SocialKaty, a Chicago-based social media marketing company, landed Series A funding recently from Lightbank, the high-profile VC firm that was founded by the original backers of Groupon. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.
I am sure you are thinking the same thing as I was: How does a company that executes online marketing campaigns for small to mid-sized businesses get Lightbank’s attention? The answer is an unusual one, as I learned during a conversation with Edinbugh native Katy Lynch, co-founder and CMO of SocialKaty. Here are excerpts from our chat:
Tech Cocktail: How on Earth did you get in front of Lightbank?
Katy Lynch: [Laughing] Well it is an interesting story, actually. I moved to Chicago 4 years ago and worked for the travel site Where I’ve Been – which was eventually bought by TripAdvisor. I was the Community Manager, and in 2 years helped grow the company from 0 to 10 million users. During that time, we took a round of funding from Lightbank, so I met the Lightbank team back then, as well as the other portfolio companies under the Lightbank umbrella.
I started helping other portfolio companies with their social media strategy, discovered my entrepeneurial spirit and launched SocialKaty. I worked with a lot of tech startups – including many of the Lightbank companies, so we’ve been on their radar for a while. In the beginning, SocialKaty was just me and Craig [Ulliot, SocialKaty's co-founder and CEO]. We are growing very quickly, and now that social media has proven it’s here to stay, Craig and I went to Lightbank, showed how SocialKaty can scale, and so they invested in us.
Tech Cocktail: Any advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get noticed by and build relationships with VCs?
Lynch: VCs are very interested in the people behind the idea – you need to have a REALLY great, energetic, innovative team. Of course, you also must have a phenomenal idea and great product – and be able to say this is what we have, what we’ve done so far, and this is where we want to go with your money – that is very compelling to VCs.
Get on their radar by networking – get your name out there, whether it’s promoting yourself or your brand, and attend events, like Tech Cocktail’s mixers, where you know VCs will be present.
If you’re on Twitter and spot conversations that are happening with VCs, hop into those conversations, engage with VCs and ask to take the conversation offline. VCs are always open to hearing new ideas and meeting entrepreneurs with awesome ideas.