💸 How Memes Can Make You Millions

Why you should stop doubting, and start designing

Hey Founders,

☕️ Welcome back to the Kernal Newsletter: the uber driver that skips the “how’s a going” cuz we’re already belting out to your fav artist on full blast 🎶

📰 Latest news: Everyone’s pulling money out of SVB and sharing SXSW tweets. Global carbon emissions hit a record high in 2022. Twitter revenue’s down 40% YoY. Reid Hoffman’s leaving OpenAI's board. Stability AI’s raising at a $4B valuation. Salesforce is adding ChatGPT to Slack. And we called out 16 women founders smashing ceilings.

Let’s get to it.👇

Canva makes founders feel like Picasso. It’s a design tool that lets you spin up anything. And I mean flipping anything. From birthday cards, to pitch decks, to memes in your slack that’ll make your staff die laughing. The ideas are endless. So go create a free Canva account and get riffing already. When you fall in love, you can thank us later.

Have a message you wanna share with 10,000+ smart, good looking and curious founders? Smash that button below 👇

Today's Menu:

  • 💸 How humour can help you raise millions (no joke)

  • 💡 Fresh ideas for you to up-vote or add to

  • 🐦 Top tweets of the week

💸 How Humour Helps Raise Money

Nobody talks about humour. But it’s a hidden gold mine. So we’re gonna take a swing at explaining it to you. By the of this ramble, you should feel up to speed on why you should:

  • care about it

  • leverage it for your startup

  • and finesse it to raise more money

The other day, I was reading in an internet friend’s blog about how Turner Novak (absolute Twitter legend) raised $35M through the leverage of memes. I paused. Looked up to the sky in disbelief. Then did a little digging. And sure enough, it checked out.

Since ya’ll are all busy building startups, we’ll cut to the chase on who Turner is, and how he leveraged the hell out of memes and finessed it to raise $35m. Hold onto your hot coffee, we’re diving in.

Who’s Turner Novak?

  • He’s the builder behind Banana Capital, a VC fund he started largely due to the memes and shitposting he had been doing on platforms like Twitter and Tiktok. (talk about monetizing goals as a creator). Homies are out there getting 50% off an Airbnb booking. Turner raised $35m. Take notes kids.

  • People like Chamath and Tobi reply to his tweets (above)

  • Some top videos include this tweet, this Tik Tok and this post has to be one of my all-time favs

  • What’s unique about Turner is he was a nobody in the tech world 10 years ago. He broke into the tech world making people laugh. And after a while, they trusted him with their money.

Top Nuggets from Turner’s Interview:

  • Back in 2017, Turner realized his memes/shitposts started performing better than his serious stuff. This became is signal to dive deeper

  • He was conscious about being too playful but at the end of the day he came back to focusing on “you can’t please everyone”

  • Gaut asked Turner if his humour angle gives him an advantage as an investor His reply was: “Absolutely. Too many people take themselves way too seriously. My job is to meet and build trust with talented and ambitious founders as early as possible. Often times this means showing your personality and playfully poking fun of things is one way to do that.”

  • How Turner’s fund has performed: “I wrote my first check in Q4 of 2019, so it's still very early, but as of today I've had three exits and four seed investments that are now unicorns (based on prior rounds or public comps). So I think the founders we're getting in front of and working with are very high quality.

The Superpower Time Savers Behind Memes

  1. Brilliant top-of-funnel awareness: Turner says almost 100% of the founders he meets are already very familiar with me and Banana, so we don't spend much time pitching

  2. Higher Capacity to Execute: with less time on pitching, Turner now gets to give more capacity to spend time with and add value to existing portfolio companies

  3. Better for the End Goal: Turner’s intuition is “this will lead to good cash returns to our investors over the next decade.”

Wanna Get Started with Memes?

Take Turner’s advice:

  • Get ready to put in the leg work. Be prepared for 16-20 hour days, especially when you fire off multiple bangers in one afternoon.

  • Tactically, he recommends finding an underserved niche in something you're naturally curious and/or passionate about. Create content around it and then expand over time.

  • Think in long-term decades. If you want to get into shitposting / memes, think about what the long-term goal is. Is it just for fun? Is it as some sort of marketing? Either is fine, and for me if (I'm going to get analytical about it) it's worked very well as a top-of-funnel for brand awareness.

Thanks to Gaut for sharing this original interview and Turner for dropping these gems for our founders that like to build in public.

Here’s to hoping you can sprinkle a bit more strategic humour into your marketing game. And who knows, it could just raise you millions of dollars like it did for Turner 5 years later.

Liked this deep dive? Share your thoughts in a tweet. If you hated it, let us know and we’ll change it up next week. We love founders almost as much as we love raw feedback.

Fresh Startup Ideas 

Opportunity: The global team collaboration software market is projected to grow from $17.15 billion in 2021 to $40.79 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 13.2% in the forecast period.

Focus: Huddl's goal is to provide virtual immersive office space to help address these challenges.

Competitors: Zoom. Google Meet, Teams are the current collaborative tools. Where as Gathertown and roam tend to be the competitors that try to innovate this space. Roam raised $30 million in November 2023 and Gather.town raised $77 million.

Problem: Youtubers Hard to verify the quality of video editors, designers, etc. A lot of bots. Hard to find good video editors, designers, etc.

Solution: fast and efficient hiring of either team members or contractors (freelancers) who are verified to support top end creators. Share the backstage content or anything they cannot share otherwise. Network with other YouTubers/contractors. Avoid bots.

Why we like it: The AI market was valued at 387 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow to 1,394 bn. As more advances are made that can help the creative industry in prototyping, ideating, and producing, these industries need to receive the latest tech to allow them to produce their work faster with the help of new technologies and AI.

Solution: Styre.xyz creates an end-to-end platform that allows creative professionals to iterate fast and produce quick creations for how they want their end products to look and feel with their teams

More Startup Ideas catching our eyes:

Got an idea to toss in the ring? Stop waiting for the right time and post it already.

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👏 Meet 16 Women Smashing Ceilings

Kernal’s a community of over 10,000 folks. But it can be hard to keep track of everyone.

Our team put together a post highlighting 16 power women you should know. If you’re building a startup, we guarantee you’ll benefit from knowing them.

Dive in and let us know what you think.

📩 Gems In Our Inbox:

🐦 Tweets of the Week

Enough reading and rhyming. Go on and have yourself a fantastic weekend founders.

💚 The Kernal Fam

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