Social Starts is a $20M+ venture fund family. We support entrepreneurs whose companies serve the Social Construct, that change in human behavior generated by social/mobile technology. We invest at the moment of inception and Series A in 5 primary areas: media, marketing analytics, social platforms, mobile commerce and Internet of Things software. Our team has developed dominant media, research and tech companies in the 3 modern tech revolutions – PC, Internet and Social. Our portfolio companies benefit from the resulting rich perspective and world-class connections, a mutually supportive community of more than 130 fellow start-ups, and support from our LPs, who include leading figures in software development, marketing and media from 3 continents.
Social Starts Moment of Inception funds seek to be present at the creation of the most disruptive and valuable businesses in:
• Marketing Analytics
• Social Platforms
• Mobile Commerce
• Internet of Things Software
SSLP1, our first Moment of Inception Fund, has a 2012 vintage and has completed its investment phase with 82 investments. SSLP3, our second Moment of Inception Fund, began investing in July 2014.
Social Starts 2 invests in the subset of Social Starts' early stage investments and other companies that have demonstrated real market momentum because they fulfill a key human need, and have the ability to scale to a position of dominance in their space. SSLP2 focuses in the social revolution, and particularly media, marketing analytics, social platforms, mobile commerce and Internet of Things software, but will invest outside those areas when the metrics of an opportunity are clearly outstanding.
William Lohse is a leading early stage investor and has been successful in media, from software, to print publishing, Web 1.0, 2.0, and now Social. He is best known as the president of Ziff Davis Publishing and founder and CEO of SOFTBANK Forums. He began in tech in 1976 with IMSAI Microcomputers, and he founded an early software company, Timeline, which was sold to Symantec. William is also the founder of The TomorrowProject, LLC, producer of the Pivot Conference, and the founder of Software Venture Partners, an angel fund which has been investing in technology startup companies for almost 25 years, and has been one of the earliest and most active Angel investors in the emerging Social Construct.
Mike Edelhart, is a pioneering media and Internet start-up executive. Mike became widely known in tech circles as the original Executive Editor of PC Magazine and founding editor of other Ziff-Davis computer magazines, as well as the Ziff testing lab, testing software, and other operations.Mike rose to be the Executive Vice President of Ziff-Davis. In addition to his Social Starts role, Mike leads The Tomorrow Project, LLC, our companion operating company, which produces The Pivot Conference focused on big brands coping with the Social Construct. Mike was Managing Director and founder of First30 Services, a launch accelerator for early stage companies. He has held CEO and executive management positions at a range of start-ups and tech companies, including Olive Software, Inman News, Zinio, and Third Age Media. Mike was a partner at Redleaf, a VC firm. Earlier in this career, at SoftBank, Mike directed content for the Seybold, Interop and Comdex conferences and launched new businesses. He has also worked as an Internet strategies consultant to Bloomberg, Reuters, AARP and other major media and Internet companies.The author of more than 25 books, Mike earned a Bsc in journalism from the University of Northern Colorado
Kevin Dasch has 18 years of experience in technology and spent the last decade working in social media and gaming. He was most recently Chief Operating Officer of Spredfast, Inc. where he was responsible for integrating Mass Relevance and Spredfast after their merger. Kevin became CFO of Mass Relevance in early 2012, leading finance, operations, legal, HR and corporate development, helping the company scale from 20 to 160 employees in two years. Prior, he spent five years at IMVU first as VP, Finance and Business Development, then as Chief Revenue Officer, which he helped grow revenue 10x during his tenure. Kevin also spent seven years at Dell, the last two of which were leading the company’s Corporate Strategy Group, reporting to the Office of the CEO. Kevin also led marketing for Dell’s $4 billion Consumer and Small Business private label financing portfolio and was a consultant in Dell’s Corporate Development Group. Before Dell, Kevin was a management consultant with I/S/O Health Care Group, now a division of Monitor. Kevin earned a B.A. in History from Princeton University and an M.B.A. in Finance and Accounting from The McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. Kevin is an avid reader of American history, a fan of the Texas Longhorns, and a very amateur golfer.
