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Hip hop finds its beat in the startup scene

Joanna Glasner Contributor

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Hip hop stars are taking their reputations to Wall street and Sand Hill road.

unlike their rock big name brethren, who've historically been disinterested in dabbling with startups, fairly a couple of hip hop artists have collected good-sized portfolios. They've considered a number of big hits too, most recently including a massive up circular for zero-fee inventory buying and selling platform Robinhood, which counted Jay-Z, Nas and Snoop Dogg among its prior backers.

however simply how deep does the hip hop-startup relationship go and where is it headed? To shed some easy on that question, we put collectively a assessment of Crunchbase facts on the startup funding endeavor of noted musicians. We looked at each hip hop and dad stars, culling a listing of 21 artists who're either active investors or have joined one or greater rounds in contemporary years.

The popular conclusion: Artists are doing more deals, elevating extra cash and backing more companies that graduate to up rounds and exits. listed below are a couple of examples:

  • besides getting a slice of Robinhood, Jay-Z and his entertainment company, Roc Nation, also noticed an early portfolio business, flight membership startup JetSmarter, go on to elevate financing a year ago at a stated valuation greater than $1.5 billion. Roc Nation additionally made headlines this week for investing in Promise, a startup providing alternatives to incarceration for individuals who can't have enough money bail.
  • QueensBridge undertaking companions, the investment fund co-founded by Nas, become an early-stage investor in video doorbell maker Ring, which Amazon just bought for $1.1 billion. The company could additionally see some paper gains this week in the a whole lot-anticipated market debut of Dropbox, which it backed in a 2014 sequence C round. additionally, QueensBridge participated in a $25 million sequence B round for cryptocurrency buying and selling platform Coinbase lower back in 2013. Coinbase's final reported valuation become round $1.6 billion.
  • Casa Verde Capital, a cannabis-focused undertaking fund co-centered by means of Snoop Dogg, has closed its debut fund with $forty five million. simply this week it backed a $3.5 million round for vape company green Tank.
  • That's no longer to claim every little thing a celebrity touches turns multi-platinum. We discovered quite a few flops in their portfolios and assembled an inventory here of 10 startups now shuttered that counted a hip hop or pop celebrity among their backers.

    becoming and remaining noted requires many of the equal advantage and traits as working an entrepreneurial project, together with an exceptional diploma of tenacity.

    Of path, flops are a part of life for early-stage buyers, so there's no motive we'd are expecting celebrities to be an exception. moreover, many of the now-shuttered agencies have been not closely capitalized by using task necessities.

    despite the fact, there are some larger-profile or greater closely funded corporations on the flop list. One is Washio, a laundry beginning service, which raised $17 million from Nas and 20 different investors earlier than striking itself out to dry in 2016. one other is Viddy, an app for taking pictures and sharing video clips backed by means of Roc Nation.

    a number of mission pundits and pa subculture professionals have prior to now pontificated why celebrities, and hip hop stars in certain, are drawn to startups.

    One opportunity is that rap song and startups resemble each and every other at the earliest tiers, postulates Cam Houser, CEO of the three Day Startup program. Rap music starts with a rapper and a producer. This duality, he says, is akin to the beginning stages of a startup, which often additionally brings collectively two americans, a business and a technical co-founder.

    Rap and startup entrepreneurship are additionally each longshot career tracks that have fun uncooked ambition and unabashed self-promotion. To make it, however, each require a brilliant hold close of what sells in the actual world.

    Branding is most likely probably the most common cause provided for the celeb-startup connection. With their huge fan bases, swooning coverage and tens of millions of social media followers, celebrities can certainly support get the word out about a brand new product or app. That stated, the attention usually works most effective if observed product additionally has compelling attributes of its own.

    one of the most much less controversial explanations is that fitting and last noted requires lots of the identical expertise and characteristics as running an entrepreneurial assignment, together with an outstanding diploma of tenacity.

    It's additionally authentic that in challenge capital and the track business, it's the hits that depend. It helps that we're seeing plenty of those. 

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