Have you ever wondered what would happen if you combined Shark Tank with influencer marketing? Karat Financial‘s new series shows us what that concept looks like.
The fintech company, which is known for launching a credit card that is used by many top creators, has debuted a show that helps startups go Supernova. The program gives founders the opportunity to pitch their products to a dragons’ den of YouTube and TikTok stars. Like on Shark Tank, the founders who appear on Supernova are looking to secure support. But in addition to providing straightforward investments, the featured influencers can back the startups they like by coming on board as a “creator partner.”
Karat held its first Supernova event back in April. Encouraged by positive feedback, the financial firm set up another round of pitches in August, and it secured a larger venue with help from sponsor Breeze. Karat then assembled a powerful group of creators to listen to the spiels. Gamer JustaMinx, sketch comedian Adam W, Patreon co-founder Jack Conte, real estate expert Graham Stephan, and linguist Marina Mogilko entertained four startups in front of an audience of over 100 creators.
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The new Supernova episodes portray creator investors as more flexible than traditional venture capitalists. Rather than fixating on money, valuations, and ROIs, these sharks are curious about community building, marketing, and brand development. “More than ever, founders understand the importance of building community and organic distribution for their companies,” Karat co-founder Eric Wei told Tubefilter. “They want to bring in creators who genuinely care about what they’re building — who can help spread the word.”
At the time of this post, three full episodes from Supernova II have been released on the Karat YouTube channel, with one more pitch to come. Karat is also promoting the show with short-form content on YouTube and Instagram.
Wei told Tubefilter that Supernova was partially inspired by Karat’s own funding history. 75 creators have backed the company after initially obtaining its card, and Karat recognized that those entrepreneurial influencers were eager to discover more investment opportunities. “Our mission is helping creators with their business and finances and we see this as a natural extension of that,” Wei said.
Ultimately, Supernova is as much of a boon for the featured creators as it is for the startup founders. Among all these pitches, there are plenty of opportunities for natural, tight-fitting sponsorships, which are becoming more lucrative in the booming creator economy.
“Good creators create content around their passions. Similarly, as investors, creators especially care about investing in companies that support those passions,” Wei told Tubefilter. “For example, Minx invested in Voidpet because she’s a gamer who also aligned with Voidpet’s mission of mental health.”
Supernova is not the only initiative Karat has used to prop up its cardholding creators. Earlier this year, it put its partners’ faces on billboards in New York and Los Angeles.