Startups

Cherub, an angel investing community inspired by dating apps, entices investors and founders to pair up

Comment

Investors and founders can meet their match with Cherub, the 'Raya' of angel investing
Image Credits: Cherub

Jaclyn Johnson and Angeline Vuong were on a hike deliberating how hard it can be for people to get started in angel investing when they realized they had stumbled upon a startup idea. 

Today they are the co-founders of Cherub, a marketplace that pairs angel investors with entrepreneurs.

Vuong spent nearly five years working in product and growth at Opendoor. Johnson founded Create & Cultivate, a self-described “media company for ambitious women” and had experienced both sides of the investing world — as a founder and an investor. Before starting Create & Cultivate, Johnson sold her own startup (No Subject) in 2016 and invested in numerous companies, including luggage company Away. 

Johnson likens Los Angeles-based Cherub to Raya, an online membership-based community for dating, in that it matches founders and angel investors based on their preferences.

“You can go to this platform as an entrepreneur and you can go on the platform as an angel investor and get access to both people and express interest based on tags,” she said in an interview with TechCrunch. “So for instance, if I go on the app and I’m interested in women-owned businesses in the CPG space doing their Series A or something specific, I’ll get surface deal flow that is the highest match to what I’m looking for.”

With Cherub, investors and entrepreneurs can see who is interested in them on the back end. If they too are interested, they can indicate it as such and it’s a match. Conversely, if an investor approaches a founder but that founder doesn’t view them as a potential fit, they can reject the invitation to connect. Or if an entrepreneur’s minimum investment is $25,000 but an angel investor is only investing $10,000 per deal, they can see that and not reach out to connect.

“We’re sort of using dating app mechanics in a way,” Johnson said. “So we jokingly call it the Raya for deal flow.”

Membership-based

To test the concept for Cherub, Johnson and Voung last year first started a weekly newsletter that got 1,500 sign-ups within three weeks on word of mouth alone.

Encouraged, the pair built out an alpha product last summer that featured about 40 companies and gave investors a way to request a deck. All 40 got requests for deck views, Johnson said. Half of those deck views resulted in an introduction, she said, where investors expressed that they were interested in being pitched by the founder. Twenty percent of those introductions ended up getting funded in less than three months, collectively raising $1.1 million in capital.

Of those deals, 40% were new angel investors, meaning they were accredited investors that had never written checks before.

Cherub is now in the process of a slow launch, with 100 startups on the platform generating revenue of $50,000. They plan to grow that to 500, and have a waitlist of 1,500 startups, Johnson said.

Image Credits: Co-founders Jaclyn Johnson and Angeline Vuong / Cherub

Cherub is free for investors to use and charges startups via a membership model. A $480/year membership lets founders list their companies in the directory and includes analytics such as how many people viewed their deck. The Cherub Select membership costs $950 a year and involves a more vetted process to show the company more actively to investors, Johnson said.

Johnson said that Cherub also helps founders find incubators and accelerators and has partnerships with the associated incubators of firms such as Andreessen Horowitz, Dream Ventures and New York Fashion Tech Lab.

Investors also get access to data such as “updates on how a company is performing, whether they’re raising or not and how much,” Johnson said. 

Of course Cherub is not the only platform teaming up angels with entrepreneurs. AngelList is the biggest and best known. Israeli crowdsourcing firm OurCrowd is also huge, and then there are the ones offered by venture firms, like Hustle Squad’s Angel Squad for accredited investors, or others like Jason Calacanis’ The Syndicate.

But Cherub is different in a number of ways, Johnson says. For one, it features startups with an emphasis on consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies. Though it also includes AI companies, hotel projects and apps, among others.

AngelList is more of a B2B platform, is very tech industry centric and is best for those who already have knowledge or experience in startup investing and can afford to invest fairly sizable amounts, in Johnson’s view.

Then there’s crowdsourcing Wefunder or Republic, which will allow investors to invest tiny amounts, sometimes as little as $100, which Johnson describes as “the kickstarter of angel investing.” 

Cherub sits in the middle, she says. For instance, like traditional VC firms, the company hosts “founder-funder mixers.” Last year, for example, Cherub teamed up with Sophia Amoruso’s Trust Fund to host a cocktail party at which “every single thing on site was investable,” such as the drinks being served and featuring a pop-up shop where guests could “shop any products that they want to test drive.”

“From that event alone, over $400,000 in deals were generated,” Johnson said.

Angel investor Allen Orr told TechCrunch that he had used other platforms such as AngelList in the past.

“However, I felt that it was not a very personal experience and felt too transactional,” he told TechCrunch via email. “What appealed to me about Cherub was the idea of a tailored and social approach to investing,” he said, adding “I also liked that there are opportunities not just for investment but also advising brands.” 

Maggie Rose Macar, founder and CEO of mental health support app Zant, said an investor wrote a $25,000 check into her company after it was featured in one of the earliest versions of Cherub’s newsletters and after she met the investor in person at one of Cherub’s events.

“I think Cherub does a great job at bringing active investors into the room with founders who are looking,” she told TechCrunch.

Cherub has raised $1.25 million of its own, naturally from angels, including Drybar’s Alli Webb and Blavity’s Morgan DeBaun, among others.

More TechCrunch

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €284M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

1 day ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions