Why Link Ventures invested in Creatively
Based in New York City, Creatively is a professional network for creatives. Think of it as “LinkedIn for the creative world.”
LinkedIn and other job platforms are not built for creatives. They don’t showcase portfolios, an essential element for promoting creatives’ professional experience and connecting them to the right job opportunities.
Businesses are also looking to recruit creatives directly, but often lack the network and resources to find qualified, diverse talent.
Creatively changes all of that.
The company launched in the midst of the pandemic, on May 5, 2020. Its growth in less than a year has been very impressive, with more than 125,000 creatives and 650+ brands already on its marketplace.
We learned of Creatively through our proprietary sourcing algorithms. We decided to invest for the following reasons:
1. Creatively has a clear understanding of its customers and is data-driven.
The members of the company’s management team have career-long understandings of both its demand-side and supply-side customers, creatives, and employers, respectively.
Creatively was co-founded by alice + olivia founder Stacey Bendet and Chief Product Officer Joe Indriolo, and the company is led by CEO Greg Gittrich. Stacey had the idea for Creatively about two years ago when she was hiring creative talent at alice + olivia, a well-known designer brand among women. She realized that there was a significant need for a professional network built expressly for creatives of all disciplines. With her longtime friend, Reagan Silber, she set out to create a solution to connect with and hire high-quality and diverse creative talent.
Greg’s career has focused on the intersection of consumer brands, content and digital products. Prior to joining Creatively, Greg was head of news and product at NBC News Digital, the publisher of Mashable and, most recently, the Chief Commercial Officer at SoulCycle. Greg is a tech, media, and marketing executive with extensive experience launching new ventures, scaling brands and growing revenue, as well as a two-time Peabody Award winner. Most importantly, as Creatively CEO he is data-driven and has a clear understanding of the company’s r real-time metrics, milestones, and contribution margin. He is someone who can speak from both the right and left sides of the brain, and is able to shift seamlessly between those mindsets throughout the day.
2. Creatively can achieve market leadership, and there are barriers to entry by others.
In today’s highly fragmented market, there is no preferred job platform directly connecting a creative’s work portfolio to job opportunities.
I experienced this problem many years ago when hiring stylists for my men’s shopping platform, and it still persists today. Ultimately, I found creatives by word of mouth through other stylists, photographers, and models, as well as through websites such as Model Mayhem, Behance, and Working Not Working, and college networks at FIT, Rhode Island School of Design and the Savannah School of Design.
I have also advised beauty booking platforms (e.g. hair and makeup platforms) where artists post their work (e.g. hairstyle photos) to book appointments with customers. While these types of point solutions continue to crop up, there is no de facto platform for creatives. Here at Link Ventures, we have seen a plethora of job platforms focused on data science and tech talent, but few if any focused on creatives.
As for barriers to entry, Creatively’s business has a head start on data collection. Its customer database and architecture will enable us to suggest personalized, real-time opportunities to both employers and creatives based on their experience and preferences. Led by Link Managing Partner Dave Blundin, our team has helped many consumer internet companies scale by reaching millions of consumers cost-effectively.
Lastly, a founder like Stacey Bendet is a rare find — she has such a deep understanding of both employers and creatives and is a tour de force if ever there was one. Her expertise is evident in Creatively’s early successes, from its massive growth out of the gate to the team’s tireless focus on design and details.
3. Creatively is disrupting a traditional industry.
The first iteration of Creatively’s product has quickly proven to be a market fit, judging from its immediate volume of creative signups. What we love about the product is that it does not reinvent the wheel. It optimizes the offline process of connecting to jobs based on past experience/former colleagues and sharing work in an in-person meeting. The user experience highlights the gig, the non-linear nature of a creative’s work, and beautifully showcases a creative’s prized projects and talented collaborators.
For all of these reasons, we were thrilled at the opportunity to invest in Creatively. Given the market need and the demonstrated capabilities of the management team, we are confident we can help rapidly scale the business by pairing Creatively’s deep understanding of its customers with our proprietary databases and customer-acquisition expertise.