When Erine came to Uncharted, his company Aunt Bertha had 10,000 users and a bit of service revenue. But he was scraping by, paying his one part-time employee out of his own savings.
Aunt Bertha founder Erine Gray participated in the Uncharted Global Institute in 2012. At that time, he had launched Aunt Bertha, a web platform that makes it easy to find and apply for free and low-cost programs of any kind, anywhere—from food, housing, and health, to education, work, and retirement. At the same time, it helps innovative foundations, nonprofits, and city governments reach more people and serve their communities better.
When Erine came to Uncharted, Aunt Bertha had around 10,000 unique users and earned a little bit of service revenue. But Erine was scraping by, paying his one part-time employee out of his own savings. In his own words,
“I was in the start-up stage where I had no idea whatsoever what I was doing. I knew how to build the product, but not how to build a successful company.”
80% of Aunt Bertha’s initial round of funding ($100,000) came from Uncharted Angels who Erine met through Uncharted. When it came time for Aunt Bertha to raise a second round ($845,000), one of those Uncharted Angels flew to Austin to coach Erine on defining his ask, picking a valuation, and structuring the deal. He and another Angel both re-upped their investments, which Erine credits with sending a strong signal to other funders, who then committed to invest.
Erine describes the pitch training and practice he received at Uncharted as “unbelievably helpful, far better than any of the other incubators” and credits it with making him a far more confident presenter and increasing his ability to attract resources.
Erine was selected as a 2014 TED Fellow after meeting the head of the TED Fellows program, a friend of Uncharted, at the Uncharted Climax. He was encouraged to apply by his Uncharted classmates, and the references in his application were all provided by members of the Uncharted Tribe: A fellow Uncharted entrepreneur, an Uncharted mentor, and an Uncharted founder!
According to Erine, “What separates Uncharted from other accelerators is that the team genuinely cares about your success. I can pick up the phone for support or guidance anytime, and often do. Tyler (a previous Uncharted employee) even joined me for my first meeting with an investor because I didn’t have the confidence to do it myself. From that meeting, I got my first investment.”
When Erine was struggling to raise his first major round of funding, Uncharted connected him with fellow Uncharted entrepreneur and seasoned fundraiser Dan Rosen, who provided support and advice. Now having raised over $1M himself, Erine provides advice to new Uncharted entrepreneurs.
Erine describes the Uncharted community as vital to his success: “Being able to Skype with other entrepreneurs, share struggles, and brainstorm is the most important thing you can get out of an accelerator. It’s a very close bond that you’ll always have. There’s a lot of talk about funding but having a small group of like-minded people supporting and rooting for you is even more valuable.”
Since participating from the Uncharted Global Institute, Aunt Bertha has raised over $1,000,000, increased its user base by 10x, and landed contracts with a number of significant enterprise customers, including the City of Austin, AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons), the Robin Hood Foundation, Critical Mass, Wellpoint Health, and Superior Health. The team has grown to 35 full-time employees in Austin, supported by more than 42 full-time contractors. With over 340,000 unique users, Aunt Bertha has made it easy for thousands of people to connect to the programs they need.
Erine says of his Uncharted experience:
“Having gone through other incubator and accelerator programs, Uncharted was the best. And it’s not a close call—Uncharted is magnitudes better. It gave me incredible value for my time and money commitments.”