been in business. We’ve invested in companies revolutionizing industries like microfinance and women’s health, published some of the only research into the state of female-founded venture funding, and continued to support our entrepreneurs with differentiated and valuable resources. We’ve built the foundation for the fund, and are looking ahead into the future.
Today, I’m excited to announce Female Founders Fund’s investment into Shine, a platform designed to support wellness and self-improvement through daily, personalized messaging.
I first met Marah and Naomi, the co-founders of Shine, over a year ago when they were both still working full-time at the non-profit, DoSomething.org. Naomi was the Chief Marketing Officer and Marah was the Head of Product, and together they grew the DoSomething user base to over 5 million members, with 3 million on SMS. Both have spent the majority of their careers scaling messaging for millennials, developing an understanding of how to build a base of passionate users. For Marah and Naomi, Shine originally started as a “side hustle,” with both dedicating nights and weekends to solving the problem of making well-being more affordable using technology, specifically for their peer-group. Over the last year, I’ve been privileged to continue getting to know Marah and Naomi, and we are excited to invest in them for a number of reasons.
Firstly: a recap of our mandate. At Female Founders Fund, we are founders first. For us, as early stage investors, that means we are focused on the founders as a key part in our decision-making process — what makes them best suited to execute on this opportunity? What unique insights, what personal or professional experiences? How have they demonstrated their vision, their passion, and — importantly — their tenacity in the face of challenges?
Secondly: as investors, we are thematically driven. Technology has enabled meaningful companies to be created by breaking apart and building back massive industries, and it’s only beginning in wellness, a $3.7 trillion market. Technology has also democratized access by creating new tools to enable self-improvement, connection with peers, and personalized support for those who need it.
Lastly: we believe that we are only at the beginning of realizing the potential of personalized communication and messaging. Messaging — through voice, text, emoji, even gifs — at the right time, with the right content, leads to incredible engagement and user stickiness. With continuous learning and improvement based on a user’s preferences, the experience only gets better over time.
A year after launching, Shine is now used by over 500,000 people across 165 countries — every single day.
These people wake up every morning to a text message with an affirmation for the day. By leveraging the conversational nature of SMS and proven cognitive behavioral therapy practices, Shine enables people to target dysfunctional beliefs, set and track goals, and improve their happiness and performance in the workplace.
As the user base has grown, fueled by partnerships with celebrities and influencers like Kristen Bell, Lilly Singh and JoJo, and the access points have broadened (you can now use Shine across SMS, Facebook Messenger, Kik, and the mobile web), the users are still the same passionate audience that Shine started with on Day 1.
Marah and Naomi have made the product they wanted for themselves. They have created an intuitive, responsive platform for the tech generation’s needs, and they are capitalizing on the sea change of people now prioritizing taking care of yourself.
We’re excited to support their big vision of making wellbeing accessible for millions of people across the world. If you are focusing on your wellbeing, sign up for Shine here. If you want to actively make this vision possible, they are hiring!