‘Miami is the perfect place for us,’ says the CEO of this tech week success story
By Riley Kaminer
Most of us have gotten something out of Miami Tech Week (Month), whether it’s a new business idea, a potential partnership… or a sore throat. But for one new-to-town startup, Miami has truly lived up to its Magic City moniker.
Husband-wife duo Daniela Vega and Francisco Cornejo are the co-founders of Storybook, an app that combines infant massage and relaxation techniques with bedtime stories and music to help families bond, connect, relax, and sleep better. The startup, which has a scientific committee that oversees all content, asserts that 80% of children sleep better with the app, and 89% of users report better connections with their children.
Last week, Vega and Cornejo swept up at least $700,000 in seed financing ($1 million including some deals that are still in the pipeline). This puts the startup firmly on the path to soon hit their goal of closing a $2 million seed round. Previously, Storybook raised capital from Jason Calacanis and other angel investors.
“We think that this is the amount that will take us to a strong Series A,” Cornejo, Storybook’s CEO, told Refresh Miami.
According to Cornejo, this seed funding will enable the startup to add more content to the platform for the close to two million families that already use Storybook. They will also add Japanese and German-language content to better serve a growing user base and partner network in those countries.
The infusion of capital would also help Storybook attract more B2B clients. Already 30 companies have started offering the platform to their employees for two major reasons. First: “If the employee’s children sleep better, the parents sleep better and are more productive,” explained Cornejo. Second, employers increasingly recognize the importance of the mental health and wellness of employees and their families.
This ‘quick’ capital accumulation has actually been months in the making. Earlier this year, Storybook won eMerge Americas’ and City National Bank’s Startup Studio pitch competition, which awarded them $50,000 in grants and a fast-track into the eMerge Americas 2022 Startup Showcase. After making it into the round of 25 finalists, they won a $100,000 grant from Google’s Latino Founders Fund and a $50,000 grant from Miami-Dade County. This traction led them to secure $500,000 in funding commitments during eMerge, including $50,000 from an angel investor they met on the conference floor.
“I’m still processing what that event meant for us,” said Cornejo of eMerge. He characterized the whole situation as “unreal” and rewarding considering all the sacrifices he and Vega have made for the startup.
Cornejo and Vega moved to Miami just a few months ago. Originally hailing from Ecuador, the co-founders’ experience in Miami has already been a positive one. “Miami is a perfect place for us,” Cornejo said, noting particularly the access to U.S. capital coupled with the time zone advantage of being able to have most of their 20-person team spread throughout Latin America.
Cornejo and Vega first developed an MVP for Storybook in early 2019 and established the company in 2020. Before founding Storybook, Cornejo was the CMO of Honda Motors in Ecuador.
Ultimately, Cornejo explained that being in Miami will help them fulfill their mission. “We see Storybook as an important piece of technology that helps parents raise kids to create a more responsible, more respectful, and more empathic society.”
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