[TheDevs]

Klaviyo Founders Support Former Employees’ Startups with Generous Seed Funding

Boston-based company Klaviyo, valued at $6 billion, has gained attention for its founders’ benevolent approach towards employees who leave to start their own ventures. Andrew Bialecki and Ed Hallen, the co-founders of Klaviyo, have committed to providing seed funding ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 to support the startups of former employees, even when their business ideas are in the early stages. This unique approach aims to foster greater entrepreneurial density in Boston.

One such employee, David Henriquez, had expressed his intention to start his own company during a conversation with Bialecki shortly after joining Klaviyo in 2018. Henriquez eventually left Klaviyo after five years to co-found Hawk, a startup focused on using artificial intelligence to optimize marketing and advertising content. Bialecki was the first person Henriquez reached out to, and he promptly received financial support from both Bialecki and Hallen.

Another former employee, Andrew Smith, developed a project while working at Klaviyo and sought advice from Bialecki and Hallen to refine his idea. Encouraged by their support, Smith founded Swapt, a company that helps businesses expand their marketing databases through gamification. Swapt has since secured significant funding and counts prominent clients such as DoorDash and Puma.

Michael Kurson and Jared Mintzlaff, who previously worked in sales and business development at Klaviyo, founded First Touch to address the challenges of writing personalized emails for prospective customers. Their AI-powered software personalizes emails by gathering information about the recipient and their company, resulting in more effective communication. First Touch has already attracted several hundred sales representatives from companies like Klaviyo, HubSpot, and Zoom, and recently secured $3 million in funding, including investments from Bialecki, Hallen, and HubSpot co-founder Dharmesh Shah.

Wonderment, a company that helps online merchants provide real-time updates on order status, was one of the earliest startups to spin out from Klaviyo. Co-founder Brian Whalley initially proposed the concept while still at Klaviyo but left the company to pursue Wonderment when it didn’t gain traction internally. Whalley received financial support from both Bialecki and Hallen, and Wonderment has raised $6 million to date.

While Klaviyo alumni-founded startups like Swapt and Wonderment contribute to the enhancement of Klaviyo’s software, not all former employees receive funding. Chathri Ali, who worked remotely for Klaviyo in Austin, Texas, started a company to streamline the hiring process for hospitals. Although Ali did not secure investment from Bialecki and Hallen, they expressed support for his venture.

In a remarkable move, Klaviyo has even set aside office space at its headquarters near South Station for alumni to work on their new ventures. This level of support for former employees is uncommon in the Boston tech scene, where financial backing typically occurs after a company acquisition. Klaviyo’s founders, however, continue to back ambitious employees while running their independent and rapidly growing public company.

While Klaviyo aims to retain entrepreneurial talent by providing autonomy for employees to develop new products within the company, they also embrace the excitement of employees venturing out to start their own businesses. Bialecki and Hallen’s commitment to paying it forward has created a supportive ecosystem for Klaviyo alumni, contributing to Boston’s entrepreneurial density.