Startup Spotlight #175: Scroobious
Scroobious increases diversity in the startup ecosystem with a virtual platform that mobilizes founders to be more investable and helps investors discover them through hyper-curation.
Scroobious increases diversity in the startup ecosystem with a virtual platform that mobilizes founders to be more investable and helps investors discover them through hyper-curation. With our Pitch it Plan™ (PiP), entrepreneurs access online education, community, and personalized feedback from a human who understands their journey to create investor-compelling material in an approachable and affordable way. For investors, our platform clarifies overlooked opportunities highlighting both the founder’s human qualities and the business information with hyper-curation based on proprietary variables and their own behavior so they can intentionally invest in diverse entrepreneurs.
Allison Byers is the Founder & CEO of Scroobious, which increases diversity in the startup ecosystem with a virtual platform that mobilizes founders to be more investable and helps investors discover them through hyper-curation. Prior to founding Scroobious she launched and co-ran a medical device company spun out of MIT where she raised nearly $10M and experienced first-hand the challenges that come with fundraising as a female founder. Her earlier career includes over a decade of startup and tech operator roles. Allison is also an angel investor, frequent startup mentor and advisor, speaker, and works with dozens of diversity-focused accelerators, non-profit organizations, and university programs. She received her MBA from Boston University, is a mom of two young children, and is a vocal proponent of parent entrepreneurs.
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Startup Spotlight: Scroobious
Problem: There are scores of great companies and founders that don't make it because certain founders are systemically disadvantaged and undernetworked, as evidenced by the fact that women receive only 2% of VC dollars and only 0.67% goes to Black founders. On the other side, emerging angels and fund managers are committed to DEI, want to get involved beyond just capital, but they are a fragmented market and access to a qualified pipeline as well as to other like-minded investors is a top issue.
Market: Based on our go-to-market pricing model for founders and investors, the U.S. TAM is over $15B. The long and growing tail of active angel and early-stage investors and the increase in new startups create a venture-scale market potential.
Solution: Our virtual platform combines online education, community, and personalized feedback from a human who understands the founder journey to help diverse entrepreneurs create investor-compelling material in an approachable and affordable way. For investors, our platform clarifies overlooked opportunities highlighting both the founder’s human qualities and the business information with hyper-curation based on their own behavior so they can intentionally invest in diverse entrepreneurs.
Team: I’m an MBA with 15+ yrs’ experience building and leading data-driven start-ups and most recently co-ran a start-up medical device company with machine learning at its core where I raised nearly $10M. Our Community Lead was an early member of a growing crowdfunding portal and we are being capital efficient by using contractors and hands-on advisors and investors who complement our knowledge gaps as we build our team.
Byers: We launched our MVP one year ago and have now worked with over 250 founders, partner with dozens of accelerators and incubators, and have consistent inbound earned press and speaking requests all with zero marketing spend. There are a lot of companies talking about the importance of DEI initiatives, but there aren't many actually doing something about it, and even fewer with an underrepresented founder. We are mission-driven and our devotion to amplifying the work of overlooked founders as well as tangibly helping them get into accelerators and obtain capital resonates on a deep level, which has prompted mutual support and a strong referral network among our community. Our authentic connection with our customers and broader ecosystem is a true differentiator; we've done very well establishing our voice and credibility in our space.
Byers: Just two months after founding Scroobious we entered the age of COVID quarantine and restrictions. As with many startups, not only did we need to modify our product strategy, but the sudden quarantine and remote learning for our kids pushed back progress and timelines. At the same time, the need for Scroobious was heightened and interest intensified as there are market and cultural shifts happening in a way they never have before to find and fund diverse founders alongside the acute need for remote connection. Market demand combined with the reality of needing to intentionally stunt our growth and delay our fundraising plans has been very frustrating. Women have exited the labor force at twice the rate men have and our employment is at the lowest it's been in more than 30 years. 1/3 of all mothers in the workforce have scaled back or left their jobs since March 2020, which is an unreal statistic. I'm very proud of the fact that we have continued our progress, have now helped hundreds of founders, and are weeks away from being able to soft-launch our investor-facing portal, but it is a daily struggle to accept the fact that I haven't been able to grow the company at the rate men or those without children might have.
Byers: Evaluate what you personally are hoping to achieve. This is a hard road. Entrepreneurship has been romanticized in popular press and with shows like Shark Tank, but the odds of making it from incorporation through profitable exit are extremely low, especially for underrepresented founders, so make sure this is what you believe makes the most business sense and what you want out of your life experience. I’d strongly recommend gaining some varied experience before starting your own business. This doesn’t necessarily mean years, it could mean interning and consulting if you’re a student entrepreneur, but there is no better way to learn than to do so by experience and observation. There is A LOT that goes into starting your own business, and it isn’t all fun. In fact, the super important stuff is tedious and confusing like incorporation documents, contract review, insurance, and the like. Get a realistic sense of what you’re jumping into beforehand.
Three Cool Founders You Should Know About:
Byers: Here are three founders you should check out next!
Jessica Lynch, Founder of Wishroute: Wishroute helps D2C companies proactively and personally support customers with a human “accountability buddy," driving increased conversion, engagement and retention.
Marc Ward, Founder of Socian Technologies: Socian follows a simple business philosophy: to devote our talent and technology to creating superior products and services that contribute to a better global society through the relentless innovation in the worlds of artificial intelligence, homes, smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, and network systems solutions.
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