Three 22-year-old founders created a way to help managers avoid burnout among workers. Here’s the pitch deck that landed them a $4 million seed round.

Kona cofounders
  • Kona is an employee-experience startup that helps managers learn how to coach their team members. 
  • It helps bosses support good mental health among workers and avoid employee burnout. 
  • Kona graduated from Techstars and just raised a $4 million seed round led by Unusual Ventures. 

Kona is a workplace-engagement platform that lets team members share thoughts about their mental health in the world of remote work. It offers daily check-ins and anonymous feedback where people can share how they’re feeling. 

Three 22-year-old friends from UCLA founded the startupt after they saw the need for a product that could help managers better connect with their teams after the sudden shift to online work during the pandemic.

“For folks in our generation, Gen Zs and millennials, mental health is much more de-stigmatized,” Sid Pandiya, Kona’s cofounder and CEO, said. “We’ve come into the workforce and we realize these conversations aren’t happening and the support isn’t really there.” 

Kona works as an add-on AI feature for workplace-messaging platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams.  During the work day, an animated dog avatar will pop up in a company’s workplace-messaging platform and ask employees to check in on how they’re feeling that day as green, yellow, or red, reflecting good, neutral, or not so good, and then leave a comment as to why.

Managers can then use this data to better understand and coach their employees throughout the work week, from personalized check-ins to just general bonding between team members. Other team members on a small team can see the check-in comments, but not the whole workplace, Pandiya said. 

Kona got a big boost when Techstars accepted the company into its Summer 2020 cohort. The program helped the founders meet with VC funds like Unusual Ventures, who signed on to lead the company’s $4 million seed round. Pandiya said Evolutionary Ventures, 2.12 Angels, and angel investors like Jeff Wilke, an Amazon executive, also participated in the round.

Kona has already secured some Silicon Valley customers like Oyster, Buffer, Aircall, and GoodRx, and the team hopes to use the new funding to expand into original content about how to successfully manage teams. 

Check out the 17-slide redacted pitch deck Kona used to raise $4 million in seed funding: