Announcing Ampersand

by El Cap in May 3rd, 2021

An idea that shapes a lot of our thinking at El Cap is how technology can enable and empower people to do their best work. This theme runs throughout our portfolio. Unstack makes it easy for a company to build and manage an online presence, regardless of their level of technical ability. Friday helps people be more productive at their jobs, offering a command center of work for distributed teams. Bid Ops provides tremendous leverage to procurement teams at many of the largest companies in the world with sourcing software that makes their jobs faster, easier, and more efficient. Revive leverages a host of technology tools to provide superior ad optimization and service quality to clients of all sizes. In the spirit of continuing to empower people to do their best work, we’re excited to announce our lead investment into Ampersand, a product studio building a suite of tools to help creators build, grow, and manage their businesses.

Small businesses have served as an important pillar of the American economy for hundreds of years. Before the internet, small businesses typically only served their local communities. But with widespread mobile phone adoption, prevalent global high-speed connectivity, burgeoning online marketplaces, and always-on social media, access to customers is no longer determined by physical location. This has expanded both the pool of potential buyers and the number viable business models for a new venture, an unlock that is dramatically changing the form a small business can take. And one of the fastest growing and most impactful of these new forms is the creator led business. Creators are a new class of entrepreneurs building businesses around something they create—whether it be video content, blog posts, visual art, or a physical good. These businesses are online first, transact across borders, leverage third-party services, build audiences on platforms they don’t own, and often generate multiple revenue streams through different activities. The opportunity set for these creators is different than that of the local Mom & Pop small business from a few decades ago, but so too are the challenges. Having a set of tools built specifically for—rather than retrofitted to meet—the complex realities of building and running a creator business will be a massive unlock for millions of operators.

As the creator economy has grown, a handful of creators have with massive followings have earned enough money to hire a team of people to manage and support of their business. But the majority of internet-first small businesses are run by one or two people with hopes of turning a passion or interest of theirs into a viable full-time job. If passion is the catalyst for someone to start on the creator business journey, Ampersand is building the infrastructure to support them on this new path of entrepreneurship. Empowering creators to be more engaged and connected with supporters, making it easier for them to manage the complexity innate to their business, and improving their monetization efforts is an important mission, and Ampersand's first products are pushing the ball forward here. Directs, an SMS marketing platform, lets creators build one-to-one relationship with their community, instead of competing for their attention. Dropsite, will help creators build a social moment around their next drop. Shift Series is a bi-weekly event focused on education and best-practices for creators.

At El Cap, we envision a future where more people work for themselves, connect directly with their fans, customers, and users instead of through intermediaries, and are able to monetize through multiple channels of engagement. There is a significant shift happening in what a career can be, and the entire infrastructure around supporting this kind of entrepreneurship has to be reimagined. We’re excited to support Ampersand as they enable this next wave of global entrepreneurship.

- @stewbradley & @kunaltandon

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