Lemonada Media is on a Mission to Make Life Suck Less
Co-founded by Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Lemonada’s mission is to present authentic first-person narratives that highlight the diverse human experience and make us all feel less alone. Lemonada is entering its third year of operation with a growing slate of 20 original podcasts, reaching millions of listeners per month. In 2021, Lemonada tripled its revenue, added 10 new shows, designed and trademarked an audio reality studio (BEING Studios) led by reality TV veteran Kasey Barrett, and co-created original shows like Written Off with Jay Ellis’ Black Bar Mitzvah and Believe Her with publishing house Spiegel & Grau, which launched at the top of podcast charts. The network also has its eye on continued global expansion, after notching No. 1 shows in Europe with In Giro con Fra (Italy) and As Me with Sinéad (Ireland).
“Anyone working with Lemonada gets out of bed in the morning to help make the world a better place. This funding will allow our independent, diverse, women-led, audio-first network to not only grow our slate, but to expand our team, brand and organizational partnerships, and creator community,” says Lemonada CEO Cordova Kramer. “In addition to our KPIs around audience and revenue, one goal during this time is to keep a keen eye on diversity, with the intention of reaching new audiences in the U.S. and beyond.”
“This is a thrilling moment for Lemonada, allowing our staff, hosts and partners to keep innovating, reach larger audiences with our podcasts, and find ways to bring our community together at live and virtual events,” says Chief Creative Officer Wittels Wachs. “More podcasts, yes, but also expanding our reach and bringing more diverse talent and staff into the network, and more partnership with brands who are also looking to make life suck less with us.”
Lemonada was founded in 2019 after Jess (an early producer with Crooked Media) & Steph (an author, voice actress and theater director) connected over learning they had both lost their beloved little brothers to opioid overdoses. The company’s first podcast, Last Day, chronicles the opioid crisis in America by zooming in on the last day of Stefano Cordova Jr.’s life, and evolves to take a broader view of the complex epidemic. While co-creating that series, Wittels Wachs and Cordova Kramer saw a broader opportunity to make life suck less, one podcast at a time, by building a network. The now-41 person full-time staff is concentrated in NYC, LA, Twin Cities and working flexibly across the country.
“BDMI was inspired by Lemonada’s rapid growth, unique voice in the market, and ability to repeatedly create high-quality content that audiences are passionate about. Lemonada is making a positive difference in people’s lives and building a successful business while doing it,” said Keith Titan, Partner at BDMI.
“Madison Wells is thrilled to invest in a female-founded media company that is dedicated to telling transformative stories in an entertaining manner that make life a little bit better along the way. We share core values in storytelling and that’s a wonderful rarity,” adds Gigi Pritzker, founder and CEO of Madison Wells. Titan and Pritzker will join the Lemonada Board of Directors, alongside Wittels Wachs, Cordova Kramer, and Michael Buman.
“We got to know Jess and Steph and the Lemonada team, and what we’re excited about is Lemonada being a strong audio-first network with great content, coupled with its potential to be a real anchor-point in the lives of large numbers of listeners. Potentially a household name,” shares Alan Patricof, founder of Greycroft partners which has invested in Wondery, Veritonic, Sonora, Podsights and a number of other audio-centric start-ups.