Joanne Wan is a leading digital marketing executive who has been deeply entrenched with emerging technology and startups for over 12 years. She has extensive experience in marketing, social media, C-level conference production and business development. For four years, she was Vice President at Social@Ogilvy and led teams in San Francisco, Shanghai and Hong Kong to create social media marketing strategy for global brands and execute innovative digital programs. Prior to Ogilvy, she was Director of Marketing and Business Development at GigaOM and worked closely with entrepreneurs and media platforms. She also launched multiple sold-out 600-person influencer conferences for GigaOM. In addition, Joanne is a professional photographer focused on portrait, food and lifestyle photography. She holds a BA in Psychology from The University of California, Berkeley.
Seth has over 20 years of experience in media and technology, including executive positions in both start-up companies and large enterprises in positions across finance, marketing, business development, technology and general management. In addition to running a number of start-up businesses, Seth has operated his own consulting firm for clients focused on go-to-market strategy, operations and business development. He has extensive experience in social media, marketing technology and enterprise software. Previously, Seth also held senior positions at Interwoven, Optimost, Bluefish Wireless, PocketScience and Ziff-Davis. He also began his career as an investment banker. Seth holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He is also an elected School Board Member of the San Carlos (CA) School District.
Bob Wu was previously at Ziff Brothers Investments for 7+ years investing in multiple asset classes and managing a $1 billion+ portfolio. Prior to that he worked as an investment banker in Shanghai, China structuring Pre-IPO technology companies. In his free time he teaches financial literacy to high school students through Junior Achievement (JA). He holds a BA in International Relations (Global Business) from the University of Southern California.
Charles Smith has been an active NY angel investor since the mid-1990s who has invested in more than a dozen companies, and has worked for and sat on the boards of ten more. He founded Extension Entertainment, a social music discovery platform. He is the owner of The Ineo Group LLC. Charles spent three years as the Vice President of Etsy Inc., was Vice President of Sales at Tacoda and Executive Vice President of Corporate Development and Planning at RealMedia.
Jun Li is a Senior Vice President of Beyondsoft and managing partner of Beyondsoft's US Startup investment. She has over 16 years industry experience in enterprise software and Services. Previously, Jun led Beyondsoft's US Strategic Account Business Group, growing revenue from $3 million to $65 million, building and leading a high performance team of over 2000 people. Her Microsoft Practice team received the 2014 Global Preferred Supplier Excellence Award. Jun often consults Fortune 500 companies and startups on their China go-to-market strategy. Before joining Beyondsoft, she worked at Microsoft and CompareNet. Jun is also a long-time member of the Tsinghua Entrepreneur and Executive Club (TEEC), mentoring and contributing to the startup communities in both US and China.
Jim Louderback is currently advising startups, working with larger organizations on their media and technology strategies and curating the Industry track of Vidcon 2015 as editorial director. In 2007 Jim became CEO of Revision3, and led the startup to a 20-fold increase in viewers, a 12x increase in revenue, 39 new distribution partners and 9 prestigious company and show awards. In 2012 he sold the company to Discovery Communications and led the integration of the company into Discovery. During his two and a half years at Discovery he launched and acquired 6 new networks, and transformed the group into Discovery Digital Networks, which he ran as General Manager. Prior to that, Jim spent 16 years in increasingly senior media and technology management roles – leading startups, growth businesses and turnarounds. He most recently served as senior vice president and chief content officer for Ziff Davis Media’s Consumer group, along with being Editor in Chief of PC Magazine. Jim was also a senior member of the launch team at cable network ZDTV, and guided its transformation into TechTV. He also ran editorial operations at special-interest newspapers and magazines.
A Plus is a digital media company co-founded by Ashton Kutcher that features stories that make a difference and create positive change.
Active Theory turns cardio machine workouts into video game experiences through integrating iPhones or iPads to exercise equipment such as stationary bikes, ellipticals, or treadmills.
Adaptly is changing the way brands increase engagement on social networks by helping them harness the unique value of each social network. It offers one consolidated platform to complete a social media ad buy across multiple social networks including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and more.
Adelphic Mobile enables the buying and selling of targeted mobile media at scale through its powerful and intelligent Predictive Data Platform.
Aevena is building next-generation fully autonomous consumer robots.
Affinio’s social-affinity engine analyzes billions of network connections to uncover audience insights no one else can see.
