Snapchat’s newest power users: Entrepreneurs with advice for startups

Snapchat has already established that it’s not just for teens: Brands have spent big on it during the Super Bowl, while colleges and agencies have turned to geofilters for recruitment. Now, the platform can add a new type of power user to its growing list of acolytes: advice-giving tech bros.

Navid Nathoo, product manager for cloud story company Box and investor for online all-over-print shop RageOn!, has been experimenting with Snapchat over the past two months, where he shares his insights on entrepreneurship, investment as well as sales and marketing. 

“What’s up, Snapchat? Now I’m just lying in my bed thinking about my early startup days,” said Nathoo in his most recent Snapchat Story. “Not long time ago, I was sleeping in my friends’ couches and air mattresses versus now in my $5,000 plus bed — I’ve learnt to appreciate the things that I have.”

Nathoo thinks that Snapchat is a very personal platform and its video functionality helps him save a lot of time from writing and proofreading posts on LinkedIn. “I have a really tight schedule every day. With Snapchat, I don’t need to spend time going over my writing and worry about grammatical errors,” said Nathoo. “The platform is so natural for me. I can just click and speak my mind without preparing anything.”

He continued that since Snaps only live for 24 hours, viewers can always find fresh content and feel an urgency to consume the information that’s available. In terms of measurement, Nathoo can track who is watching his Snaps as well as see the drop-off rate and who is most engaged.

For the time being, Nathoo doesn’t plan to use any paid features like geofilers during his educational Snapstorms (a conversational debate that usually consists of more than 50 Snaps in Nathoo’s case), but he may use them for events that are tied to a specific geography. “I don’t see value [in those paid features] at the moment,” said Nathoo.

Meanwhile, Mark Suster, partner of tech venture capital Upfront Ventures, has been snapping about the lessons learned as an investor and entrepreneur over the past four months. On Monday night, he posted a video on Snapchat teaching viewers how to email a venture capitalist. “If you email a VC and want to make an introduction, just email one person,” he suggested.

“My target audience is 21- to 32-year-old entrepreneurs who need early-stage capital, and this group is on Snapchat,” Suster told Digiday. “It would be crazy if I’m not on a platform where my audience is.”

Mark Suster on Snapchat
Mark Suster on Snapchat

For Suster, Snapchat is like his video blog where he posts six times a week. Suster’s My Story lasts around two to six minutes and receives an average of 8,000 viewers within 24 hours. He likes the time constraint on Snapchat that keeps each snap within 10 seconds. “It makes you hyper-efficient,” said Suster. “If you are broadcasting on live-streaming platforms, you need to keep talking so viewers can easily lose their interest.”

Justin Kan, partner of startup incubator Y Combinator and co-founder of Twitch, has also been experimenting with Snapchat in the past four months. Last Wednesday, he initiated a Snapchat pitch competition where a group of select startup owners will take over his Snapchat account between May 23 and 26. Each finalist will have an hour to pitch their business to Kan and his partners at Y Combinator. The winner will get an interview opportunity for a potential $20,000 investment.

Justin Kan on Snapchat
Justin Kan on Snapchat

Navid Nathoo, Mark Suster and Justin Kan are very early adopters in the tech community who are using Snapchat for business purposes. As more business professionals are signing up for Snapchat, some think that it may pose a threat to LinkedIn. But both Nathoo and Suster believe that the latter will continue to be the de facto business-networking platform for everyone. After all, people use Snapchat for entertainment and now learning, instead of networking.

“Snapchat is starting to act as an entertaining and educational extension of LinkedIn,” said Nathoo. “[But] if it ever wants to become a networking platform, Snapchat is missing fundamental features like search.”

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