On first blush, founders building a coffee brand, a social networking app and a fintech-focused venture fund wouldn’t appear to have much in common. But at TechCrunch Disrupt, the founders, together on stage, credited their early success in raising venture capital to their use of social media platforms.
It’s an interesting and increasingly necessary ingredient. While one founder, Nik Milanović, who launched a small fintech-focused media company and an associated venture fund, happens to enjoy the kind of profile that VCs tend to notice (Stanford grad, biz dev experience at Google, white), the checks the other two founders raised are something of a statistical anomaly.
Gefen Skolnick, the founder of coffee brand Couplet Coffee, is a woman; just 2.4% of venture dollars flowed toward women-led companies in 2021. For a Black founder like Josh Ogundu, whose app Campfire invites users to create and share 30-second audio stories associated with pictures on their phones, the odds of getting a check were an even more abysmal 1.3% in 2021. (For Latin and Black women founders, the chances of receiving venture funding in 2021 were closer to zero.)
Though Ogundu and Skolnick made the point that going to esteemed schools and logging time at brand-name companies helped even the playing field (he attended both Michigan State and the University of Southern California and had a stint at TikTok; she attended UCLA and worked at Tesla, among other internships), all three suggested that savvy use of social media can do more than make it easier to connect with investors and customers — it can keep a founder and their brand relevant and accessible, too.