You Gotta Have Faith…
Catholic pray and meditation app Hallow announced their Series A last week. Since the founders never formally announced their Seed Round, which I led at Uncork Capital in late 2019, I wanted to share a few thoughts on making a seed investment in Faith-focused Tech along with the news of their $12M+ round led by Katherine Boyle and General Catalyst. Katherine’s excellent deep dive into faith in the US today and her Series A investment is absolutely worth a read.
I’d long been curious about the limited investments made in technologies supporting people and communities of faith when they number in the 100s of millions, and in the case of Catholics, over a billion globally. While secular meditation as a practice has grown more mainstream in the US thanks to apps like Calm, venture money has been slow, if not skeptical, to embrace and fund religion, spirituality, and faith. Investing in religion seemed to be the third rail for Silicon Valley despite Americans who regularly pray numbering tens of millions more than those who have a secular meditation practice.
When I met Alex Jones in the summer of 2019, Hallow was in its infancy. He and his cofounders launched Hallow a few months prior by way of a Kickstarter campaign. While early, it was clear to me they were focused on building a world-class product with the intention of helping millions of people connect to their faith to find peace, comfort, love, and hope. I believed that Alex’s own journey to start Hallow, one that involved using secular meditation apps only to find himself wanting more spiritually, was not an anomaly amongst the budding Hallow community.
As I talked to early Hallow users, I met people who sought a healthy habit similar to mindfulness meditation app users and wanted a spiritual component. Others were already deeply spiritual and actively praying. Even with its nascent content, Hallow was already appealing to a wide audience in terms of their relationship with the Catholic faith (from new/exploratory to returning-after-time-away to deeply-spiritual-and-practicing) and in terms of demographic (users were almost evenly split between young, middle-aged, and older demos).
Alex and his co-founders had strong opinions and instincts about the Hallow product experience that were differentiated from what I’d seen on the market previously. Hallow was not trying to recreate an offline church experience or provide a Facebook-like experience for a parish and its parishioners. Hallow offered its community support in their daily spirituality, whether or not a user was part of a parish community.
And then, not long after I invested, the world changed. In 2020, a year defined by disease, hate, division, uncertainty, death, suffering, & loneliness, Hallow app’s mission was more vital than ever… I was constantly moved when the founders shared stories with me about the lives Hallow touched in this time of grief, anxiety, and isolation. Hallow grew from 500K to 8 million prayers in the last year, connecting a community through prayer and reflection, bringing people closer to their faith and God. Today, people in 150 countries around the world are using Hallow to pray the Rosary, meditate on the Daily Gospel, listen to beautiful spiritual music & chant, learn about the Bible, calm their mind before they sleep with Bible Stories from Catholic influencers like Jonathan Roumie and Father Mike Schmitz, and connect with their friends and family to build habits of prayer together.
This is only the beginning for Hallow, and I’m so excited about the impact this Series A funding will enable. My congratulations to Alex Jones, Erich Kerekes, Alessandro DiSanto, and the amazing Hallow team on this big milestone. It’s been a joy to partner with all of you early in the Hallow journey. And I have to personally thank you for bringing a practice of mindfulness to board meetings by introducing a moment of personal reflection before we start each one: especially in times of Zoom fatigue, it’s been a wonderful way to clear our mind and set individual intentions for our working sessions together.
If you’re interested in joining this small but mighty team that is HQ’d in the great city of Chicago, apply here: https://jobs.lever.co/hallow