Atoms co-founder and CEO Waqas Ali. Photo by Nad E Al. Art by Mike Sullivan
March 18, 2022 6:00 AM PDT

After a two-year tech boom, startups are bracing for a downturn.

For Waqas Ali, co-founder and CEO of online shoe seller Atoms, that has meant trimming costs and arranging a last-minute cash infusion. In February, he stopped advertising on Instagram and Facebook, a key way Atoms reaches customers, and reduced spending on Google search ads by 50% to save his company up to $500,000 per month. Then in early March, he pulled together bridge financing—a small check meant to tide over a startup until it can raise a larger round—from existing investors including Initialized Capital.

Atoms hasn’t cut any of its staff of around a dozen people. But Ali said Atoms’ co-founder—his wife, Sidra Qasim—has been saying, “I told you we should have raised money in 2021.”

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