Fintech Stakeholder Labs Raises Alexis Ohanian’s VC Seed Round

  • Stakeholder Labs helps companies identify and engage with retail investors.
  • CEO and co-founder Matt Joanou observed the untapped potential of retail investors while on Reddit.
  • The startup raised an initial round of $4.2 million, led by a venture capital firm owned by the Reddit co-founder.

This startup wants to help companies engage with their retail investors and just got backing from an investor well versed in building active communities.

Stakeholder Labs provides plug-in software that vets a company’s stakeholders and measures customer behavior with the goal of generating long-term loyalty. The fintech company sees untapped potential in the emotional connection between Millennials and Gen Z and the companies they invest in.

On Tuesday, Stakeholder Labs announced a $4.2 million seed round led by Seven Seven Six, a venture firm founded by Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of social media site Reddit and husband of athlete Serena Williams. A spokesperson declined to share Stakeholder Labs’ assessment.

“The hypothesis is that retail investors can be more stable, better advocates and ultimately better supporters of the brand, because often they are not only shareholders but also customers and really care about the brand”, Matt Joanou, CEO and co-founder of Stakeholder Labs, told Insider.

“Not trying to convert that customer into a shareholder is the biggest missed opportunity,” added Max Goldstein, head of marketing and shareholder experience at Stakeholder Labs.

The Stakeholder Lab’s software, called Roundtable, is integrated directly into a company’s website or application, allowing customers to identify themselves as shareholders. After submitting your brokerage credentials, Roundtable verifies the user and collects data from their shareholders, such as how many shares they own, the total value of those shares, and how long they’ve held them.

Roundtable will always use a self-verification process via a brokerage account to maintain privacy standards, a spokesperson said.

The Round Table presents and contextualizes the data through a dashboard, and Stakeholder Labs helps the company create a campaign to interact with them, such as offering exclusive rewards to investors, such as early access to a new product.

‘Call of Duty’ and free popcorn

Joanou watched the rise of the backend retail investor on Reddit from 2016 to 2021, where he most recently worked as a global agency lead and launched Reddit’s New York global agency team. His time there was during “the heyday of audience marketing” and “community-based marketing,” he said.

“We were coming up with this very new idea of, ‘Hey, you can really go after niche communities that really care about Call of Duty or really care about World of Warcraft, and even if it’s a smaller number — it’s not dozens of millions of people – they will be your advocates and they will be the ones who will carry your brand flag”, said Joanou.

The CEO’s “light bulb moment” to found the startup came in 2021, when AMC Theaters began offering free popcorn to its shareholders every time they visited the theater in an effort to increase ticket sales.

“I wondered what software is driving this? And it turned out there wasn’t a ton of software they were using. It was still a brilliant campaign,” said Joanou. “So we wanted to create software where any platform, out of the box, could launch a program like this, and more importantly, they could measure the effectiveness.”

Joanou hopes that more exchanges will create similar tools, but sees them as complementary rather than competing.

“They are helping to carry the banner of retail investor engagement,” said Joanou.

Companies Joanou sees as more direct competitors include Tiicker, Stockperks, Robinhood’s Say Technologies, Pulse and VandaTrack.

Stakeholder Labs’ clients range from small to medium-sized publicly traded companies that tend to be more agile and willing to experiment with new technologies. Currently, the startup has three clients.

He has also worked with private companies including Skybound Entertainment, the company behind ‘The Walking Dead’ television series. Stakeholder Labs helped Skybound raise over $12 million through a Regulation A+ crowdfunding campaign in December 2022, in which its fans were able to invest in the company for the first time.

Joanou said the startup is “talking to a lot of top players” and is looking to apply its software to private companies that are using equity crowdfunding campaigns. There are two publicly traded companies preparing to announce shareholder reward campaigns using the Roundtable, a spokesman said.

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