Provides brands, retailers, and resorts with an end-to-end platform for mobile consumer engagement
Ambassador is the best way to reward your customers for promoting your products online. Ambassador provides an end-to-end solution: you can create, track and manage all your custom referral programs from a single dashboard.
Anvato is object recognition video identification for copyright management and contextual ad placement. Member of New York Angel Investors.
Battlefy is a turn-key platform for game publishers, players, and brands to create and manage eSports competition and content.
Bay Sensors deploys inexpensive sensors in retail environments to capture physical-world big data.
Beacon Reader allows readers a way to support and get access to high quality journalismthrough a unique and powerful form of crowdfunding.
BestVendor helps find, through peers and contacts, the best work software applications to get things done.
Beyond Games is focused on developing extremely high fidelity, AAA games catered to the core market on smartphone & tablet devices. The founding team consists of veterans across console and mobile gaming including NaturalMotion & Lucas Arts.
Big Frame is a media company that provides marketing and production resources for YouTube Infleuncers, and creates video advertising campaigns that reach the right audience next to premium content.
Bottlenose measures what the world is paying attention to in real-time on social networks. The company provides next-generation social listening, analytics and engagement tools for marketers and enterprises.
Forget long lines, hassles and backaches. Boxed has all your favorite big box sized products at pint-sized prices. Save on time, gas and membership fees while shopping for items you use every day - all shipped to your door.
Buddy lets you focus on the people you care most about and helps you remember all of their important moments.
Cassia makes the first Bluetooth router in the world and works with partners to develop the related solutions that will revolutionize the way people consume music and interact with various smart things and wearable devices at home.
The world has moved beyond text. Our platform makes searching AV files simple for developers to integrate into their applications
Cloe is an on demand SMS concierge service that provides users with curated recommendations
Clover on-demand dating is the fastest way to meet new people. Simply tell us where and when and we’ll find you a great date.
CoachMePlus provides athlete management systems for professional sports teams, collegiate sports teams, and personal trainers and gyms.
CodeFights.com is where developers learn while they have fun. It’s a real-time social game that challenges your programming skills.
comiXology delivers a cloud-based digital comics platform that was one of iTunes top 10 grossing iPad apps in both 2011 and 2012. If offers the broadest library of comic book content from the top 75 publishers.
Contastic is the simple CRM system that knows who you need to follow up with and generates emails with personalized content for you to send to remain relevant.
CrowdAlbum is building a visual history of the world's events and uses data from the content to help the people behind these events identify, understand and connect to the audience and influencers that made them happen.
DigitalPersona is a global provider of strong authentication and access management solutions.
DJZ is an online electronic dance music festival, featuring the best djs, all the time.
Earbits is a performance based advertising platform where artists and record labels bid on a pay-per-stream basis for radio airtime, and use the exposure to acquire new fans and market their music and live events.
Ekho is a digital advertising development platform designed to simplify, extend and enhance native advertising opportunities for brands.
Elite Daily is an online destination that offers peer-to-peer interactions of world news, finance, sports, culture and all things luxury.
Epic! is the only place to access thousands of high quality, curated children's books without the need to purchase or download them one by one.
Everyday Health is a leading provider of online health information. We’re here to help you manage your own and your family’s conditions and overall well-being through personalized advice, tools, and communities.
Empowers health care providers and everyday people to increase health through a rewards system.
Fabric inspires you to do more of what you love by swiping through 100’s of fun, daily curated packs of movies, TV, music and travel and connects you to people like you.
FanFueled is a peer-to-peer shopping community where people go to learn about products and experience from people they know, trust and can place in context. FanFueled shares the revenue generated from the community with members based on how their contributions influence revenue.
Fashion Project is the industry leader in online clothing donation.
Fitocracy is a social network that empowers and motivates you to reach your fitness goals through gamification, community, and personal guidance. Whether you've never exercised a day in your life or you're an advanced athlete, Fitocracy can help you take you to your next level of fitness.
Hapyrus raises the value of query-able Big Data, anywhere from the cloud.
FOCUS is the parent company of TRAINR, the first fitness software that can auto-quantify your training workouts by utilizing wrist sensors. FOCUS is building the next generation of quantified-self fitness devices to track, evaluate, and guide resistance and sport specific training. FOCUS also provides a virtual trainer environment, permitting users to receive ongoing personal and professional feedback to reach their fitness goals.
