Office Hours: I'm the co-founder of The Community Fund and VP of Corporate Development at Catalyte. I was previously an investor at Backstage and scout at Lightspeed.Featured
Hi everyone! I’m Lolita Taub, Co-Founder and GP of The Community Fund, a $5 million early-stage fund that invests in community-driven companies, and VP of Corporate Development at Catalyte, a company using AI and data science to build technology workforces for the world’s most progressive companies. I have 15 years working within the Silicon Valley ecosystem, have accomplished $70M+ in sales and made 60+ investments as an angel investor and VC at The Community Fund, Backstage Capital, and the Lightspeed Scout Fund.Ask me anything about venture capital, building communities, launching a fund, or doing it all!
Thanks so much for joining us @lolita!Elphas – please ask @lolita your questions before Friday, May 28th. @lolita may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi Lolita! Thank you for doing this. I'm curious, with a traditional sales / operator background, how did you break out into venture? Asking as I have a traditional marketing background as a generalist across large consumer tech cos and startups, and would love to look into ways on how others have broken into the industry.
Here's a thread I wrote for aspiring operator-investor VCs that may help with your question: https://twitter.com/lolitataub/status/1344021839341707264?s=20 Here's my journey into VC: https://twitter.com/lolitataub/status/1336851375632703488?s=20
Hey @lolita, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! I follow you on Twitter and clearly a lot of what I know about fundraising comes from your advice! Quick question about the amounts to raise. Right now, I see a lot of founders raising 2M pre-seed, 5M seed but also people raising 1,6M seed. How can you explain these differences? How should we position ourselves as an early-stage founder with no revenue but users' interest?Thanks for your clarification!
Hi Lolita! So great to see you here. I am learning tons of the VC world through your newsletter ❤️and I am going to join The Venture Cooporative as a Venture Fellow. I am super excited. I have HR/EA background and would love more insights on how I can break into the industry. Thank you so much for what you do!!!
Here's a thread on how to break into VC: https://twitter.com/lolitataub/status/1376585755456196610?s=20
Hi Lolita, Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions! My question is about how to build a community.For single ladies, Untangle Money is creating an online platform to guide users through the creation of a basic financial plan in a self-paced, self-directed process that reduces financial anxiety, improves financial literacy, and supports more informed decisions about saving and spending.We're looking to build a community around women and money, but it can be a difficult topic for a lot of women (Merrill Lynch found that more women would rather talk about their own death, than money). Having said that, we know that everything improves for women if they have tools they like to use to learn about their money. How do we build a community around a topic that women don't want to talk about?Thanks! Kristine
Building community is less about creating it but rather making space for a community that already exists to come together. For The Community Playbook Cheat Sheet, go here: https://medium.com/the-community-fund/the-community-playbook-cheat-sheet-31ae9ae77f3cFor women & money community inspiration, I suggest you look up Ellevate and Portfolia.
Hi @lolita, I've really enjoyed following your career from Backstage to now. At the Pre-Seed and Seed stage, what are some of the most important growth & market interest indicators that you and others would look for? Specifically thinking about this pre-product, but could apply to early MVP in the consumer community space. Thanks so much for any insights!
When I'm assessing a pre-seed or seed startup, I am looking for a:1. founding team that is hungry (not thirsty), has integrity and knows their space 2. co in a $billion+ market that's leveraging market tailwinds3. co that has line of sight to a differentiation* moat4. team that I want to work with for a long time5. opportunity to support the team with my skillset, expertise, and network*Remember that a differentiator is something that you offer/have that the competition doesn’t (and would be hard to replicate) and that your customer wants to pay for. For pitch-deck must-haves, take a look at this tweet: https://twitter.com/lolitataub/status/1234202057227276296?s=20
@lolita, Just checked out your medium, TCF website etc. to learn more because "community driven companies" and "launching a fund" resonated. Was excited to find "supporting our underestimated founder/investor fam" is also part of your wheelhouse. Thanks for making the world a cooler place and sharing your wisdom here and elsewhere!I'm in Minneapolis, working to start a 'catalyzer' for community-driven, underestimated-founder-led businesses. Would be grateful for you to weigh in on whichever of these questions speaks to you! Seriously, would be happy with an answer to one!-- Where does TCF's money come from -- your investment team personally? High net worth individuals? Do you any raise money (and/or do your founders raise money) from small-dollar donors at all? For instance, do the customer "members" have any ownership (similar to membership in many grocery co-ops)? What pros/cons do you see with this idea?-- How important is the money compared with the other things TCF offers: community access, expertise, help fundraising from other sources?-- How much/little money does it take to be helpful to a startup?-- Have you / your partners / founders thought about the employee-owned company model*? It seems a lot of problems arise from workers being at the bottom of a company's priorities / outside their community (compared with founders, investors, and consumers). I'm thinking employee-ownership could rapidly give many more people wealth-building assets and a sense of purpose/ownership in life. Very curious what pros/cons you see with the idea? (*To clarify, by employee-owned I mean employees have equity and voting power in the company, but there's still management, hierarchy, pay differences, outside investors, etc.)
TCF fund I is backed by Flybridge. The value of an investor is not just their money but what they can offer. You can read more about how we source, select, and support startups here: https://medium.com/the-community-fund/the-community-fund-how-we-source-select-and-support-startups-74f48ada262a
Hey Lolita! what are some common mistakes that you have seen in companies when building communities?
