Last month, having sold the assets of their latest startup, JungleCents, to its early investor, Mark Cuban, co-founders Sameer Mehta and Nadir Hyder took off to found a new venture. They brought with them what they said was one of the most important lessons they’d learned while building JungleCents — that the key to effective marketing, and those oft-elusive high conversion rates, is smart, editorial-driven content. And when you can get big-time influencers to help create that content, or at the very least, stamp it with their seal of approval? Serious engagement ensues … or so they believe.
That’s why, when the team offered a sneak peek at its new venture, 12Society, there was a big name on the co-founder roster: Tim “The Freak” Lincecum. For those unfamiliar, Lincecum is a 27-year-old starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, as well as a two-time Cy Young Award winner and a major contributor to the Giants’ World Series victory in 2010.
12Society is still in stealth mode, which means the team still isn’t saying much about what they’re up to, though CEO Sameer Mehta has said that the startup will be a guy-focused lifestyle company built on “the intersection of culture, technology and commerce.”
While this is purposefully vague, the co-founders said they want to create a better way for brands looking to target the 18- to 35-year-old male demographic and get them engaging, talking about, and sharing their products. So, what better way to do that then with editorial-driven content strategy led by big-name athletes — influencers that guys respect and look to for tips on gear, clothes, music, etc. (More in our initial coverage here.)
In March, the team said that they would be announcing further “big name” co-founders in the coming weeks, with more athletes in the mix. Today, 12Society unveiled its second co-founder (apparently there will be a total of six): long-time New York Giant, Super Bowl winner, and current media analyst on Fox NFL Sunday and others, Michael Strahan.
While few celebrity-founded startups have stood the test of time, 12Society is beginning to taking steps to ensure its longevity, adding Anthony Saleh of Atom Factory, Founder of Young and Restless Dee Murthy, and Mike Walsh of Rockstar Group (who is also an investor in Uber) as advisors.
And today, 12Society is announcing that it has raised a round of seed financing to help it accelerate towards its impending launch. The financial backing comes from Groupon co-founders (and Lightbank founding partners) Eric Lefkofsky, Paul Lee, and Brad Keywell, as well as Diego Berdakin, the co-founder of venture-backed social commerce startup, BeachMint.
Michael Broukhim, the VP of Customer Acquisition at BeachMint (and co-founder of MeetCharlie.com) and former SVP of Excite, CEO of Work.com, and co-founder of Recurrent Energy Don Hutchison are also investors. The amount of funding is undisclosed, but we’re hearing from sources that it was just north of $1 million.
12Society will be announcing a few more names in the coming weeks, with its official launch slated for sometime in May. For more, and to sign up for beta access, check the startup out at home here, or on AngelList here.