The smart, sophisticated news,culture and lifestyle content curation property for young, digital native men.
Granify employs big data and machine learning technologies to enable online retailers to enhance their sales via a SaaS-based solution
Greenhouse gives leaders the power to change their organization and deliver outstanding results through better hiring.Our software goes above and beyond applicant tracking, providing a comprehensive recruiting performance improvement system.
Grovo is the quickest, simplest training platform for digital and professional skills
Hakka Labs helps companies reach the most challenging passive engineering candidates by enabling them to build long-term relationships with engineers over the life of their careers.
Healthguru is the leading provider of health video on the web. We leverage the tremendous power of video to communicate complex medical information effectively to create value for our users and an effective communication channel for our advertisers.
HeartThis is creating the world's largest social shopping site where you can discover products and people that match your individual style.
The founder of dominant Social marketing platform Lithium, and the founder of move review platform Rotten Tomatoes, have joined to start a next generation mobile games platform. We invested alongside a who’s who of gaming and Silicon Valley royalty.
Ideal Me is a social marketplace designer. It helps users sort through the abundance of information and products online in the self-improvement category.
Idealab is a business incubator providing capital, resources and advice for tech startup.
IRIS.TV delivers relevant content in a television-like experience, personalized to each viewer's interests.
We’ve pioneered a new mobile gaming category offering real world rewards, everyday to smartphone
Tracks Media, Inc. now Kanvas Labs is building a network of mobile-first social networks.
Knowledge Adventure is an early children’s educational software company.
Lazerow Ventures, LLC – Investment Company
Helps local sports organizations better manage and grow their sports programs while bringing teams and participants closer to their passion for sports.
Loop captures customer reactions “in the moment” with the latest in mobile and cloud technology.
The leading enterprise communication solution. Mobile messaging that's built for business: instant, secure and keeps everyone accountable
Lucky Sort is building a Big Data visualization and navigation engine called TopicWatch for exploring emergent patterns in live text streams. TopicWatch equips analysts to explore and dissect the Big Picture by visualizing news, comments, and social media. It transforms the burden of text overload into an opportunity for insightful and actionable information.
Mashable is the leading media company for the Connected Generation and the voice of digital culture. Reporting on the importance of digital innovation, Mashable empowers and inspires its readers around the globe.
Mass Relevance develops and offers cloud-based software for media and entertainment sectors
MeowChat is a fun way to chat and meet new friends via mobile devices. Users get matched instantly with new people nearby or around the world and can jump instantly into a random 1-on-1 or group chat. Based in England, MeowChat has exploded to become the Number 1 app in the UK ITunes store, and is now headed into the US market.
MinoMonsters is an mobile gaming studio that develops brands. Its first product is MinoMonsters, a hit monster collecting and battling game for iPhone.
mNectar is the leader and pioneer in mobile application virtualization and cloud delivery. We are simplifying, automating, and transforming how consumers discover and engage with mobile applications. mNectar's Playable allows consumers to instantly play, use, and sample mobile apps
Award-winning original web series. Comedy. Music. Smart and funny videos from the best comedians, actors and musicians.
Nestio offers landlords, brokers, and renters the ability to manage and communicate information in real-time, all in one place.
NewsWhip keeps newsrooms and brands ahead of the curve by instantly identifying the content being shared by 2 billion people, worldwide
At NimbleDroid, we’re inventing cutting-edge technology and tools to redefine how developers and their teams craft awesome apps.
Ocho is a social video platform re-imagining how we see and share our world. Ocho supports full screen, short-form videos captured and shared from a mobile device, and easily consumed across screens
Optimal helps brands and advertisers manage social advertising campaigns in real-time with its media acquisition and optimization platform and proprietary analytics tool
Mobile technology platform with proprietary, cookie-less tracking system that enables targeting, retargeting and attribution on mobile.
Pinterest can organize and display what you love. Growing as fast as Facebook did in its day.
PocketGM aims to revolutionize the fantasy sports industry by creating a seamlessly integrated platform that bridges the traditional season-long experience with an innovative daily option. PGM will enable the 39 million current fantasy players to compete head to head with new or existing teams while capitalizing on the social & competitive nature of sports.
