By Kathryn Dankesreiter
SocialCrowd Raises $550,000 Pre-Seed Round to Build the “Digital Fitbit for Work”!
In 2016, Raphael Akinsipe, a student in the Whitacre College of Engineering, pitched his startup idea and won a place in the first cohort of the Texas Tech Innovation Hub’sAccelerator Program. After graduating from the year-long program, Raphael continued to pursue his entrepreneurial journey.
“The Accelerator Program was one: fantastic for myself and for my team,” explains Raphael Akinsipe. “We had just recently graduated from Tech when we were starting the Accelerator Program. Having the backing of Texas Tech, in particular the Hub, on what we were building was incredibly impactful because we were kind of young, dumb college students trying to figure it out. It was fantastic to have support in terms of what I would call our startup education.”
After moving on from his original company, ResuMakers, which didn’t become as successful as he imagined, Raphael has used the skills he developed through the Accelerator Program to launch new companies. Since graduating from the program, Raphael has worked for Google, Microsoft, and Marvel. Raphael’s newest venture SocialCrowd, an automated employee incentive platform, is creating a buzz across the country and has recently raised a $550K pre-seed round of capital investments.
The round was led by VC 414, a female and Latina-led early-stage venture capital firm headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. VC 414 invests in high-growth potential startups led by women and other undercapitalized founders, such as LatinX, Black, LGBTQ+, veterans, and people with disabilities. The round also included participation from Anand Gala of Gala Capital Partners and various strategic angel investors. SocialCrowd will use the funding from this round to scale its team, enhance its product offering, and continue its expansion.
So far, all of their growth to this point has been fairly organic without any investment in marketing. SocialCrowd has done an incredible job of gaining adoption with both local and national brands. Some of its early customers include Sonic Drive-in (various franchise locations), Motorola Solutions, and more.
“SocialCrowd allows us the flexibility to engage and reward our employees by our own company service guidelines and standards. We appreciate having the ability to create campaigns and reward opportunities fluidly, depending on what goals we choose to focus on and when. We have thoroughly enjoyed our partnership with the SocialCrowd team and look forward to expanding our collaboration.” said Paige Hadley, Marketing Director of Sonic Amarillo.
Raphael acknowledges that his success is attributed to the numerous people who believed in him and invested in him throughout his life. When his parents immigrated to the U.S. they had to overcome many challenges to be able to support Raphael and his sisters. Raphael and his fiancé agreed that when and if they were ever able to give back and support others from underrepresented backgrounds, they would find the opportunity. He did just that. The Akinsipe family has created an Endowed Scholarship in partnership with the College of Engineering to fund academic careers for students from underrepresented populations.
Raphael’s passion for paying it forward also led him to come back to his alma mater and the place where his journey began to share his entrepreneurial journey with eager students, faculty, and community members who are working on their own startups. Raphael was the guest speaker for the Innovation Hub’s Lunch & Learn series with over 50 people in attendance. Raphael has attributed his success as an entrepreneur to the education he received at Texas Tech and through the Accelerator Program.