Fundraising was once a formal process.
A decade ago, founders would make pilgrimages to the stodgy investor offices that line Sand Hill Road. Now, as the coronavirus ravages the world and venture capital grows as an asset class, a first “yes” can come from an investor-matching tool built on Notion, or an entire fund can come together over a Zoom call. In this era, Twitter DMs are better for deal flow than walking around a conference.
As startup-land becomes more informal, a new generation of early-stage founders is searching for ways to make the relaxed new world work in their favor. One way this is happening?
Meme culture as a signaling mechanism.
Before Gefen Skolnick, founder of Couplet Coffee, launched her company and Slack channel for underrepresented and underresourced groups in tech, she established credibility in a unique way.
Skolnick was part of the Eye Mouth Eye ( 👁👄👁) campaign that rocked Silicon Valley in June 2020. The cryptic effort was a statement on how FOMO and hype culture dominate venture capital conversations. Participants in the campaign changed their Twitter names, tweeted cryptically and earned more than 20,000 email subscribers for a product that did not even exist.
Skolnick says Eye Mouth Eye gave her a larger platform, which she’s leveraging by stepping up the pace of posting new content and launching products. She said the stunt gave her “sign-offs” from high-profile individuals, and investors have been blowing up her inbox.
“My fundraising experience has just been angel investors DMing me to tell me they’re investing,” she said.
Meme culture, she says, is the “best way the younger generation can showcase their insights, humor and commentary in a more digestible and shareable format.”