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How a Last Ditch Trip Saved a Startup


NewsCred caught a break when the funds ran out

Going broke can lead to failed comebacks from pop novelties (think MC Hammer), one more fight from an aging champ (take your pick), or a lot of really terrible movies from an otherwise great actor (we’re looking at you Nic Cage). But sometimes everything works out – as it did for NY startup NewsCred.

NewsCred licenses and curates news content and helps brands like Pepsi build custom content-based user experiences. It took two big pivots to get there, however, and by the time they’d figured out the model (mid-2010), they were out of cash.

With the company unable to even fund a trip, founder Shafqat Islam used a friend’s wedding in San Francisco as a last-ditch fundraising tour. On the way out of town, he got in touch withAngel List — now a broadly used platform to connect investors and startups, but at the time, it was just an email list. “Luckily, they featured us in their email blast right then. By the time I landed, I had 40 emails from [investors] like Fred Wilson, Marc Andreessen, and Mike Maples.” Islam spent the week in meetings and left with a commitment from Maples for $750k. “That saved the company,” he said.

And what if it hadn’t worked out? “We probably would’ve tried anything to keep it going. I don’t know…maybe a bake sale.”

No bake sale necessary. NewsCred went on to raise $4 million more in 2011 and now has 50 employees globally, with offices in London and Dhaka, Bangladesh, in addition to the NYC HQ.

Islam says they’ll add five or more in New York by year’s end —  see current openings here.

Now go forth (and dig in those couch cushions).

Nitty Gritty:

1,000+: Publishers on NewsCred platform

25: Avg. circulation life (months) of a $20 bill

2,563: Miles from NY to SF

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