Durham-based Stashpad, which has designed a virtual notepad for professional software developers to stay in flow so they can do better work, has raised a nearly $1.8 million pre-seed round to give it 18 months of runway.
The funding came from a variety sources ranging from fellow developers that the Stashpad co-founders have met along the way to the Triangle Tweener Fund.
Stashpad Co-Founder and CEO Cara Borenstein said the money will go toward product development, including some customer support and strategy. Borenstein said the Stashpad team would also benefit from the expertise of Scot Wingo and Robbie Allen, who operate as general partners for the Triangle Tweener Fund.
“I’m a first-time founder,” Borenstein said. “So is my co-founder. So we definitely wanted folks who could mentor us and fill in the gaps that we have, and that’s already definitely been true of Scot and Robbie.”
[Editor’s Note: We first profiled Stashpad in February, 2021, under its previous name, Bytebase. Borenstein was also the subject of a Download Q&A this June. Also in June, Stashpad was a new addition to the 2022 Triangle Tweener List.]
Stashpad co-founders Borenstein and Theo Marin were both software engineers themselves, at Twilio and Nextdoor, respectively, who met while studying computer science at Columbia University. That meeting obviously went very well—they’re now married.
However, Stashpad’s direct roots can be traced back to the Bay area in 2019, when Borenstein and Marin originally set out to create a better wiki for software engineering teams. But after hundreds of customer interviews, they realized software developers really needed a better scratchpad.
“We weren’t actually being grounded in the reality of what developers actually wanted to use and what actually would be helpful to them,” Borenstein said. “As a result of that learning experience, we’re really rigorous about not building anything unless we see that developers actually want it.”
In 2021, Stashpad moved its headquarters to Durham as it participated in the Techstars Anywhere program. The startup team now operates out of American Underground in downtown Durham.
This move was a strategic decision based on the quality of life and strong tech talent in the Triangle, Borenstein said, in addition to the fact that Marin’s parents lived here.
What Makes A Strong Investment
Wingo, who splits his time between being the CEO and Founder of on-demand car care startup Spiffy (which just today introduced new brake services) as well as the Triangle Tweener Fund’s General Partner, said that Stashpad checks many of the boxes the Tweener Fund looks for in an investment. Such as: they’re on the cusp of 10 team members, they are a product-led company led by savvy Bay-area engineers, and—notably in the startup space—Borenstein is a female CEO.
Plus, they solve a real problem faced by software engineers everywhere.
“When you are an engineer, you are solving complex problems which require you to go into a ‘flow state,’” Wingo said. “Basically you are keeping all the code in your head and you need to really focus to do that.”
With both Wingo and Allen being experienced entrepreneurs with technical chops, Borenstein is confident their mentorship will help Stashpad on its business journey.
“I think that mentorship will be really valuable to us,” Borenstein said. “It also is just exciting for us to have that cement—‘we’re here, and we’re excited to be here.’ We’re excited to be part of the community. We’re excited to get help from other founders. And we’re also excited as we grow to give help to other founders too, because we love the area and we want to see it grow.”
Since the scratchpad desktop app has been up and running, Borenstein said customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Added Wingo, “Stashpad is in the phase where they are really nailing the product, getting to product-market fit and getting the usage up from developers that download and give it a try. Thus, we’re hopeful the investment and our network of LPs can help them through that phase and into the ‘O.K., the product is ready, let’s scale up the go-to-market function’ phase.”
The notepad is just the beginning of where Stashpad wants to make an impact in software developers’ lives, Borenstein said. There are many other adjacent problems that their technical consumer base have expressed, and Stashpad is on a mission to fix those as well.
“We actually see the scratchpad as just the starting point of where developers are already often using it as their home base,” Borenstein said. “Imagine if it was so much more powerful and was integrated with everything you’re working with. It can really help developers be more productive, and the part that excites me the most is, not just be more productive but actually also enjoy your job even more.”