Forbes ’30 under 30′ entrepreneurs raise $3M for remote work productivity startup backed by Meta – GeekWire

LifeAt Spaces employees, left to right: Devin Ajimine, Ashika Mulagada, Pouya Rad and Marisa Chentakul. (Photo LifeAt Spaces)

After more than a year of working remotely, Devin Ajimine and his friends couldn’t find a productivity tool that would help them stay focused.

So they decided to build one themselves in a weekend.

“We threw it on TikTok and then it went viral a couple of times,” said the 25-year-old Seattle-born entrepreneur from Hawaii.

The tool they presented, called LifeAt Spaces, has been viewed and shared millions of times on various social media platforms. Viewers were immediately drawn to the concept: consolidating and organizing a set of productivity tools on a single platform, allowing users to create their own digital office from a browser or desktop app.

Ajimine said the goal was to eliminate cluttered desks. This thesis hit the mark: the application has been downloaded more than a million times.

LifeAt graduated from top startup accelerator Y Combinator last summer, helping turn a weekend project into a full-fledged business.

The startup has caught the eye of some notable investors, including a venture capital arm of Meta, Facebook’s parent company. Myspace co-founder Aber Whitcomb is also a funder, in addition to YC, Pioneer Square Labs, the venture capital arm of parent company Line Z Holdings, Pack Ventures, Goodwater, SV Tech and Pioneer Fund .

As an early-stage mainstream startup led by young entrepreneurs, LifeAt is a rarity in a Seattle tech ecosystem dominated by enterprise software or longtime executives from Amazon and Microsoft.

“When we hit 1 million users for the first time, it was quite transformative,” Ajimine said. “It’s like, ‘Okay, people are really interested in what we’re doing.’ Now can we build a platform that can be scaled to become a billion dollar company?”

Prior to founding LifeAt, Ajimine worked as a product manager at T-Mobile. He teamed up with his former University of Portland IT classmate Pouya Rad, 27, who worked as an engineer at Vimeo, and Marisa Chentakul, 25, who was previously a product designer at TikTok. Founding engineer Ashika Mulagada, 23, is a former software engineer at Capital One.

All four members recently made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

LifeAt’s workplace productivity tool is set to “Japan lofi vibes”. (LifeAt screenshot)

LifeAt users choose from a selection of “spaces” to set as their virtual backdrop, ranging from a coffee shop to a simulated Zoom call with Zac Efron. Users can add a soundtrack, post a to-do list, share a calendar, and set a Pomodoro timer, all in one space. They can also invite friends over to their digital office, setting up video calls to hang out.

The startup partners with digital creators to design the virtual spaces. One of its most prominent collaborators is Lofi Girl, a popular YouTube channel that creates beats for relaxing and studying.

Julie Sandler, Managing Director of PSL, said the product has seen “exponential adoption” with users around the world who use it daily to stay disciplined in their work. She added that several members of her team are “somewhat obsessed” with the app.

“I have LifeAt on my second monitor all the time,” she said.

The shift to remote working has led to a rush of new startups aiming to bring the conveniences and functions of the office or campus into homes. So-called virtual coworking spaces flourished, serving as something of a digital WeWork for students and workers who sought a framework for social interaction and responsibility to have others present.

Examples include Focusmate, which randomly matches strangers on the platform for study sessions, and Seattle startup Spot, which builds virtual offices for businesses.

Ajimine said LifeAt differentiates itself from competitors because people can enjoy the platform without relying on other users. He sees YouTube as a main competitor.

While the pitch of LifeAt’s digital spaces might sound familiar, Ajimine insists it’s not a metaverse tool. “It’s almost like the bridge to this 3D environment,” he said of the similarities. “But you can still use it on things you’re used to, like your computer.”

Last month, the company reported over 35 million minutes of user engagement. It has also attracted nearly 83,000 members to its Discord chat room.

Ajimine said one of the biggest challenges so far was converting LifeAt users into paying subscribers. Although the app is free to start, the company offers a “premium” version, which costs $9 for a monthly subscription or $72 for a year.

Some of the paid features include unlimited notes and video calls. The startup declined to say how many of its users are paid subscribers.

LifeAt is focused on consumers for now, but the goal is to scale up and target businesses as well, Ajimine said.