Building a global company requires boots on the ground, Sarah Hill said as she waited to board a flight to Kansas City, hours after the close of her startup’s first million-dollar funding round.
“Once the Kansas City investors hopped in, that’s when it came to be oversubscribed — we were just delighted,” said Hill, founder and CEO of StoryUP Studios, maker of Healium — a drugless, VR-based solution for stress and anxiety.
Click here to read more about Healium and StoryUP Studios.
Carrying a total of $1.3 million, the funding round will see the Columbia, Missouri-based startup increase its sales and marketing efforts and explore new product development. A slew of other growth-related opportunities will help the company fuel ongoing pilots that use Healium’s technology to treat conditions beyond anxiety, Hill explained.
A different kind of stress, raising the round required worldwide hustle, she added.
“It’s ironic that I’m talking to you while running through an airport,” Hill said in reference to a whirlwind year of travel that’s seen her pitch Healium to investors across the globe.
“My team was in Thailand shooting a project for Google. We were in D.C. a couple of weeks ago shooting an experience at the Korean War Memorial. The other part of my team is in D.C. at a military vendor day, showing the product to the military and the government. We were in Amsterdam with the Global Entrepreneurship Summit,” she detailed, pinpointing but a few of the stamps on the startups passport.
“If you want to build a global brand, you have to meet people where they are and we’re fortunate that people outside of Missouri are discovering our products,” Hill said.
A direct result of such a philosophy: Healium’s winning pitch at SXSW in March, which put the startup in direct contact with Sean Rad, founder of Tinder and the newest member of the StoryUP advisory board, Hill revealed.
“[Rad] is a brilliant product mind. He built the top-grossing non-gaming, mobile app in the world,” she said. “That level of product consult is incredibly valuable for us.”
With global reach and growing allure for tech talent, StoryUP is just getting started, Hill said.
“[Our success] says that the Silicon Prairie is not just ripe — it’s bursting at the seams,” she added.
“If a company in Columbia, Missouri, can get blue chip clients or its products can raise $1 million, can develop the world’s first real computing platform that’s powered by wearable interfaces, how might we be able to build on that so that other companies can develop tangentially related products?” Hill said of the way her company could serve as an example that tech needs no coast.
Doubling up on success, the funding round closed the same day StoryUP joined the inaugural cohort of the Launch Health accelerator — a LaunchKC program in partnership with Nueterra Capital which will help the startup establish even deeper Kansas City roots, Hill explained when asked if she’d consider relocating to the metro.
“You know, never rule out anything. We already have deep roots in the Kansas City area. So, that’s always a possibility as we continue to scale up and grow,” she said.
Click here to learn more about the Launch Accelerator and how its elevating women-led startups.
StoryUP plans to release additional information about the funding round, including a look at its Kansas City-based investors, on Sept. 16.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.