Trellie taps former Sprint exec, KC investors for $500k financing round
Less than a week after Trellie surpassed its $30,000 Kickstarter goal, the Kansas City startup's co-founder Claude Aldridge told Silicon Prairie News his company closed a $500,000 financing round led by former Sprint president and COO Ron LeMay* (far left) and tech investor Lance LeMay (near left).
The father-son duo were part of an "eclectic group" of 10 investors, Aldridge said, that included himself and his co-founder Jason Reid, family, friends and strategic investors. All but one are in the Kansas City area.
"It's a group of great people that really believe in us and what we're doing," Aldridge said.
Trellie, whose first product is a pager-like device disguised as a fashion accessory, plans to use the funds to expand its team and to manufacture, test, certify and distribute its product.
By May, the startup plans to ship Kickstarter orders, and by June, it hopes to have its device (below) in brick and mortar stores.
"We're in some pretty deep discussions with a few major distribution channels that make sense for Trellie going forward," Aldridge said.
When asked if Sprint – whose name appears in more than half of the bios on the company's about page – would be a part of this distribution, Aldridge said that idea makes "a lot of sense" and that it's on their radar, but he didn't elaborate. He said his startup's connections to Sprint have been a "huge influence," but that he and Reid didn't assemble their team with the local telecom giant on their minds.
"That just happened to be kind of who was in our network that understood what we were trying to do from a wireless perspective," said Aldridge, who previously worked for Ron LeMay's venture capital firm Open Air Equity.
Beyond establishing its distribution model and building its team, Aldridge said Trellie is mapping out its product roadmap.
"We knew when we started this company, we didn't want to be a one-trick pony," he said. His team is now focusing on its first product's two dominate qualities – technology that aims to solve a problem for women and an external hardware device that connects to a mobile phone.
With its Kickstarter campaign successful and funding secured, Aldridge believes Tellie is heading in the right direction.
"The bigger win for us was not the $33,000 we raised, it was the 515 backers that we had," he said. "That was a bigger deal to us because I think that's more of an important indicator of what this company can become."
For more on Trellie, see our post, "With a fashion accessory, Trellie aims to keep women better connected", or check out the company's Kickstarter video below.
Update 4 p.m. – When published, the article incorrectly identified Ron LeMay as former Sprint CEO. He was formerly the company's COO and at one-time the CEO of Sprint PCS, a division of Sprint. The article has been updated to correct this error.
Credits: LeMay and Trellie photos from trellie.com.