Unkey raises 1.5 million pre-seed

We raised a pre-seed to build the best developer experience for API authentication and authorization

Written by

James Perkins

Published on

The Unkey pre-seed round was led by Essence VC and joined by Sunflower Capital, The Normal Fund, and some fantastic friends.

Essence VC leads our round.

When we met Tim Chen for the first time, Andreas and I were blown away by his experience and his immediate understanding of our vision. We only needed ten minutes before we were bouncing ideas and thinking about where to go with Unkey.

Tim also introduced us to our other partners (Sunflower Capital and The New Normal Fund), who were just as excited to see how API authentication and authorization could be simplified.


Our angels are a fantastic group of people in no particular order:

  • Andrew Miklas (Functional Capital / Ex PageDuty Co Founder)
  • Ant Wilson & Rory Wilding (Supabase Co Founder / Head of Growth at Supabase)
  • Paul Copplestone (Supabase Co Founder)
  • Theo Browne (Ping / YouTube / Twitch / Twitter)
  • Ian Livingstone (Startup Advisor / Investor)
  • Preston-Werner Ventures (Led by Tom Preston-Werner Co-Founder of GitHub)
  • George & Chris Perkins (James’ mum and dad)
  • Zain Allarakhia (ex Pipe)

How it all started

Andreas and I started Unkey in the middle of June and launched on June 21st, the community loved Unkey and we got some awesome feedback. Once we understood that this side project, which started as a way to solve an annoying problem we both had experienced, was needed by more and more people, we set our sights on building an entire business for it.

We worked nights and weekends for months to ensure Unkey made scaling user-facing APIs more accessible than ever. Shout out to all the friends and family who supported us getting through the 16+ hour days.

How's it going

Since the launch in June, we have had success with the product:

  • 1.2k stars on GitHub
  • We have done over 13 million API key verifications.
  • 1.6k users have signed up

What's next?

Now that Unkey is funded, we can focus on building the best developer experience in the API space. You may be wondering what is next.

  • Hiring 1-2 more engineers.
  • Create an easy-to-use permission system that allows you to control access through RBAC, ABAC, or REBAC.
  • Create a new gateway system that allows any developer to understand and configure.

Talking about hiring, if you are interested in being part of the team. Check out the job posting and apply.

Thank you for all the support, and we look forward to bringing API scalability to developers like never before.

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2500 verifications and 100K successful rate‑limited requests per month. No CC required.