Connect bloggers with brands
Erin had grown her fashion blog, Reality Chic, to over 40k visitors a month and was being invited to NYC fashion week, writing for the Huffington Post (before everyone could) and was getting approach for partnerships with brands.
She, like other bloggers, didn’t know how valuable the partnerships with brands were, or how valuable they were to brands.
We believed that traffic and audience size alone didn’t make a good influencer partnership, and that what mattered was the engagement and social sharing of the post where the partnership happened.
We built an algorithm to calculate each posts value based on engagement, and then helped bloggers find brands to work with.
We also helped brands run their influencer marketing campaigns.
October 2011 - June 2014
How did it work out?
We grew Canopi to be one of the top 10 largest blogger networks in the US with 2,500 bloggers in the network who reached over 40M people per month.
We raised a little money and moved to Detroit Michigan for a startup accelerator.
We tried raising a true seed round post the accelerator but we were unsuccessful.
We did run marketing campaigns and generated ~ 40k of service revenue in a few months, but none of us were motivated to build that business.
What did you learn
Sexism in VC is real
We had countless meetings with investors where they only asked me questions even though Erin and Amy were the subject matter experts.
Investors invest in what they know or can see
Women bloggers in the areas of fashion, food, and parenting was not one for the people we talked to (and admittedly, we didn’t craft an easy enough picture for them to see.
The business matters more than the cool idea or technology
We were creating a startup technology that we were excited about, but the match matching blogger agent business (or marketing agency) wasn’t what we wanted to build.