February 23, 2024


Startup aims to solve the dating problem

Naja Shelley, an attorney living in Washington, DC, was frustrated with using dating apps, saying they weren’t focused on professional black women — so she created her own app. In 2018, he founded CarpeDM, a dating service app that adds a personal touch with a dedicated human matchmaker. The cost ranges between $300 and $1,800 per year, depending on the services and length of subscription.

To initially start her business, she sold her condo, depleted her savings and raised money from friends and family.

The startup received its largest investment in 2022 from Portland, Oregon-based Elevate Capital, a venture capital fund that invests in underrepresented entrepreneurs, including women, Blacks, Latinos, other people of color, the LGBTQ+ community or those with access to capital. Including those with limited regional access. ,

Pair up at a dating event for CarpedDM members at the DC Club, headquartered in Washington, DC

stephanie smoke

“That’s how we got our seed capital, which was very important because dating apps really need funding to take off successfully,” Shelley said.

That larger capital influx provided more money to invest in marketing, technology, and hiring matchmakers. The increase in paying clients and building relationships with investors has helped the company raise additional funding and gain access to valuable advisors.

“I love this category, it really brings joy to people when they find great matches,” said Steve Coffer, founder and former CEO of TripAdvisor, which recently invested in Carpediem. “When I find investments where I feel my experience can add value, they generally become my favorites.”

What to consider when investing in startups?

Addressing racial and gender-based wealth disparity in investment advice inspired Jason Ray to start his own wealth management firm in 2019.

“We’ve found that people who have ambitious goals and want to achieve a better financial future don’t have access to high-quality advice,” said Ray, president and chief investment officer of Zenith Wealth Partners in Philadelphia.

Many of the company’s clients are interested in investing in early-stage companies to reduce stock market volatility and potentially increase overall returns.

Most startup founders initially receive funding from friends and family. Once a startup starts seeking funds, funders must be accredited investors. Individuals can generally become accredited with $200,000 of annual earned income or $300,000 for married couples. Individuals or couples with a total net worth of at least $1 million, not including the value of their primary residence, may also qualify.

If clients want to invest, Ray says it’s important to understand the risks – the investments will be “illiquid”, meaning you may not use the money for several years. You too can never make a profit. According to Harvard Business Review, two-thirds of startups never show positive returns.

To evaluate whether to invest in a startup, Ray says investors should know how the company operates and what its competitive advantage is. They should evaluate the management team and its track record and most importantly, understand the terms of the investment.

“If the valuation of the company is too high, and as an investor you’re not getting enough rights, ownership or control or whatever, it may not be the right deal for you,” Ray said.

‘We’ll just keep climbing’

Even as startup funding has slowed, Elevate Capital plans to launch a new venture fund in the next few months, expanding its support for diverse entrepreneurs into new sectors.

“Like mountain goats, we’ll just keep climbing and we’ll keep doing it,” said Nitin Rai, founder and managing partner of Elevate Capital.

Meanwhile, Ray believes that just like the stock market, early-stage investing will continue to have its ups and downs. Still, he says, “the graph definitely looks like it’s up and to the right, and people will continue to invest in and support businesses run by Black people and people of color.”

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Source: www.cnbc.com

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