Beyonce Invests in Sidestep

This post originally appeared on TechCrunch and can be found here

Joining celebrity investors like Snoop Dogg, Ashton Kutcher, and Justin Bieber, Queen Bey is bringing her supreme business skills to the tech world. Beyoncé and the management company she started called Parkwood Entertainment have invested $150,000 into Sidestep, an app for buying concert merchandise and skipping the line to pick it up at the show.

Sidestep originally started selling t-shirts and posters for Beyoncé on her Formation World Tour. But after two weeks of seeing its success, Beyoncé and Parkwood invested in Sidestep’s seed round of funding.

Sidestep CEO Eric Jones tells me they “wanted Beyoncé’s tour to be very focused on tech”, and liked the idea of “a tiny scrappy startup doing the biggest tour in the world.”


Beyoncé previously invested in WTRMLN WTR, a watermelon beverage company. She’s believed to have ties to juicing machine maker Juicero, though that company refuses to talk about their relationship. [Update: Beyonce helped start vegan food company 22 Day Nutritionas well.] She’s also a stakeholder in streaming service Tidal thanks to her agreement to give it early access to her music. With her investment in Sidestep, though, she could directly help artists earn more money.

Musicians hoping to get rich off skimpy streaming royalties are kidding themselves. The real money is in using streaming to get famous and then selling concert tickets and merchandise.

But due to long lines and, you know, wanting to actually see the show, many people avoid buying t-shirts and other merch at concerts. That’s where Sidestep steps in.

The startup lets you order tour merchandise before, during, or even after the show from its smartphone app. You can then Sidestep the merch booth line, flash a QR code at the dedicated pickup spot, and grab your items in seconds. Or you can have them delivered to your home. This way you can be sure to get whatever stuff you want in the right size with no fear of wasting time or it selling out.

Along with Beyoncé gear, you can buy merch from artists like Guns N’ Roses, Fall Out Boy, Selena Gomez, and Weezer via Sidestep. The startup gives artists a ton of data about who’s buying, and keeps a 10% service fee charged to the customer.


Sidestep has raised a total of $1.7 million from Beyoncé and other investors including actor Jared Leto, former Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter and Cross Culture Ventures, and the previous CEO of the LA Dodgers. The app has done over $2 million in sales, up 10X from last year. The company competed in TechCrunch’s 1st And Future sports startup hackathonearlier this year. 

Sidestep will have to compete with other merchandise startups like Merchbar, an Amazon-like webstore, and Yoshirt, which lets fans design custom items with a band’s logos and photos. and some people might rather stand in line than pay 10% extra. But with streaming royalties still unable to make up for the drop in album sales, artists will do whatever they can to sell more shirts, and these startups could flourish.

Meanwhile, top performers like Beyoncé who invest will start stackin’ money in Silicon Valley, not just Hollywood.

Beyonce Invests in Sidestep

Welcoming Nisa Amoils

"The Mayor"

I am very pleased to formally announce that we’ve added Nisa Amoils to the Scout family as our newest Venture Partner. Nisa is an experienced attorney, media executive, and noted tech investor in the New York community. She has spent many years at companies pursuing entrepreneurial projects, including Time Warner and NBC Universal. She is also a regular judge/panelist on CNBC, MSNBC and Fox and a mentor at XRC Labs, Grand Central Tech and The Vinetta Project. Nisa’s background demonstrates the entrepreneurial and investing ethos that we admire and strive for at Scout.

Over the past six months, we’ve been working very closely with Nisa around expanding our efforts in frontier tech. She has proven to be incredibly insightful and her deep domain expertise in digital media, marketplaces and frontier tech make her the perfect addition to the team. Nisa will be leading our efforts investing in drones, AI, and…

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Welcoming Nisa Amoils

Olapic Acquired

"The Mayor"

Today, a company where I was the first investor was acquired.

What makes this so special is that these are just some of the most amazing guys I’ve had the opportunity to work with – ever.

And Olapic, like many start-ups, had several pivots before they found their product – market fit.   And it was the personalities and determination of these intelligent and happy founders that attracted an amazing group of advisors, mentors and investors.

I couldn’t  be more proud.  This is why I do what I do.

Congrats to Pau, Jose and Luis – you deserve everything!

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Olapic Acquired

How to actually make America great again

"The Mayor"

I original drafted this post prior to the incidents in St. Louis, Louisiana and Dallas that rocked our nation last week…

As I reflect on this 4th of July celebration, I am overwhelmed with the realization that as a “people,” we have lost touch with the ingredients that actually made this an amazing country.  The country I have loved from my earliest days.  The country I swore an oath to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic.  The country that is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, America, where anything is possible.

Well, I think its fair to say that we’ve totally screwed that up and if we don’t fix it now, we are likely to experience continued civil unrest, increased violence and turmoil until we implode.

At the root of our current troubles is the fact that most of Americans forget that we were all once immigrants (except Native American…

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How to actually make America great again

Good day

"The Mayor"

The other day was a rough day.

One of our companies failed to find a buyer and let all their employees go.

Over dinner my dear friend Joey Hundert provided support and counsel while reminding me that as entrepreneurs our lives are full of peaks and dips.

He assured me it’s okay to be genuine in the emotions we feel when companies fail. And I was sad and disappointed.

Then yesterday I was reminded of the emotions when companies succeed.

And that is being proud of our entrepreneurs

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Good day

Bloglovin’ Embraces Influencer Marketing With Sverve Acquisition

This article was originally posted on TechCrunch by Anthony Ha. 

Bloglovin’ is announcing the acquisition of marketing startup Sverve, a move that should the expand monetization options for writers using the Bloglovin’ platform.

The New York-headquartered company offers an aggregator where consumers can find and follow fashion and lifestyle bloggers, and where those bloggers can reach and stay connected with a new audience. CEO Giordano Contestabile (who joined last year through the acquisition of his startup Finale) already helps writers monetize through native ad campaigns, but those are “very bespoke, high-end campaigns” and only accessible to the most popular bloggers.

Sverve, meanwhile, has built a self-serve platform connecting brands and influencers for marketing campaigns, and then helping them track the results. These campaigns aren’t limited to blogs, either, but can also involve promotion on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

As a result of the acquisition, Sverve is being renamed Activate by Bloglovin’, with CEO Rohit Vashisht becoming president of the rebranded business. Bloglovin’ creators should be able to sign up today, and over time, the company plans to introduce more integrations between the two platforms.

 “It’s not going to be contained to a few influencers, not even a few hundred,” said Vashisht (pictured aboce with Contestabile). “Our goal is to bring those opportunities to the hundreds of thousands of influencers in our network. [Bloglovin’ says it has 750,000 registered bloggers.] Brands can pick and choose influencers, but there will also be automated campaigns where hundreds of influencers can start promoting a brand’s message.”

The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. Contestabile said it was primarily a stock deal — Sverve investors are becoming Bloglovin’ shareholders, and Vashisht is joining the company’s board of directors. According to CrunchBase, Sverve raised less than $1 million from 500 Startups, FundersClub, Scout Ventures and others.

“Helping influencers succeed is a part of our mission, and we really feel this acquisition will allow us to do more of that,” Contestabile said.

Bloglovin’ Embraces Influencer Marketing With Sverve Acquisition