When she joined Baltimore-based Catalyte last year, Lolita Taub brought an investment background, with a focus on underestimated founders. This fall, she is applying that experience with an additional venture as cofounder and general partner of the Community Fund. The $5 million early-stage fund is backing community-driven companies that value a human-centered approach.
“The way we see it is humans are craving community more than ever,” Taub said in a recent interview for Off the Sidelines, an investor education podcast produced by Technical.ly and sponsored by Project Entrepreneur, a program by UBS. “The platforms to connect each other are here, and we all need to get scrappier on how we sell. We believe that doing it through community adds a lot of differentiated value.”
The Community Fund, which Taub launched with investor Jesse Middleton of Flybridge after they met on Twitter, is looking to invest in companies that cultivate bonds among their customers, and do more than sell a product. The companies create models that are centered around people, where the community can be the product or there’s a community around the product.
“I think business has missed a big point about humans being at the center of everything,” said Taub.
The companies Taub wants to invest in have customers that identify as members. Because they value the community built together with the company, customer create value for each other, she said. This leads to customers bringing in more customers, but more than word of mouth, this is an invitation to join a community. And that community also creates an advantage.
“When you think about companies and their differentiators, you’re always thinking about, what are the ways companies can make it difficult to copycat their business,” said Taub. “Creating a community, duplicating a community that’s not something that’s easy to do.”
Like any firm The Community Fund is looking for an outsized return on their investment. The difference is this firm believes, “community-driven companies will create the unicorns of the future.”
Listen to the full episode here.Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
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