It’s been a busy Q4 in sunny SoFla! I invested in two new Miami-based startups and tripled-down on an existing investment. I think of myself of a contrarian in that I make picks others don’t. With these two picks I contradicted my own investment philosophies (no MarTech, no Media). Go figure!
Gramercy.io solves a big problem I see in my portfolio companies. And that’s growth through referrals. Fab.com — which did this brilliantly — saw huge growth from friends referring friends. I was fiendish about racking up referral wins on Fab.com. I wish Jason had productized his toolset. Why are referrals a problem? Developing a great refer-a-friend program with clear attribution, easy but detailed metrics and flexible campaign-building tools is a lot of work developers simply don’t want to do or don’t have time to do. Too many growth hackers hit this wall and opt to do Facebook or Google ads instead because its easier. Alex Nucci, the founder, learned all about this in his growth hacking job ClutchPrep and set out to build tools that make it easy to develop and manage word-of-mouth marketing programs. During the pitch, Alex told me his story and showed me what he’s built so far. I was impressed. But I couldn’t get there. SAAS is tough. MarTech SAAS is even tougher and I’ve been avoiding MarTech for awhile. Plus Ambassador is a well-funded competitor. So how did Alex get me to write a check? He showed me how scrappy and hungry he is by doing a very detailed referral program assessment of one of my portfolio companies. He went through every touchpoint that could be used to increase referrals and described how the company could do better at each point. It was a fantastic piece of work and it showed me how Alex gets his hands dirty tearing apart the UX to really understand where the impact points are. It also showed me he has that magic and rare trait called initiative. His assessment could be the basis for a very effective consultative selling approach. He got me “there” and I wrote a check. I’m in! A big thanks to Shawn Convery for the intro.
WhereBy.Us builds experiential media for the world’s curious locals. Huh?! WhereBy.Us puts an email (yes email!) in your inbox, daily, with great local news — what to do, what to don’t, where to eat. They encourage readers to “live like you live here.” If you live in Miami and you’re reading this, you’re probably a millennial, one of their 30K subs here and you know the company as TheNewTropic. You’ve come to rely on it for great stories like Nine Tips For Surviving The Art Basel Traffic Nightmare. They just raised a round to fund their expansion. Their newest market is Seattle where they launched TheEverGrey with a coloring book. The team is building local brands you just love and because you love them, advertisers love them. When I think of WhereBy.Us I think of Refinery29 (I’m an investor) and Thrillist (I wish I was an investor) — both properties that have a unique voice demonstrating a very tangible “feel” for their readers’ needs/desires. While I’m a big fan now it took me a while to get there. Media is hard. And Local is really hard so I had to hear the pitch three times before I got there. Chris, thanks for your patience! And a big thanks to AGP for the initial introduction !