Small-business quest for capital in the pandemic propels Santa Rosa software startup Hello Alice
In eight years, Carolyn Rodz and Elizabeth Gore, founders of Santa Rosa-based Hello Alice, have built a smart-software platform that each week helps connect a half-million small businesses nationwide to the funding, networks and services they need to succeed.
And in the current pandemic-driven economy, that has come to mean entrepreneurial survival, according to Gore, president.
“We have a tool to alert owners when something becomes available for the stage of growth or location of the business,” Gore said. “We use data and machine learning to make sure we help the business owner uniquely in their own path.”
About 70% of those helped by Hello Alice include what’s being called with the latest Census data the “new majority,” women, people of color, those with disabilities, and military veterans.
The thousands of data points the company gets from the businesses it helps go into analysis of barriers the entrepreneurs face in access to capital. For example, women who have been out of the workforce raising children can face challenges with a limited credit record, and veterans who have been on deployment face similar credit-history challenges in seeking business capital, Gore said.
While the company doesn’t disclose revenues, growth in the last two years alone was about 1,000%, Gore said.
In June, Hello Alice raised $21 million in series B funding led by QED Investors. The company employs 61, split between Santa Rosa and Houston, and has 30 open positions.
On top of the money coming in to grow the company, Hello Alice also has set up a pandemic capital program, set to launch this week to distribute grants and other alternative funding to small businesses.
The company already has distributed $21 million in grants in the past two months, and the goal is to distribute $50 million next year, Gore said.
Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Before the Business Journal, he wrote for Bay City News Service in San Francisco. He has a degree from Walla Walla University. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-521-4256.