From Hollywood To Startupland: Storyblaster Raises $2.5M Seed

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Maxine Lapiduss is an award-winning producer and writer, having worked on shows such as “Roseanne,” “Home Improvement” and “Ellen.”

So over the years, she’s learned a thing or two about storytelling.

Now she’s taking that expertise to another level in the formation of a new startup called Storyblaster. The social media marketing platform’s aim is to help companies increase engagement, sales, audience and funding by helping them tell their stories in a more engaging and authentic way, according to Lapiduss. And the company just closed on a $2.5 million seed round to help in that goal.

Los Angeles-based venture funds Act One Ventures and Stage Venture Partners co-led the round, putting in $1.3 million. A number of angel investors from the media and entertainment world contributed the remaining $1.2 million, including Jordan Roth, president of Jujamcyn Theatres (“Frozen,” “Mean Girls,” “Kinky Boots,” “Book of Mormon”); Ron Simons, lead producer of “Ain’t Too Proud the Temptations Musical,” and Michael Montgomery, president of Montgomery and Co., an investment bank focused on the the internet space.

Storyblaster co-founders Hillary Carlip and Maxine Lapidus

In conjunction with the financing, Storyblaster also is announcing it has inked a three-year partnership with L.A. Comic-Con to support its own expansion as well as that of their 575 exhibitors. It’s also signed on Sundance Co//ab, Outfest and Indiegogo as clients.

I interviewed Lapiduss on the phone this week to learn more about her new venture, which she co-founded with partner Hillary Carlip.

Authentic storytelling

Storyblaster claims it is “the first-ever story-based social media marketing platform built on data from over 300,000 successful campaigns.” Prior to Storyblaster, Lapiduss ran Lapiduss Creative, which specialized in branding and creating platforms for businesses and creatives. Over time, Lapiddus has scrapped “massive amounts of material” from different social media platforms to analyze what worked and what didn’t.

Storyblaster’s initial focus was on helping people with crowdfunding campaigns. But the company has evolved and now, Lapiduss said, the goal is to help small and midsize businesses, creatives, online merchants and nonprofits gain exposure and followers and thus, increase sales and funding. It wants to do this by giving brands a way to custom-create their own narrative-driven social and video content, and advertising campaigns.

“We make it really easy for those who don’t know how to articulate what they’re doing and why they’re doing it to share their stories,” Lapiduss told me. “Because until now, if you couldn’t afford to pay millions of dollars to a branding company or an ad agency, you were screwed.”

Storyblaster, which is a SaaS operator, provides templated social media campaigns. It does things like give a story prompt so that someone can “authentically” share what their product or service is.

“Most people just don’t know what they’re supposed to say,” Lapiduss told me. “So we help them with the where, how and why. We make it easy for people to be authentic, and share why something is their passion.”

Storyblaster offers three different plans. One is free and offers five days of story prompts and guidance. Another is a three-day a week plan, which costs $39 a month. And then there’s a $79 a month plan that offers a broader suite of features.

Chris DeMoulin, CEO of L.A. Comic Con, said his organization was “so impressed with Storyblaster’s templates and the results from their built-in ad buying” that it has given all its exhibitors a free subscription and a $50 Facebook/Instagram ad credit.

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