Povio is an iPhone and Android communication app that enables users to upload and ping “Point-Of-View” photos upon the request of friends.
Qu is a mobile app which lets you ask short yes/no questions, anonymously (Quora meets Tinder).
Reachli is the easiest way to market visual content across the web.
Mobile centric CRM solutions for the restaurant industry.
RentHop is a web platform that provides users with an apartment-search web facility.
Scroon is a cross-European, cross-technology platform for mobile video, based in Paris.
On mobile, screenshots are becoming the go-to visual bookmark. We built a simple tool to make these screenshots actionable. When brands use ShopRoll to publish on Instagram and Snapchat, users can screenshot the posts, then open our mobile app where they can buy with one tap
Shots is a mobile application that allows its users to stay connected with their friends in a safe and powerful global community.
Sidelines is a social network for sports fans that lets users follow their favorite teams and share opinions, photos, videos and articles with their friends and other fans
SimpleReach aggregates and analyzes real-time data across social media to identify what content is driving traffic and where paid distribution dollars are best spent. The company offers big data solutions for web content providers.
SmartNews, based in Tokyo, is an award-winning Internet news aggregation/ curation app which enables users to read trending news articles in a customized and convenient manner through its instinctive interface.
SocialFlow helps brands, publishers and retailers identify and capture value from Twitter and Facebook.
SocialRank helps brands find out more information about the people that follow them on social networks, starting with Twitter.
A cyber security company with innovative, patented isolation technology to prevent browser-borne malware attacks
strongDM monitors real-time data errors and anomalies to add confidence to your data-driven decisions
Stratifyd provides a data-driven visual analytics platform to augment human's ability to mine actionable insights from heterogenous textual data.
The Tap Lab is a location-based gaming studio that publishes mobile games with a real-world twist.
Thinglink is an image engagement tool that lets users add clickable tags to web images and share the tagged images on social networks.
Build the world's largest online Anime & Cosplay community.Curate the best Anime content!
Trial Pay is a B2B alternative payment platform for the Internet.
TripleLift is an advertising solution that identifies and amplifies images for the visual web.
Based on a panel of thousands of consumers and their real-time credit/debit card transactions, TXN provides competitive intelligence, letting merchants understand where, why, and when their customers shop elsewhere.
Vantage is the premiere analytics service for sports players, teams and media
VaporChat is a free smartphone messaging app that gives you total control and protection over how you chat! Vapor any sent text, photo or entire chats and instantly remove them from your phone AND the other person’s phone at any time! Control what can be copied or saved. Screenshot protection. Nothing stored!
Vid.iq is an audience development suite helping brands gain viewers and subscribers organically with video.
Vingle, a social networking site with a pinboard-style interface, allows users to create collections and follow the collections of others
Waldo is a window into your best friends’ lives via smarphones – making sure you’re always in the loop with the people you care most about
Linked In meets Tinder, a platform for finding business colleagues to meet with on mobile, based on your criteria.
Weaver is a mobile app that allows users to express themselves creatively and enhance their online activity with expressive illustration
Zemanta is an online service for automatic enhancement of textual content.
Software Defined Security for the Internet-of-Things (IoT)
This explosion of connected devices will shatter the way the worldwide network and the software that operates it work.
As an investor focused primarily on moment-of-inception investing, I have to recognize that size isn’t what matters
Mike Edelhart of Pivotcon and the Art of Innovation
Today’s Social Construct is the product of the emergence and near ubiquity of social and mobile technologies.
The question: Who says advertising will have, or even deserves, a future?
Historic shifts in business fundamentals don’t occur smoothly; rather they happen in sudden, sharp shifts…
The objectives of the EIT Awards are to promote innovation and encourage entrepreneurship
Affinio segments any social audience by analyzing the interests, affinities, and social connections of each user to develop a social DNA profile for every user.
The company helps marketers such as Burger King, Victoria’s Secret, Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Houston Rockets create digital stickers, emojis
We brought the emotion of watching sport together with friends on the stage at the SportsTech Pitch competition
Remember those charming smartphone ads a few years ago where people held conversations with Siri…
Floyd Mayweather knows a marketing opportunity when he sees one.