What seemed like a disaster turned out to be a blessing for 31-year-old entrepreneur Justin Miller, founder of Deja Mi and WedPics. After a feature story by NewsObserver left the company with an eviction notice for running the 13-employee business out of Miller’s home in Raleigh, NC, the community’s support led to a new working space at The Hub and a $250k investment from a local angel investors.
We first met Miller at the Raleigh-Durham meetup, where we learned about his second startup WedPics, an Instagram-style private photo-sharing app for weddings. The company’s first startup, another geo-based photo-sharing app called Deja Mi, and WedPics were both run out of Miller’s home, until very recently.
The city’s zoning department sent an inspector to give notice of eviction to the 13-employee company after the NewsObserver ran a feature story on Deja Mi, Miller, and the homegrown operation going down in Miller’s basement. The citation stated that if the business wasn’t removed from the house in 30 days, the city would fine Miller $500/day until the matter was resolved.
The city claims that a neighbor anonymously complained to the Mayor’s office about foot traffic in the neighborhood, yet this is the first Miller has heard of any complaints in the two years the business has operated out of his house.
This reaction surprised the community, coming from a region working to grow the startup scene in Raleigh and Durham. But Miller has told TechCrunch that he received over 100 different offers for a place to work (both permanently or temporarily) from local businesses and people from the area.
They ended up at the Hub, which is a brand new co-working space in downtown Raleigh. And perhaps even better than that, Henry Copeland, founder of Blogads.com, caught wind of WedPics and decided invest in the company toward its second round of investment. With Copeland’s investment, Deja Mi has raised $250k towards a $1.5 million round. This follows a $750K seed round in June of this year.
WedPics has since moved from a paid model ($99 for the couple’s album) to freemium, instead generating revenue with account upgrades like custom printed invite cards, unlimited hosting, and true hi-res album downloads. The app has seen 5,000 couple sign ups, with an average of more than 300 sign-ups a day in over 40 countries.