The Latina Founder Behind Clara – an App for Equal Pay Among Creators of Color – Shares Her Strategy To Secure Funding
While the majority of us scroll through content every single day, we don’t always think about the intricacies on the business side of the equation — especially for content creators of color.
Peruvian tech founder Christen Nino De Guzman first noticed the massive pay disparities between white creators and those from underrepresented groups while working head-first in content creator programs at Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok.
And it was deeply frustrating: she told Insider, “I would see a Hispanic creator getting paid half of what a white creator was being paid and the Hispanic creator would have more followers.”
With a study showing a startling 29% pay gap between white and non-white content creators, much of the reason the disparity happens in the first place is because “the creator doesn’t have the knowledge of what to price themselves and what rates are competitive.”
Now, Nino De Guzman’s first-of-its-kind app Clara is changing that. Seeing creators she saw as “family” with “millions of followers [who] had no idea how to price themselves,” she started Clara as a social media-centered Glassdoor.
Just launched on desktop, iOS, and Android, creators can leave reviews about brands they’ve worked with, and share their rates — ensuring transparency across the board, and helping people demand fair, equal pay.
While the idea behind Clara is already incredible enough, the founder’s way of lifting it off the ground is equally jaw-dropping: she cold-messaged investors on LinkedIn until finally getting a “yes.” We sat down with Nino De Guzman to talk about closing pay disparities for people of color, her tips for Latinx entrepreneurs, and even the exact template she used to secure her funding.
1) Your app Clara works like a Glassdoor for content creators, giving them a platform to talk about company rates and reviews — and ensuring transparency across the board when it comes to pay. Can you talk about your background leading up to Clara? What inspired you to start it?
I’ve been working with content creators since 2015 at platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok. I’ve spent my career working with creators of all types and sizes. From millions of followers to micro-influencers. And the Latinx, Black, AAPI creator communities. I’ve been involved in hundreds of sponsored campaigns with the world’s largest brands. On almost every campaign, no matter the size or following, I saw extreme pay disparity.
2) You have referenced that Hispanic creators and influencers from underrepresented groups tend to get paid less than their white counterparts for content creation. As frustrating as it is, how will Clara counteract that? And how can we all work towards ending pay disparities on an individual basis?
It has been extremely frustrating to see creators from underrepresented groups get paid less. In order for creators to really understand their value and be in a position to negotiate confidently, they need to have access to pay information to effectively price themselves and understand competitive rates. That’s where Clara comes in. On an individual level, I think we should try to normalize the conversation by being transparent about our own pay or salary. It’s important that as a community, we come together and knowledge-share!
3) As a Latina entrepreneur, you are a true inspiration for all of us. You have referenced how you obtained funding for Clara from cold-messaging investors on LinkedIn and giving them your elevator pitch — an incredible feat considering Latinx-owned U.S. companies only received 1.7% of venture capital in 2020. Can you tell us about your strategy?
Well, initially I started cold outreach over Linkedin to every VC or investor I could find. I had several meetings and then ultimately was lucky enough to get introduced to a great investor named Prajit Nanu. I was so incredibly thankful that Prajit took a chance and had faith in me. I knew if I could just build the product, that I could get traction. And all it took was one “yes” even though I had so many no’s! It made me realize how hard it is for women to start their own companies.
Even though 2% of all VC funds went to women in 2021 — I wonder how much of that 2% were Hispanic. I’m sure of the 2% a large amount of those women had an ivy-league school on their resume. I, on the other hand, had a 3.0 GPA and went to a non-target school, but have always been a hard worker. I’ve had an amazing career so far and I saw a really unique opportunity to help people. Especially working so closely with diverse creator communities over the last couple of years. I wanted to help by providing them access to the pay information they needed to be successful in their career.
4) Did you use specific email templates for cold-messaging investors? And outside of LinkedIn, what else did you do to push Clara to become the app it is today?
I watched a ton of YouTube content on how to make a pitch deck and craft a great pitch and then used Canva to make a deck. There are a ton of great, free resources available online for entrepreneurs and I’m so thankful that information was easily accessible. It really helped me feel more confident during the pitching process.
Below is the email template Nino De Guzman used for outreach on LinkedIn.
Subject line: Start-up opportunity for content creators
Hi ___, I’m working on an exciting start-up/product for content creators which addresses a major pain point and does not currently exist in the industry. Hoping to connect with you to see if there is an opportunity to work together to bring this to market. I have years of experience working with content creators at IG, Pinterest and TikTok and am well connected in the industry. Look forward to connecting!
5) Latinxs have so much to offer the world and Clara is opening up opportunities through transparency, and empowering marginalized communities. What advice would you give to aspiring Latinx content creators, business owners, and entrepreneurs from all walks of life?
One of my favorite things about being Peruvian is how community and family-oriented we are. I think we should really lean into that aspect more when it relates to our business ventures and try to support one another and knowledge-share! As a community, we are so much more powerful than we are as individuals.