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The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview: Arianna Armelli of Dorothy
The Fund is a founder community and early stage fund, by founders for founders.
Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. This week the spotlight is on Arianna Armelli, CEO and co-founder of Dorothy, a startup that provides the fastest way for property owners to receive cash after a disaster.
After a tornado hits in The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy finds herself in an unfamiliar place and says to her dog, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” It’s a phrase that has come to mean that we’ve stepped completely out of our comfort zone and into an unknown and strange environment. Anyone who’s experienced a natural disaster can relate. CEO and co-founder Arianna Armelli, along with co-founder Claudio Angrigiani, created Dorothy to offer immediate cash to small businesses and residential owners who experience damage causing events and are waiting for an insurance claim.
Arianna started her career as an architect and urban planner. She was part of a large-scale development project from sketch to the ground up and credits her time on the construction site for helping shape her as a founder. She transferred the skills of building an actual building into building a business. Arianna and Dorothy are working to prepare and protect your home or business before, during and after disaster events.
We can all agree with Dorothy that, “there’s no place like home.”
How did you come up with the idea for Dorothy and why now?
I started researching the problem after seeing the effects of Hurricane Sandy firsthand. It wasn’t until COVID that the current idea for Dorothy came to fruition. We saw large number of property owners are affected when these disaster events take place and they're waiting for a significant amount of time to receive funding. There was this exposed gap to having an accessible financial product, knowing you're going to get funding at some point in the future, but needing the money right now. We saw the opportunity for us to come up with a solution where we can be the immediate funding, but also analyze how disaster affects different types of people and create a product around that.
What is Dorothy’s “Northstar”?
We really want to cultivate sustainable economic recovery solutions for communities that are at risk of climate change. That could be a number of different things, but our Northstar vision is really to streamline preparedness and recovery for anyone who experiences an unexpected event and there's a financial cost associated with it.
What makes Dorothy a “must-have” vs a “nice-to-have”?
Oftentimes we are the only option for people without great credit because they can’t get a traditional loan or financing. Also, if a product like ours at scale was available during COVID, I think there would be a lot more companies that were still in business, as opposed to having to shut down because they just ran out of money to front that expense. So under that notion, we're definitely a “must-have” because the little guy needs financing options when these things happen and sometimes insurance isn't the full solution for people.
Tell us about a recent milestone.
We’re excited to announce that we just closed a $1.8M seed round, led by Indicator Ventures
What’s on the horizon for Dorothy?
We initially launched our product direct to consumer and we're going to continue pushing on that acquisition channel. We're also in the process of identifying B2B partnerships, so starting to work with service providers who are immediately involved in disaster prone areas and develop a strategy and platform around how to make a more streamlined, simplified solution for consumers to use when these big events happen.
Check out our company feature on TechCrunch!