Miami Herald Startup Pitch Contest
Don’t miss the mini-profiles on the product and service innovations of six South Florida startups that won top honors in this year’s Miami Herald Startup Pitch competition.
Natalie Barbu has been a content creator since her high school days, making beauty and fashion videos on YouTube. She continued to post lifestyle content while in college, where she majored in engineering. About three years ago, she quit her day job at a business consulting firm to create social media content full-time.
Now Barbu has founded a startup, Rella, to facilitate the business side of being a content creator. It’s the company she wished she’d used when she became a content creator and social media influencer.
“One thing that I had always struggled with was having the tools behind me that really allowed me to treat what I was doing as a business. And so I really thought there had to be a better way to run it. this business rather than what I was doing, which was a bunch of Excel spreadsheets using project management tools,” said Barbu, who founded the company (rellasocial.com) in 2021.
She and her two co-founders, both with tech expertise, launched a minimal viable product in January and the startup is accelerating new features and acquiring more users. So far, Rella, who was selected as the first 2022 Miami Herald Startup Pitch Competition Community Pitch Finalist, has attracted 6,400 users. The track was run by Endeavor Miami, the startup support and networking group with expertise in scaling startups.
Before they launched, they spoke to influencers, shared what they were building, and held focus groups to gather feedback. “When it was time to launch, we already had a great community that was already supporting us,” Barbu said.
Barbu’s current team is made up of its co-founders, Nick Kane and Connor Boyce, and five part-time entrepreneurs. Barbu has raised a small fundraising round among friends and family and will soon be raising funds. The startup is now pre-revenue but intends to introduce tiers for monthly subscriptions.
Before launching Rella, Barbu ran an e-commerce store for about a year and also ran a consulting agency that helped other influencers and brands grow their social media presence. What she learned from these other projects is the importance of community. The challenge now is to keep up with user growth and scale while trying to raise funds.
“Lots of new features that help influencers understand their earnings. It’s really how we take Rella – making sure influencers understand incoming revenue, their projected revenue, expenses, analytics, and view it as a real business rather than just a hobby,” said she declared. “We’re made for creators by creators, and we’re building this alongside them.”
This story was originally published May 8, 2022 6:00 a.m.