Google for Startups' social strategy aims to act as an always-on resource that helps founders and startups at every stage, built upon the commitment to lift up and amplify underrepresented founders in every corner of the globe. In practice, that means building a community, sharing Google’s platform, and providing resources, tools, and funds that help startups move forward. With the COVID-19 outbreak and its effects on the economy, startup founders across the globe are facing the challenge of keeping their businesses afloat.
The biggest concern on founders’ minds is fundraising. While many are fundraising now or expect to later this year, they lack the tools and resources to identify the right opportunities and need guidance, tips, and advice on how to navigate fundraising in the current climate. And with the odds historically stacked against Black founders, concerns and questions regarding the ongoing inaction and inequality around the funding of Black-led startups are on the rise.
Leveraging Google for Startups’ unique tools, resources, and platform, we set out to connect the founder community, particularly underrepresented founders, in a whole new way—with the ultimate goal of providing them direct access to the information and actionable advice they’re craving now more than ever. We had one clear objective for this to work: engage experts from the Google for Startups partner and employee network to share first-hand advice with founders in need, in real-time.
First, we needed to find the right representatives and authentic voices to facilitate and drive these open and honest conversations.
Enter Jewel Burks Solomon. Beyond her role as head of Google for Startups in the U.S., she is an advocate for representation and access in the technology industry, and spends much of her free time as an angel investor and mentor to startup founders across the U.S.
With Jewel at the helm, we worked to identify the right partner in the Google for Startups network to come alongside her to convene a real-time conversation. We identified Arlan Hamilton, a founder and investor in her own right, managing partner of Backstage Capital, and author of ‘It’s About Damn Time”—a how-to on turning being underestimated into one’s greatest advantage.
With the right voices identified and their participation confirmed, we focused on identifying the best forum for a “live” conversation like this: Instagram. With Google for Startups’ hyper-engaged audience of 50K+ followers (which has been growing rapidly in 2020), we decided to test an Instagram Live activation for the first time to facilitate an intimate conversation between Jewel and Arlan—both of who have their own large pools of engaged Instagram followers (14.3K and 63.2K respectively).
Google for Startups announced the Instagram Live across its global social channels to encourage founders to tune in. The announcement was amplified on Jewel and Arlan’s personal social channels, as well as @Google’s masterbrand Twitter channel. A day prior to the Instagram Live, Google for Startups shared a reminder Instagram Story, with a countdown and call-to-action for followers to submit questions for Jewel and Arlan—resulting in dozens of questions submitted in advance.
On May 11, Jewel took over the @GoogleforStartups Instagram channel to host the Live Q&A with Arlan on the overarching topic of funding, particularly as it relates to underrepresented founders. During the Instagram Live, viewers were encouraged to ask questions in real-time for Jewel and Arlan to address.
To meet our objective of providing founders, particularly those underrepresented, with direct access to information and actionable advice on fundraising in the current climate, topics discussed throughout the 60-minute Instagram Live ranged from:
How to adapt and make adjustments in the current climate
How to work with founders and partners during COVID-19
Equity crowdfunding and alternative sources of funding
Customer validation and early market demand
Understanding if there’s a market for your business
The Live also included a surprise giveaway of 10 copies of Arlan’s new book, ‘It’s About Damn Time’, which further details her first-hand experiences and advice for underrepresented founders.
After the Instagram Live ended, viewers took to social to continue the conversation and share their reactions—posting photos of themselves tuning in, sharing their interest in the book giveaway, and thanking Jewel and Arlan for the session.
A full Live broadcast was available on Google for Startups’ Instagram Story for 24-hours following, and key takeaways from the conversation were repurposed into future recap content for the Google for Startups channels.
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