Case Study: How to Raise Funding & Launch a Startup with the Founder of CharaChorder, Riley Keen
In 2019, Riley Keen walked into the CodeLaunch office with a funny-looking device in his hand. Now in 2023, he has built a successful company, CharaChorder, and multiple products that are helping people all over the world.
According to CharaChorder’s website, their mission is to elevate the average human typing speed from 40 words per minute up to 250 words per minute, or average human reading comprehension speed. They have been doing this for less than four years after unveiling their product at CodeLaunch 7.
“CodeLaunch was a big step for us because it was the first time we publicly showed our product. Had developed it for years and was very secretive about it. CodeLaunch was the right timing and right people to reveal our hard work.”- Riley Keen, Founder of CharaChorder
What is CharaChorder?
CharaChorder was named after the chorded keyboard, which is essentially what the product is. With chorded keyboards, you hit multiple keys at once instead of one at a time like a typical computer keyboard.
But with the CharaChorder keyboard, non-verbal people can communicate at the same rate that we speak. CharaChorder One (the first keyboard that was displayed at CodeLaunch) replaces your typical keyboard as you wiggle the device around to type. If you want to go back to normal typing, you can do that too. Riley says the two ways of typing work together in harmony, which makes CharaChorder work so successfully.
This hyper-fluent interface has never been created before, so people are now typing at the speed of thought. Riley came up with the concept after living with his father, who was non-verbal for most of Riley’s life. Before competing in CodeLaunch, CharaChorder was years in the making, and there was already a team in place for the startup.
CharaChorder’s CodeLaunch Experience
Though CharaChorder did not win CodeLaunch 7, they walked away with winning results. Not only did they only receive free software development services through the competition, but they also had a stage to show off their product for the first time. Through CodeLaunch, Riley met people he still works with today, including investors and a team member of the winning startup, 3GStrong, who uses CharaChorder at the school they work at currently.
After CodeLaunch, Riley’s team went to CES and met Angel investors. They also used Kickstarter as a way for customers to order their first commercial product. Then in 2022, they had their first profitable year.
Riley’s Advice to Startups
CharaChorder has only raised about half a million dollars. This is an incredibly low amount compared to most startup funds and proves you do not need millions of dollars to be successful.
Riley believes the culture of startup founders needing investments to survive puts pressure on both entrepreneurs and investors. This makes the product gets pushed out onto the market too early, ultimately corrupting the company or product.
His advice: use your investments to expand your brand and products, but do not make them your lifeline. CharaChorder has made strategic decisions on who its investors should be. They have lawyers as investors who also help them with contracts. People in the technology industry are investing while also helping to improve their products.
What Happens Next
After such a successful few years, Riley’s goals for CharaChorder in 2023 are simple. The team is now shipping out their products every week (compared to the 3-4 month wait time before) and are focused on making their products even better as their customers give feedback.
“We owe everything we’ve done and accomplished to our community. They give us a unique perspective and insights to figure out how to make it better every day. That’s how you make a company better."
Riley tells us his team has found that when you go out of your way to build something for marginalized groups, it has a way of benefiting everyone. To learn more about CharaChorder, its products, and its mission, click here.
Riley was a guest on our podcast on March 15th. We Code, You Launch is a live weekly interactive podcast that anyone can listen to by joining our growing Discord community on Mondays from 4:30-5:30 CDT. This is a place where you can engage and chat with members of CodeLaunch cohorts and even promote your startup endeavors. Listen to Riley's episode now.
CodeLaunch is heading back to Atlanta for its second competition there on May 10th. Find out all about this event here!