Lemonada Media, the podcast network that presents humanity unfiltered, announced it has raised $8 million in Series A (second round) funding led by BDMI, a wholly owned subsidiary of the global media services and education company Bertelsmann.
Also included in this round are Madison Wells, Greycroft, Spring Point Partners LLC, Intuition Capital, and Owl Capital Group. New and existing individual investors include Wendy Millard, vice chair of MediaLink, and Stephanie Hannon, CTO for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, as well as Blue Collective, Lemonada’s lead seed investor and largest outside investor to date.
Co-founded by Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wachs, Lemonada’s mission is to present authentic first-person narratives that highlight the diverse human experience and make us all feel less alone. Lemonada is entering its third year of operation with a growing slate of 20 original podcasts, reaching millions of listeners per month.
In 2021, Lemonada tripled its revenue, added 10 new shows, designed and trademarked an audio reality studio (BEING Studios) led by reality star veteran Kasey Barrett, and co-created original shows like Written Off with Jay Ells’ Black Bar Mitzvah and Believe Her with publishing house Spiegel & Grau, which launched at the top podcast charts. The network also has its eye on continued global expansion, after notching No. 1 shows in Europe with In Grio con Fra (Italy) and As Me with Sinéad (Ireland).
“Anyone working with Lemonada gets out of bed in the morning to help make the world a better place. This funding will allow our independent, diverse, women-led, audio-first network to not only grow our slate, but to expand our team, brand, and organizational partnerships, and creator community,” says Lemonada CEO Cordova Kramer. “In addition to or KPIs around audience and revenue, one goal during this time is to keep a keen eye on diversity, with the intention of reaching new audiences in the U.S. and beyond.”
“This is a thrilling moment for Lemonada, allowing our staff, hosts and partners to keep innovating, reach larger audiences with our podcasts, and find ways to bring our community together at live and virtual events” says Chief Creative Officer Wittles Wachs. “More podcasts, yes, but also expanding outreach and bringing more diverse talent and staff into the network, and more partnerships with brands who are looking to make life less with us.”
Lemonada was founded in 2019 after Jess (an early producer with Crooked Media) & Steph (an author, voice actress and theater director) connected after learning they had both lost their beloved little brothers to opioid overdoses. The company’s first podcast, Last Day, chronicles the opioid crisis in America by zooming in on the last day of Stefano Cordova Jr.’s life, and evolves to take a broader view of the complex epidemic.
While co-creating that series, Wittles Wachs and Cordova Kramer saw a broader opportunity to make life suck less, one podcast at a time, by building a network. The now-41 person full-time staff is concentrated in NYC, LA, Twin Cities and working flexibly across the country.