Common mistakes in building community include not getting clear on the why, what, who and where of it. For a community to succeed, community builders must answer the following questions: 1. Why — Why do you want to build a community? Do you see the community as your product or does the community add to your product development and your company’s growth?2. What? — What mission/values will bring your community together?3. Who — Who is the target persona for your community? In other words, what kinds of people will it bring together?4. Where? — Where will your community come together? Are you planning to leverage a proprietary platform, Slack, Facebook groups, WhatsApp?For more, read The Community Playbook Cheat Sheet: https://medium.com/the-community-fund/the-community-playbook-cheat-sheet-31ae9ae77f3c
👋 Hi Lolita. As someone who thinks a ton about community, I’m wondering how you define it. I feel like it gets thrown around a lot to mean wildly different things, and I’m super interested in your take.Relatedly, what’s a company or project that uses community creatively? I would love to learn from people innovating in the community-driven space.
Here's a thread on how I think of community-driven companies: https://twitter.com/lolitataub/status/1298381835794182145?s=20 Companies that use community creatively include but are not limited to TCF portfolio cos. You can find them here: https://twitter.com/i/lists/1370258289728974851
Hi Lolita!I've been following you on Twitter and got a lot of useful information about startups. It's so great that you've started TCF. I'm a founder of a niche community of nail polish lovers, we've created our own iOS and Android apps. Usually, I hear that VCs are not interested in communities because the only way to monetize them is an advertising model and this is not innovative. At the same time, I see that communities are underestimated because thousands of passionate users can make magic and influence the market.So, my questions:- do you think that different kinds of advertising are the only way to monetize communities? or are there other ways to make a profit?- are there any kinds of metrics and numbers that are important for investors, like 10'000 DAU is quite good to invest but 5'000 DAU isn't enough for the community?- what to do if you're too small to interest VCs and enterprises but you're growing and your personal resources are not enough to support the project?Thanks for taking your time and answering our questions!
I recommend you read my friend David Spinks book "The Business of Belonging" if you want to deep dive into how a company can leverage community to build and grow a company. Community can be used for: 1. Support - improve customer satisfaction and save on support costs 2. Product - improve products with feedback and insights from the community 3. Acquisition - acquire new leads, customers or users 4. Contribution - drive quality contributions to a collaborative or social platform or marketplace 5. Engagement - improve customer satisfaction through community experiences6. Success - drive product adoption and customer expansion Whether you're community-driven, or not, investors will always want to see metrics that point towards a future return on investment. Here's a metrics chart that can help: https://twitter.com/lolitataub/status/1223780337500741632?s=20 In terms of fundraising, I recommend you read my "First-time founders: here’s how to select the best fundraising strategy for your startup" guide. You can find it here: https://gumroad.com/lolitataub/#xQfTJ
Hi Lolita! Big fan of yours #TwitterGoals :-) It's super nice to see you here this week.Congrats on all of your successes - I wanted to ask you about the Community Fund: could you share your journey with LP fundraising? Did you leverage your existing network? How long did it take you to close? :-) Thank you for your time!
Twitter was at the center of it and it only took a couple of months to kick off The Community Fund (TCF). Full disclaimer: it was a unique series of events that lead to our launch. You can read more about how I co-launched TCF with my partner Jesse Middleton here: https://medium.com/the-community-fund/from-the-hood-to-launching-a-fund-e169f62f7219
Hi @lolita! It's so great to see you here—I find your Twitter posts so helpful and really appreciate all you do for new founders. I'm working on a platform that pre-skills and connects underrepresented students to paid internships at growing orgs. I'm doing an MVP now and will move into a prototype in late-summer. I'm super interested in learning about how to grow a customer base in an organic way through referrals, which is how I am visualizing the recruitment process for startups who participate in beta. Specifically: how important is it to incentivize referrals? If so, what kind of perks make sense—and is it a good idea to keep them going forever for your initial "loyal" testers? Thanks!
I need to know more about your current go-to-market strategy and business model before I can share my perspective on how to grow your customer base through referrals. But since you're already thinking about enabling a community to market for you, consider becoming community-driven. Learn more about community-driven company benefits and how-tos in this thread: https://twitter.com/lolitataub/status/1298381835794182145?s=20
Greetings @lolita! Your path seems like quite the ride. Thank you for offering your learnings to this community! I 'd love to know if you have any insight to share on determining pre-rev valuations. I am an early-stage Founder validating my value proposition and am getting things aligned for the possibility to explore VC or Angel funding. I want to ensure that I am not underestimating my company’s value since this will impact the amount that I raise, but I also don't want to skew towards a higher valuation that can be discredited. Any advice would be splendid!
Determining valuations are a bit of an art and a science. You'll want to take into consideration your companies stage, funding competition, leadership team experience, size and trendiness of your market, and a handful of other criteria. I share the details in my post "What Every Early-Stage Founder Should Know About Valuations." You can find it here: https://medium.com/greenroom/what-every-early-stage-founder-should-know-about-valuations-225ed2c33c3d
Hi Lolita,Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! My company provides tools and programming to engage their teams. My question to you is what are some tactics to engage disengaged leaders in a hybrid of remote community? Creating that group of advocates makes such a big difference but it's sometimes more uphill when your team is remote/hybrid.
What metrics do you recommend community driven startups target before raising their Series A? I have had a hard time finding any numbers for what a "growth stage" community driven businesses should ideally look like.
Here's a thread on my perspective and tips for founders raising their Series A: https://twitter.com/lolitataub/status/1310667264690016257?s=20