Before our conversation on Extra Crunch Live, Marlon Nichols dropped a bomb on me. MaC Venture Capital’s founding managing partner hadn’t actually seen Wonderschool’s original pitch deck before investing in the distance education startup. Our conversation with the company’s CEO, Chris Bennett, was the first time he had walked over the start-up stadium bridge.
Their partnership was a bit of luck in Silicon Valley, good timing, and old-fashioned networking.
“He was part of an organization that helped connect more diverse founders with investors,” says Nichols. “This was happening when I first moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011. So we started to build a relaxed relationship. Fast forward to 2016. To my first fund, Cross Culture [Ventures], we were interested in investing in early childhood care. We were actually looking at a number of different companies and one of my partners, Suzy [Ryoo] It was like, “Did you hear about that Wonderschool business that Chris Bennett was starting, and I was like,” Holy shit, I know Chris. “”
According to Bennet, Nichols contacted the opportunity on Facebook Messenger. After the initial conversation and the assessment of some direct competitors, Nichols said Wonderschool was ultimately the right fit for Cross Culture’s portfolio.
Rightly so, the origin of the startup also has its roots in SV networks.
“I used to attend the TED talk every year,” Bennett says. “I met a woman who told me that early childhood education was really important [ … ] She said, “A lot of the skills that I use today as a CEO, a lot of these seeds were planted before I was five years old. I thought that was a really crazy idea. I started to research and realized that there was a shortage of child care centers in America.
Bennett backed down slightly when we started showing the company’s first deck. The first thing that struck us all was how simple the layout is: white text on a blue background, largely made up of bullets. There’s no flash – or even graphics – to be found on the whole. And the CEO adds that honestly, not much has changed aesthetically between that first pitch and the Series A deck.
“It was what we were evaluating at the time,” says Bennett. “We were really focused on the product-to-market fit and really trying to figure out what our customers needed. And we’re really focused on building the team.
Perhaps there was something to that, however, as Wonderschool managed to raise $ 20million for the latter.