Lemonada Media Raises $1.5 Million in Seed Funding, Led by Blue Collective
Rapidly Growing Podcast Network Plans to Double Its Slate of Shows, Hire Three Vice Presidents, and Start Global Expansion
June 11, 2020 –Lemonada Media, the podcast network creating original content that gets you out of bed every morning, announced today $1.5 million raised in a seed funding round led by Blue Collective, an early-stage venture capital firm. Lemonada came on the podcast scene last fall with its chart-topping podcast series Last Day and now has six series out in the world, with a seventh and eighth on the horizon for this summer. Lemonada will double its slate every year for several years starting in 2021 and has plans for global expansion soon.
Blue Collective’s investment will allow for strategic growth, allowing co-founders and co-leaders Jessica Cordova Kramer (Chief Executive Officer) and Stephanie Wittels Wachs (Chief Creative Officer) to continue to accelerate Lemonada’s lofty mission of making life suck less, one podcast at a time. With this recent fundraise led by Blue Collective and filled out by friends, family, and angel investors, Lemonada plans to hire several critical positions to help it scale over the next few years. These positions include Vice Presidents of Production, Finance & Operations, and Marketing & Growth, along with several other essential production and marketing roles.
“We built Lemonada on the belief that exceptional audio could not only tell stories but create robust engagement and solace around the hardest parts of people’s lives. Our goal is to reach hundreds of millions of people around the country and world in the coming years, starting with podcasts that genuinely reflect the human experience,” said Cordova Kramer. “This new seed raise will allow us to have the resources to accelerate these efforts and increase our impact, show by show.”
Lemonada experienced a strong launch, with acclaim for its first series Last Day, hosted by Wittels Wachs, that chronicles the opioids crisis by zooming in one someone’s last day of life – in this case, Stefano Cordova, Jr. – and then zooming out to help listeners understand the complex epidemic. Lemonada quickly followed Last Day’s success (it was the #1 global trending podcast on Chartable in February 2020) with As Me with Sinéad, Good Kids, Mouthpeace with Michael & Pele Bennett, In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt, and a spin-off of Last Day, In Recovery with Dr. Nzinga Harrison. In June, Lemonada will launch Tell Me What to Do with influencer Jaime Primak Sullivan and recently signed a hosting agreement with Secretary Julián Castro for a show about the historical and current poverty epidemic nationally and globally that will debut late summer. Most of Lemonada’s current series will be renewed for a second season.
“We are slated to be a content and talent incubator, spinning out new audio concepts and hit series that present humanity, unfiltered. Now more than ever, people are hungry for content that addresses their lived experience, those that are mundane, and those that may be painful and isolating. Because our company was built off a mountain of personal grief and loss, Lemonada is well-situated to cut through the noise, create beautiful works of art, and make people laugh and feel less alone along the way,” shares Wittels Wachs.
“We love what Jessica and Stephanie are building. The themes and content they are exploring were spot-on for what we needed pre-COVID-19 and are only more relevant now. Even more importantly, Jessica and Stephanie are two of the best entrepreneurs and operators we’ve ever met. We are excited to be along for the journey,” said JJ Kasper, founder, and partner of Blue Collective.
Lemonada experienced strong revenue, attracted unique brands to its network right away, and has persisted in doing so. From Chanel, Teladoc, and First Alert, to foundations like Shatterproof, JED and Well Being Trust, to DTC brands like Literati and Daily Harvest, to start-up brands like Mercari and Talkspace, Lemonada is poised to capitalize on the desire to reach women, middle America, and diverse audiences as well as first-time podcast listeners with brand-safe and unique content. “Revenue was strong in our first few months of operating, and, though 2020 has been a strange year on many levels, has remained strong if not grown along with our audience,” shares Jessica Cordova Kramer.
Lemonada aims to go from about 700,000 listens across its network per month to about 2 million in the coming months, growing exponentially from there. “Putting great audio into millions of ears (and eyes–every episode is transcribed for the Deaf and hard of hearing community) here in America and globally is what keeps us motivated and operating like a well-oiled and growing machine,” adds Wittels Wachs.
Lemonada’s shows regularly appear in the homepages of the top podcast apps, from Apple to Stitcher to Spotify, as well as some of the smaller but beloved apps like Pocket Casts and Castbox. From the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, the Houston Chronicle to the Star Tribune, Seth Meyers to Rachel Maddow, Lemonada, and its uniquely diverse roster of hosts and guests have been everywhere with no plans to slow their persistent marketing and PR breakthroughs. The company was nominated for an iHeartRadio Podcast Award in its first few months of putting out content and received 5 Webby honorees and one Communicator Award for its 2019 content, which only launched in September. The small, approximately 20-person team of full-timers and freelancers, alongside ad sales and distribution partner Westwood One, will grow by about nine full-time staff in 2020 alone.
About Lemonada Media
Award-winning podcaster Jessica Cordova Kramer and best-selling author Stephanie Wittels Wachs joined forces in spring 2019 to form Lemonada Media, offering an unfiltered version of the human experience and a slate of podcasts that make life suck less. The network offers content that is raw and real, sorting through the ugliness, weirdness, awkwardness, and darkness life can bring. They recently wrapped Season One of the chart-topping and award-nominated Last Day, their first of six original series, followed by As Me with Sinéad,Good Kids: How Not to Raise an A**Hole, Mouthpeace with Michael and Pele Bennett,In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt as well as the latest series which launched in May, In Recovery with Dr. Nzinga Harrison. Transcripts of each episode are available on their website the week each episode airs. You can find them at www.lemonadamedia.com.
About Blue Collective
Blue Collective, founded in 2015, is an early-stage venture capital firm headquartered in Brooklyn, NY with $100 million in assets under management. Blue Collective’s overall strategy is to invest in phenomenal people building phenomenal businesses. Blue Collective invests in people first with a focus on pre-Seed and Seed rounds in businesses across category, business model, and industry. To date, Blue Collective has been an early investor in the entrepreneurs and teams building Tecovas, Sir Kensington’s, ZocDoc, Unqork, Headspin, Revel Transit, and more. The team is always on the lookout for great entrepreneurs wherever they may be and whatever their background. Blue Collective’s website is at www.bluecollective.com, and the team is always happy to be an entrepreneur’s first and easiest conversation.
Lemonada is represented by Oren Rosenberg at UTA.