From Dropping Out to Raising $20M: Sara Du’s Journey with Alloy Automation

DRF alumna Sara Du launched integration infrastructure platform Alloy Automation with her cofounder Gregg Mojica in 2019. Backed by a16z and BCV, Alloy Automation helps companies integrate seamlessly with apps like Salesforce, Mailchimp, and Shopify. From dropping out of Harvard to raising a $27 million Series A, Sara shares her experiences building from beyond the dorm room. 

What inspired you to start Alloy Automation? 

I’m a bit of a SaaS nerd; I spend my weekends reading about new software and software history. One of the key trends of this decade has been the relentless proliferation of SaaS. The problem is, the landscape is fragmented and disconnected, which causes users to suffer. I realized a connectivity layer is critical.  

What has Alloy’s journey looked like so far?

It’s been four years now. The journey started a bit unexpectedly, with a Product Hunt launch that went well enough for us to build a sizable waitlist and for some notable VC’s to reach out. We got into YC shortly after and spent January through March of 2020 cranking away on the product. Our batch was cut short due to COVID, so we didn’t get a proper demo day and had a tough pre-seed fundraise. Things looked a lot better after that first year; we decided to hone in on commerce as our first vertical, grew our platform, and raised a seed from Bain Capital Ventures. We then noticed a lot of demand for our infrastructure, so we spun that out as a product and became more of an integration infrastructure company rather than a commerce-focused integrations tool. We raised a $20M Series A from a16z and have been focused on realizing the dream since then.  

What role did your experience at DRF play in shaping your entrepreneurial journey? Were there specific moments or insights from DRF that influenced your decision to become a founder?

I did DRF my freshman year at Harvard, the one year I was in school. I have really fond memories of the late night partner meetings in Boston and the annual alumni retreat upstate. What really stuck with me though, is how high of a bar DRF had (and continues to have) for people. After I dropped out, most of my key friends in SF were other alumni of DRF, and these days they probably make up a quarter of my close friends circle. I think DRF also taught me how to appreciate the craft of company building. Being able to learn from founders across such a wide range of industries was a treat, especially at that age. 

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those who are considering leaving formal education to pursue startups/founding?

Four years is an arbitrary number. Don’t stay in school just because it gets you a degree; stay until you’re bored and then start building something that allows you to leave.  

What’s next for Alloy? 

We’re focused on eliminating all the tedium that comes with building integrations. Since we’ve moved beyond commerce, we’ve been pushing into new industries that tend to have even more outdated tech, and API’s, which is exciting for us.

Written by Head of Creative Celina You.

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