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media startup raises $2.3 million in Series A funding

Job­bing social media man­agers and com­mu­ni­ty man­agers may find the sto­ry behind the Detroit-based social media start­up an inspir­ing one. Giv­en that it’s just secured Series A fund­ing total­ing $2.3 mil­lion, it’s clear­ly doing some­thing very right.

A small idea leads to big success

Strik’s co-founders, 29-year-old Har­vard bud­dies Nathan Labenz and Jay Gier­ak (both of who were in the Class of 2006 with the founder of Face­book, him­self, Mark Zucker­berg) had gone their sep­a­rate ways after grad­u­a­tion. Gier­ak was work­ing with the invest­ment bank Mor­gan Stan­ley, while Labenz was run­ning his own busi­ness edit­ing resumes (as most social media man­agers can tes­ti­fy, find­ing time to keep your resume in tip-top con­di­tion with­out help isn’t easy).

Labenz came up with a mod­est mar­ket­ing idea:  he asked cus­tomers to rec­om­mend him to their friends if they’d liked his work, where­upon each friend received a $5 coupon. The result? Busi­ness blos­somed. Labenz puts it like this:

“The les­son was, your cus­tomers will do your adver­tis­ing for you for free if you just ask. And if refer­rals worked for find­ing cus­tomers for me, it would work for find­ing cus­tomers for others.”

Why’s social media man­agers are busy

Labenz came back to the U.S. and teamed up with his bud­dy Gier­ak in Sil­i­con Val­ley, where was first launched.  The com­pa­ny offers a free social media ser­vice allow­ing users to post and receive reviews on local ser­vice providers like accoun­tants, attor­neys, real-estate agents and mort­gage bro­kers. It now employs 10 peo­ple, and expects to be cash-pos­i­tive by the end of the year. Rev­enue is chiefly com­ing from adver­tis­ing, although a small­er amount comes from an upgrad­ed ser­vice cost­ing $29 per month.

And its social media man­ag­er and com­mu­ni­ty man­ag­er roles are like­ly to be hec­tic: the site now boasts 200,000 list­ed pro­fes­sion­als and has col­lect­ed around 2.5 mil­lion rec­om­men­da­tions and reviews.

The move to Detroit wasn’t sim­ply borne of home­sick­ness, although both co-founders are fel­low Detroi­ters. It was moti­vat­ed by the search for tal­ent: there are plen­ty of social media man­agers, com­mu­ni­ty man­agers and oth­er sought-after pros in Sil­i­con Val­ley, of course, but there are also plen­ty of com­pa­nies try­ing to snap them all up. Costs are low­er in Detroit, says Gier­ak, and there are “few­er com­pa­nies fight­ing for tal­ent here.”

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