A livestreaming platform that lets people enjoy concerts together while at home walked away as the winner of dot.LA's first Startup Pitch tournament.
The brainchild of UCLA business school graduates — one of whom lost his job in the music events industry during the pandemic — Crewtify is one of a number of livetreaming platforms that have bubbled up to solve an immediate need: connecting musicians with their fans during the COVID era and beyond.
Pitch: Social Cipher<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="50e36cbc9f5a5b063e8458fca9456bbd"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AcP5hUsSQyE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Finding an engaging curriculum for neurodivergent youth is difficult, especially in this age of online learning. Vanessa Castañeda Gill, co-founder and CEO of <a href="https://www.socialciphergame.com/" target="_blank">Social Cypher</a>, explained that her experience growing up with autism helped her to realize the lack of learning tools for neurodivergent youth. Even today, programming and curriculum is out of touch, patronizing or unengaging. Much of the learning tools for this market are focused on 'fixing' young learners, said the company's CEO.<br></p><p>"Now, I know it was problem because, well, I lived it," said Gill. "Over the years, though, I learned that I never actually needed to be fixed. I just needed a different way to learn. And that's how I founded Social Cypher."</p><p>Social Cypher is a social emotional learning (SEL) platform with a partner app marketed toward counselors and educators in the neurodivergent space. Social Cypher's primary product is a game called "Ava," which immerses students with autism into a fictional world where they are a space pirate, and have to make decisions regarding the people and situations they encounter. Meanwhile, the companion app helps counselors remotely stream gameplay and track social and emotional progress.</p><p>Social Cypher will be piloting in January and is currently raising a pre-seed funding round.</p>
Pitch: Have | Need<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="606f2f0ddccb87da007c277e52669789"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fOLZxe5o2BI?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p><a href="https://www.haveneed.org/" target="_blank">Have | Need</a> is an app that empties garages, but not wallets. It's the first consumer multi-party barter platform for goods and services. Unlike Ebay or OfferUp, users never use cash — they trade their items for other things they need, sometimes in a large chain of trades, called "barter loops." </p><p>Founder and CEO Josh Cline explained how Have | Need organizes these trades so that more people can offer what they want and get what they need.</p><p>"Legacy barter doesn't scale because it depends on what is known as the mutual coincidence of wants. That means each of the two parties must have something the other wants, and that is rare," he said. "<span style="background-color: initial;"></span>Have | Need, however, can match the haves and needs of a limitless number of people, creating barter opportunities that were not previously possible."</p><p>Moving beyond a two-person trade into a chain of trades exponentially increases the available possibilities of getting what you need with what you have. In the middle of a pandemic, he added, many are reckoning with just how much stuff they have, and many who have lost their jobs may not have cash on hand to get what they need.</p><p>Their target user base is in the billions. "Basically anyone with a smartphone that has more than they need or needs more than they have will benefit from Have | Need."</p><p>Have | Need is launching next month, and will be open to the public early next year. They are also currently raising a pre-seed funding round.</p>
Pitch: Crewtify<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb4789cc48636e772846a0e0ec1098dc"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fjm4ScUzK7o?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Now, more than ever, it's clear that the future of music is online. <a href="https://www.crewtify.com/" target="_blank">Crewtify</a> makes in-person events accessible to individuals or groups who can't make it to the event. </p><p>David Gukasyan, CEO and co-founder, introduced Crewtify, a subscription model online community platform for music events. Using this platform, fans have unlimited access to watch and participate.</p><p>Beyond the pandemic, it's likely event organizers will still host online events, said Gukasyan, because barriers that have always been present, like cost, distance, and limited space remain. </p><p>Post-COVID, he expects a hybrid system to emerge as event organizers continue broadcasting shows online for online communities. "Crewtify provides the live music experience to fans in the comfort of their own homes. It also allows you to break from the party, into private rooms, to chat or match with other users."</p><p>At the moment, Crewtify has 2,000 users and plenty of user-generated content. Later they hope to build exclusive artist partnerships, and community and network effects.</p>
It seems everyone wants to be a VC these days, so why can't the Chainsmokers join the line-up?
Earlier this year, the electronic DJ and production duo, Alex Pall and Drew Taggart, announced the debut of their $35 million early-stage fund.
Being a DJ and a startup VC would appear to have little in common, but at a lunchtime panel on the first day of the dot.LA Summit, the pair said there are actually a number of parallels.
"We built the Chainsmokers from nothing and so we think of ourselves as founders, too," said Taggart, who added that personal chemistry is key in both music and startups. "The luckiest thing was to meet each other."
I have long been a proponent of going public because I believe it creates stronger, more disciplined companies that deliver greater shareholder value. It's great to see the pendulum in the founder and venture capital community swinging away from the "stay private longer" attitude that dominated tech over the last decade.
That said, the traditional IPO listing path has many shortcomings. I experienced this firsthand in 2011 when we took Zillow public. The cover price on the original S-1 was $12-$14 a share, but we upped it to $14-$16 due to strong demand on the IPO roadshow. We priced it at $20 a share, only to watch the first trade open at $60 that day. (Note: Zillow has since done a 3-for-1 stock split, so divide these numbers by three if you're trying to compare it with today's ~ $100 stock price.)
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