VC Firm Atelier Ventures Wants To Help Turn Creators Into Angel Investors

By 03/29/2021
VC Firm Atelier Ventures Wants To Help Turn Creators Into Angel Investors

Atelier Ventures, an early-stage VC firm founded by former Andreesen Horowtiz partner Li Jin, was launched last month as a $13 million seed fund for startups in the creator economy, with its portfolio already including companies like Stir, Patreon, and Substack.

In an introductory announcement, Jin said that the idea for Atelier was born from her own “immigrant childhood of art and writing, and efforts to reconcile my creative side with the pragmatism required for existence in the world.” She also said that Atelier would serve as more than just a traditional fund, in seeking to foster a sense of community in the digital creator space with a newsletter, podcast, creator database, and a Slack group of 400 founders.

Atelier’s latest creator-focused project is the Atelier Angels Pilot Program, in which the firm will seek to teach established influencers how to become successful angel investors. As opposed to one-off brand deals, Jin posits, creators who invest in startups can diversify their revenue streams and learn about building and growing their own businesses.

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Applications for the program are due by April 2, and the company is keeping its first cohort purposefully small — to less than 30 total participants. Interested parties need furnish profile links, investment proclivities, and more. The program costs $1,050 to attend, though Jin says “all proceeds will go towards supporting emerging creators and artists.”

Atelier Angels is looking for “creators with established audiences and capital to invest in early-stage companies,” it says, but there are no minimum follower counts. And while no prior investing experience is necessary, the program is “ideally” looking for accredited investors (a person with income over $200,000, or a net worth of over $1 million). However, unaccredited investors can still apply.

Atelier Angels will be led by Jin (pictured above), and comprises roughly two hours of coursework each week throughout May and June. Creators will learn the basic principles of investing from Jin — including how to source, pick, and win deals — and then put these learnings into practice by sitting in on real pitches from founders. Following pitches, participants will be able to ask questions, participate in group deal discussions, and even invest if they so choose.

Assisting Jin with the venture on the educational front will be TikTokers and business experts Chris Sutherland, Taylor Price, and Sandy Lin, as well as the YouTube comedian Markian Benhamou.

“There will be guest speakers, including other VCs and founders who’ve taken money from creators,” Jin tells Tubefilter. “My goal is for this to be an ongoing community where founders can come in and pitch all of us and get feedback and investment from creators. I really think the world would be better with more creators as investors, and I’m just here to help enable that.”

At Andreessen Horowitz, Jin became something of a thought leader in the creator startup space, penning a noteworthy essay in Oct. 2019 called The Passion Economy And The Future Of Work.

“Users can now build audiences at scale and turn their passions into livelihoods, whether that’s playing video games or producing video content,” she wrote. “This has huge implications for entrepreneurship and what we’ll think of as a ‘job’ in the future.”

In January, she launched a separate course on the creator economy, in which she taught live classes with guest speakers and case studies. The cost for that three-week workshop — targeting founders in the creator space, as well as executives and investors — was $1,250, and covered creator psychology as well as fundamentals of the field to help participants seize opportunities in the space.

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