Who markets marketing? This duo started a VC firm to scale what ‘founders are hungry for’

Emily Kramer is well known in the marketing world both for her professional expertise and her voice. The entrepreneur was Carta’s former VP of marketing and made headlines in 2020 when she filed a lawsuit accusing the company of gender discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination and violation of the California Equal Pay Act.

Now, three years after the lawsuit was first filed, Kramer says the “matter was resolved.” Documents show that the settlement came a month before the case’s upcoming trial date. She declined to comment further.

“It definitely impacted where I am today in the sense that this is a turning point,” said Kramer, one of many former Carta employees with a legal department who have been embroiled in legal battles with the company. “I want to do something on my own terms, and I want to do something that I think matters and can make an impact. And I want to invest in companies that I think care about DEI.”

Enter MKT1a venture firm that Kramer builds alongside Kathleen Estreich, a leader on marketing and operations teams at Box, Facebook and Scalyr. MKT1, a play on their initials and the word “marketing,” closed $5 million in investment capital from more than 85 individuals last year. The company announced today that it is moving to a 506(c), which means it can publicly fundraise, hoping to raise another $5 million.

Estreich says their plan was always to start with a private fundraiser and — after gaining traction early on — move to a raise that would allow accredited investors from outside their community to invest. The strategy is similar to that of Sophia Amoruso, who spent a $1 million allocation on a public fundraiser, and Turner Novak, who is publicly raising for a tranche of his second fund after years of publicly building his corporate brand. Both entrepreneurs have solid online followings – and the same goes for Estreich and Kramer, who have a popular marketing-oriented newsletter with over 10,000 subscribers.

The two founders, who almost finished each other’s sentences during their interview with australiabusinessblog.com, want to reframe technology messaging around marketing — both by investing in companies in need of support and by bringing a network of marketing professionals into the angel investing world.

“You have to be as good at distribution as you are at building a product,” Kramer said. “We really think of marketing as a strategic lever and in some ways it’s underused and undersupported.” Part of the reason for that, she added, is that marketing results, unlike sales, are more difficult to measure and can lead to longer-term revenue goals rather than immediate short-term results.

The investors think there is an eagerness in the cohort of marketing professionals to not only shape stories, but also write checks. “Marketers don’t invest because they don’t get the chance to invest,” Kramer said, citing statistics showing that less than 1% of angel investors in Crunchbase’s investment database are marketers.

“They don’t know where to go. They’re not in these circles with the product people or the sellers — there’s just no inertia there, Kramer added. To date, more than half of the LPs in MKT1’s first close have come from the marketing world.

As the company works to rebrand marketing, MKT1 doesn’t just invest in marketing companies, but instead applies a marketing lens to potential investments and pursues companies they believe can help them on the go-to-market side. So far, it has invested in 14 startups, including Anrok, Pocus, Plain, and Vori.

“Founders are hungry for this,” Kramer said. We will tell them something very basic – we tell them complicated things too – but we will tell them something very basic, and they will say, ‘Oh my God, this changed the game for us.’”


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