Lemonada Media, the podcast company created last year by CEO Jessica Cordova Kramer and Chief Creative Officer Stephanie Wittels Wachs, has raised $1.38 million in a seed funding round led by Blue Collective, an early-stage venture capital firm, and a group of angel investors. Lemonada, which says its mission is creating a slate of podcasts “that make life suck less,” says the money will help accelerate its growth. Lemonada plans to double its slate every year for several years starting in 2021 and has plans for global expansion soon.
“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 also 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. Lemonada’s current team of about 20 full-timers and freelancers is expected to grow by about nine full-time staff in 2020.
Lemonada says it has had “strong revenue,” with advertisers including 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 all-embracing their mission – and their target of women and Middle America listeners. “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,” Cordova Kramer said.
That helped attract Blue Collective investment dollars, where founder JJ Kasper said Cordova Kramer and Wittels Wachs are two of the best entrepreneurs and operators he’s met. “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,” said Kasper.
Lemonada came onto the podcast scene last fall with the series Last Day, which took on the opioid crisis. It has released six podcasts so far, including As Me with Sinéad and Good Kids: How Not to Raise an A**Hole, and it plans to release two podcasts this summer. This month Lemonada will launch Tell Me What to Do with influencer Jaime Primak Sullivan. T also recently signed a hosting agreement with former U.S. Housing Secretary Julián Castro for a show about the historical and current poverty epidemic nationally and globally. It will debut late summer. Most of Lemonada’s current series are expected to 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,” said Wittels Wachs. “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.”
Lemonada said it aims to go from about 700,000 monthly listens across its network to about two million in the coming months, growing exponentially from there. “Putting great audio into millions of ears here in America and globally is what keeps us motivated and operating like a well-oiled and growing machine,” added Wittels Wachs.