Hallow Religious App for Catholics
According to PitchBook data, faith-based, mostly Christian, apps attracted $175.3 million in venture funding this year through mid-December, more than tripling the $48.5 million they attracted from VCs last year.
It’s a far cry from the meager $6.1 million they attracted in 2016.
As readers might recall, we talked with one of the startups that raised a big round — Glorify — earlier this month when it landed $40 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. The subscription-based “well-being” app currently offers users guided meditation, along with audio bible passages and Christian music, and its co-founder and co-CEO, Ed Beccle, has big ambitions to create a broader platform that includes dating and other features.
More recently, we talked with Alex Jones, the founder of another of the year’s buzziest faith-based apps. Called Hallow, the three-year-old, 40-person outfit raised $40 million in Series B funding back in November from Peter Thiel, Drive Capital, and others and has raised $50 million altogether this year to “help folks to build a routine of prayer and to journey together through the content,” says Jones.
Beyond the fact that Hallow is exclusively focused on Catholics, while Glorify focuses on all Christians, we wondered how the two outfits — which are clearly racing to capture many of the same users — differ in their offerings and in their outlook. What we observed is that Hallow’s CEO, Alex Jones, sounds more “religious” than Beccle, a young serial entrepreneur who describes himself as a philosophical person who is largely focused on how tech impacts how people think and feel.
But we’ll let you hear directly from Jones regarding how he thinks Hallow’s app differs from its rivals. Our chat, below, has been edited lightly for length.
Question and Answer
Why start this company?
It was largely a personal journey. I was raised Catholic but fell away from my faith in high school and college. I would consider myself atheist or agnostic most of the time. Then I got pretty into secular meditation. I was fascinated by it, and Headspace had just launched [as well as] Calm and I loved the products and thought they were an awesome way to learn the technique of meditation from the comfort of your own home. But every time I would meditate, my mind would feel pulled toward something spiritual, something Christian.
Are you a first-time founder?
Yes. I was an engineer an undergrad, so I’d known a little bit of how to code. Then I went to McKinsey [and worked in] strategy consulting for a couple of years, then I went to [the Stanford Graduate School of Business], so I had some exposure to entrepreneurship. When we started talking about this idea, I learned how to code in Swift for iOS in a couple of weeks [with the help of] a free Stanford course, so I was able to pick that up quickly enough, but I am a terrible engineer [and we’ve thrown away] the code that I’ve written [since]. I’m by no means a legit developer.
Has anyone from Facebook reached out you?
Facebook has been really helpful for us in terms of reaching out to folks and spreading the word about Hallow, especially during the pandemic. Facebook has also been incredibly helpful in helping us figure out how to advertise to folks and what messaging works. They have a core partner program thing that we’ve been able to be a part of.
Hallow Religious App for Catholics