Tella Firma Foundations, a company that is revolutionizing new home foundations, announced today it received over $1.5 million in Angel funding led by the North Texas Angel Network (NTAN). In all, more than 25 experienced Angel investors participated in the round of funding. According to Chuck McCoy, Executive Director of NTAN, the investment is the largest for NTAN in terms of the dollar amount and the number of members who participated, actually oversubscribing the Series A offering.
“Tella Firma has the key ingredients we look for—an experienced management team, a real solution to a well-known problem, and intellectual property that protects the investment they must make to bring the product to a widespread market,” McCoy says.
The Tella Firma foundation product is proven and patented and until recently was utilized predominately in luxury and custom homes or commercial projects. The company offers a solution for homeowners worried about active soils and the increase in earthquakes in the North Texas area and what it may do to home foundations. Lennar Homes recently signed on as the first volume production builder to use Tella Firma throughout their Irving subdivision. The Tella Firma system has been used extensively in DFW as well as Austin and San Antonio with plans to expand outside of Texas.
“Tella Firma is one of those rare companies with a remarkably simple innovation that is in fact revolutionary,” says Dr. Woodrow Gandy, one of NTAN’s most active investors. “I love companies with a product that makes you say, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ Add top-notch management and you have a winner!”
By elevating a slab-on-grade foundation, Tella Firma creates a protective void between the ground and the home itself. This application isolates the slab and guards it from damaging soil swells, contractions and unexpected movement caused by light earthquakes. Most foundation damage results from soil movement that can be caused by expansion and contraction of clay soils due to moisture change or by seismic activity. A time-lapse video of how the system works can be seen here:
Tom Montgomery is an investor and Managing Partner of Montgomery Coscia Greilich LLP. “I like this deal because of the experienced management who are creative at adapting to meet market demand,” he said. “In addition, it is a proven market with a unique solution and a defensible patent, which means as investors we have a great upside opportunity and also downside protection.”
In an interesting twist, Tella Firma CEO, Jim Fontaine, who is also an active Angel investor with NTAN, found himself on the other side of the table pitching investors.
“There is an advantage to knowing what Angel investors are looking for, but the fact is we have all of the right ingredients for success,” says Fontaine. “We have a very large market opportunity right here in Texas with a patented and proven product that we are already selling to top builders. Tella Firma foundations can be found in approximately 15–20 percent of the luxury and custom homes in DFW and we expect to do the same with volume production builders. In five years, we predict our product will be used in over 10,000 foundations a year.”