Shine Talent Group expands beyond management with angel investment fund

By 08/03/2023
Shine Talent Group expands beyond management with angel investment fund
Jess Hunichen and Emily Ward are the co-founders of Shine Talent Group

The Shine Talent Group is making a big bet on the creator economy. The talent management and brand partnerships agency has announced Shine Ventures, an angel fund that will target early-stage startups working within the digital ecosystem.

Jess Hunichen and Emily Ward, who started Shine as a PR agency before getting into creator representation, will apply 30 years of combined experience to their new initiative. Shine Ventures’ overall goal is to back startups that are “building technology for the creator economy,” but the fund will also have different themes for each year of its operation. To start, Hunichen and Ward will champion companies related to women’s health, according to a press release.

Shine Ventures won’t just offer monetary support to the startups it backs. The fund will also connect to Shine’s talent network, which includes dozens of creators across categories like fashion, beauty, wellness, and food. Those creators will help Shine-backed companies test products and develop influencer marketing strategies.

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“Given our diverse network of talent and experience working with both emerging and Fortune 500 brands, we are excited to invest in bold early-stage founders and offer them unique insights about the content creation space, along with a built-in marketing microphone that other funds don’t have,” Ward said in a statement. “We are looking for ambitious founders that are exceptional storytellers, with companies featuring strong social proof and community engagement.”

The first Shine Ventures theme is a fitting choice for the Los Angeles-based talent firm. Many of the creators Shine represents, such as Alicia McCarvell and Mik Zazon, center topics like health, wellness, and body positivity in the content they upload. Hunichen and Ward co-founded The BodCon, a virtual conference themed around body confidence. They sold that venture to Trafilea in 2022.

Shine is not the first creator economy company to add investing to its list of services. Night Media, known for its affiliation with stars like MrBeast, teamed up with The Chernin Group to launch Night Capital last year. A few months after that, fintech company Karat Financial helped some of its partners launch their own version of Shark Tank.

Though Shine Ventures is a newly-announced addition to Hunichen and Ward, the two Shine co-founders already have some experience in the VC world. They have already invested in norm, a company that helps influencers scale their revenue.

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