Despite economic turmoil in the tech world, an Oakland-based startup shows that moonshots are still getting funded. Felt, co-founded by Sam Hashemi and Can Duruk, wants to disrupt the role of maps in society, and rethink how we think about the medium. The startup allows users to build a map with datasets integrated into it, and work with each other to showcase impact in a less static way than your average Google maps query.
Despite a massive mission — proving that maps are a forgotten yet fundamental medium worth renovating — the co-founders cited proven business models from Figma and Notion, both valued in the billions, as reason to believe in their work. The aforementioned companies both succeeded in rolling out to users for personal use, then pivoting to the enterprise, a playbook that Felt wants to follow (and that VCs can certainly speak the language of).
The argument worked. Today, the collaborative software startup tells TechCrunch that it recently closed a $15 million Series A led by Footwork, with participation from Bain Capital Ventures, Moxxie Ventures and Designer Fund.
Since its seed round, a $4.5 million investment announced in August 2021, Felt has grown its team from seven people to 15 people across Hawaii, California, Missouri, Vermont, Canada and Spain. One of Felt’s team members — Mamata Akella — is even an in-house cartographer — a job title you don’t too often see as part of the early-stage startup ranks.
The funding, and team growth, means that Felt thinks it is ready for the next phase of growth: feedback. The startup launched its platform publicly today after weeks of private beta testing with over 1,000 people. The public beta combined 50 layers of data, such as earthquake history or wildfire data, with a clean interface meant to empower people to draw their own maps. That in and of itself is a feat, the co-founders say, given that data is often fragmented, inaccurate or just straight-up badly formatted.