More founders are tapping creators and celebrities as early investors — beyond the cheques, they’re looking to access their networks and expertise. And now, Europe has its first creator-founded, creator-backed VC, Creator Ventures, which has raised $20m to invest globally alongside the likes of rappers and footballers.
Who’s leading Creator Ventures and who has backed it?
- The new fund is led by two founders, Sasha Kaletsky and Caspar Lee. Kaletsky most recently worked in private equity and had stints in consulting and at Uber. Lee was one of YouTube’s early stars (he still has more than 6m subscribers on his main channel) and is a serial entrepreneur.
- The fund started as a “side gig” when Kaletsky and Lee started sharing dealflow with Lee’s friends. “We became the go-to place to get creators on your cap table,” says Kaletsky.
- The fund has a variety of LPs, including family offices, fund-of-funds, founders and creators.
Where and how will Creator Ventures’s money be spent?
- The fund will invest $100k-500k in seed to Series A startups.
- The team wants to back companies in four areas:
- Consumer social (gaming, dating and social apps)
- Creator economy (the fund is keen on “front of house” tools that help creators get the word out and monetise, Kaletsky says)
- Ecommerce enablement
- Creator Ventures has already invested in 10+ startups around the world. In Europe, the team has backed esports platform FACEIT (acquired this year) and French dating app Feels. In the US, it’s backed luggage storage startup Bounce, which is also backed by General Catalyst and Andreessen Horowitz.
- The fund says it will also co-invest with celebrities and creators.
What does Creator Ventures have to say about working with celebrities and creators?
Lee says that the founders they speak to like that he’s a creator turned entrepreneur. “They like the idea that we understand the space which a lot of them now — especially in consumer social — need to understand when building businesses. They love how through us as a platform they can access various incredible creators and celebrities who can be such great value adds.”
Lee has a few tips for founders looking for VIP investors and creators looking to get more involved in investing.
“Creative people follow their guts, and that’s great,” he says, but can mean they don’t get the same returns as an investor doing more rigorous due diligence. His advice to creators and celebrities: “Be super careful when you invest, and just because you love something, doesn’t mean it's a great business.”
And he suggests founders don’t mandate creator-investors to do certain things — like posting or talking about the company — when they invest. “Keeping an organic relationship always drives the creator to overdeliver,” he says. “It’s actually one of the truest forms of influencer marketing in my opinion.”
It’s encouraging to see how the universe of savvy, experienced people investing in startups is increasing — and that includes creators. But as I sift through the 100th press release talking about a footballer becoming an angel investor in a startup, it's easy to wonder how those creators and celebrities actually analyse the risks involved in the startups they back.
In that sense, a fund like Creator Ventures — with a track record and dedicated team — can be an important conduit. And it’s also just generally fun to see people with different backgrounds getting into investing — it should translate to more companies that might not have caught the eye of traditional investors getting a chance at backing.