Getting Creative about Early-stage Funding – From IOUs to Side Hustles

by: | Aug 24, 2017

We’ve all heard stories about entrepreneurs raising $1 million in seed funding based on an idea sketched out on a napkin. Sounds amazing, but how do you get that funder meeting in the first place? And what happens when your product still needs some fine-tuning and validation? Or what if you’re more focused on social impact than runaway profits? Or if the market itself is still being defined? More often than not, this is the case for early-stage entrepreneurs, especially in the impact space, and it can make securing early stage capital challenging and unpredictable.

The “Pioneer Gap” — a term coined by Monitor-Deloitte and the Acumen Fund in 2012 — describes the lack of funders ready and willing to invest in “pioneering” business models for social change.“Although excited by their novelty, investors are often rattled by these firms’ risk profiles and are unimpressed by their financial returns.” In other words,

Getting Hiring Right – Tips from Founders

by: | Aug 17, 2017

As an entrepreneur, if you could guarantee that you would make excellent decisions in exactly one realm, what should it be? The answer is: Hiring and firing.

Recently, half a dozen entrepreneurs who have been funded by New Media Ventures over the past 6 years got together to host a “FailCon”.  They shared the biggest mistakes they had made and what lessons they took from them early on. Turns out, almost every single one of them shared a mistake they had made around hiring and firing.

Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman has been working with NMV’s newest cohort of entrepreneurs to help them navigate the rapids of early-stage startups. She’s put together two great Medium posts on hiring & firing and how the right job description can help your org meet its diversity and inclusion goals. Check them out, and let us know what you think!

Raising Money 101 – Tips for Progressive Startups from Successful Founders

by: | Jul 19, 2017

This year, New Media Ventures is investing in more and earlier-stage startups than ever before, and we want these amazing founders to have everything they need to succeed. But how do we make sure we’re solving the right problems? In the spring, we hired Deena Rosen, user experience expert extraordinaire, to do some research for us. We sent her on the (virtual) road to talk with founders, entrepreneurs and accelerators to get the dirt: Where did they struggle? What did they wish they had known when they first started out? What kind of help would have really, you know, helped?

Here are a few things that we heard loud and clear: 

  • It’s hard for first-time founders to get trained on the basics and find safe places (read: judgment free zones) to build skills and up their game.
  • Being an entrepreneur is HARD,

Apply for the New Tools Showcase @ Netroots Nation!

by: | Jul 05, 2017

We’re thrilled to be partnering once again with Netroots Nation on the New Tools Showcase, scheduled to make its return this August when Netroots Nation takes Atlanta by storm. Applications close next week on July 14, so apply now!

This is your chance to (re)introduce your voting, campaigning, or make-the-world-a-better-place technology solution to the Netroots community. Got a product, app or feature you want to tell the world about? Just click here to submit your idea for entry.

During the New Tools Showcase, selected presenters will have 5 minutes to make a live pitch. Attendees will then vote on their Favorite New Feature/Product, Most Innovative Use of Technology, and Favorite Startup Technology. We’ll also select an Overall Winner for Best New Organizing Tool.

Winners will be announced at the event and receive a shout-out on Netroots Nation social media during our Convention,

Funding the Resistance with $1M to Tech & Media Startups Driving Progressive Change

by: | Jun 20, 2017

[UPDATED February 2018: We have invested an additional $2 million in the Resist & Rebuild portfolio and mobilized another $1 million in individual investments and grants – bringing the total dollars mobilized to this cohort to $4 million. You can read more here]

We are excited to announce that we have committed $1 million to a new cohort of progressive startups working at the intersection of tech, media, and politics.

After receiving more than 500 applications during our “Resist and Rebuild” open call for funding (up from 100 last year!), we narrowed down the field to 17 and are delighted to be investing in the following startups:

  • AerialSpaces: a full-service virtual event SaaS platform helping orgs & brands of all sizes reach global audiences in mass
  • Amplify: a mobile app for grassroots groups that gets members in the habit of taking their group’s recommended actions and cheering each other on
  • Daily Action: an SMS-based app empowering >270k citizens to call Congress with a quick swipe of the phone
  • Flippable: turning America blue by building a movement to flip states
  • Hustle: working to scale &

Julie @ PDF17: Three Things Funders Have to Let Go Of, In Addition To Their Money

by: | Jun 12, 2017

This year, I was excited to speak from the main stage at the 2017 Personal Democracy Forum in New York, urging investors and donors to become bridge-builders in order to meet this extraordinary political moment. In this video of my talk, I argue that funders need to think more like grassroots activists and venture capitalists. Bottom line: if venture capital can invest $120M to reinvent juice, surely we can raise $30M to save our democracy.


500 Applications to Resist & Rebuild

by: | May 01, 2017

NMV’s “Resist and Rebuild” Open Call closed in March, and we were eager to know whether the energy we’ve seen on the national stage would translate into a boost in applications. The verdict is in: we received a record-breaking 500 applications – almost twice as many as our last open call!

From filter bubbles and misinformation to storytelling and new models for journalism, this year’s applicants are really swinging for the fences. We’ve been impressed by the variety of inspiring projects, and see some early themes emerging. 

Can We Make Media Better? We See Reason to Hope.

by: | Apr 27, 2017

I took a break from social media and the news for two full weeks during the holidays. It was amazing.

When I got back online, I was struck — more than ever before — by how depressing much of the media I consume is. What am I supposed to do or feel when I read “Donald Trump just said this crazy thing (again)” or “fire/avalanche/gunman kills a bunch of people”?

Most of the media these days leaves me feeling angry, scared or helpless. Sometimes all three at once. And I know I’m not the only one.

Of course, this has been true for a long time, and many people ranging from Spark News (where I had my first internship!) and the Solutions Journalism Network have been working to make progress. But — as my colleague Christie outlined in her article about how media and social media undermined our democracy in this past election — rarely have the challenges of media been on starker display than they are today.