May 6th, 2020
Founded by Kelsey Davis, CLLCTVE connects brands with Gen-Z consumers and Gen-Z content creators directly on its own platform. The startup team completed the LaunchPad Lift student entrepreneurship program in 2020.
Kelsey Davis found her voice through video production while still a high school student in Atlanta, GA. It was there that she learned how to record and edit videos and began working as a freelancer. Once at Syracuse University, Kelsey earned a BS in Television, Radio, and Film and after sharing her video production passion with creative friends (and hiring several of them to help her meet demand), she turned her part-time side gig, into CLLCTVE, a full-time business.
Through her minor, Innovation, Design & Startups, Kelsey learned a lot about conducting market research and product development. Her attention focused on understanding the needs of college creatives, ultimately creating the CLLCTVE platform. Eventually, she went on to earn a Masters of Entrepreneurship from Syracuse as well.
Blazing Her Own Trail
“I see entrepreneurship as problem-solving with a survival approach,” said Kelsey. “Being a young black woman growing up in Georgia, successfully graduating from Syracuse University and leading a venture-backed tech start-up is an anomaly.”
Since 2009, less than 1% of venture capital has been invested in black female founders.
“But navigating this journey successfully is not only survival - it’s also a model of entrepreneurship in itself,” said Davis. “Finding ways to be agile, finding a product-market fit for yourself personally, and continuously solving problems is entrepreneurship to me.”
There are platforms such as LinkedIn and Instagram that content creators have leaned towards to build a portfolio for themselves, but they don’t cater to content creators in the way CLLCTVE aims to do. CLLCTVE works to bridge the gap between creatives and brands by providing college students with a custom-built platform to develop their portfolio, showcase their skills, increase their visibility, and engage with brands.
Davis and her team of creators have already worked with brands including Coca-Cola, YMCA, Land Rover, and Conde Nast, and has been featured in publications like Adweek and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Above the Fold’ series.
Servant leadership is close to Kelsey’s heart and she’s been able to gain valuable lessons on the philosophy of the #GiveFirst mentality through the involvement of Techstars in the Launchpad Lift Program. Learning and growing in this unique environment in real-time is important to Kelsey and she now tries to implement into CLLCTVE.
“The give-first mentality,” said Davis on the most valuable lesson she’s gained through the Launchpad Lift Program. “#GiveFirst is rooted in this idea of a community where people give of themselves first, whether it’s time or talent, without expectation of something in return. The hope is that this raises the entire entrepreneurial community.”
LaunchPad Lift Experience
Over the course of her time in LaunchPad Lift, Kelsey and her team have accomplished a number of important goals. From gaining 1,000+ waitlist sign-ups, to growing their development team, and CLLCTVE even secured some additional investment over the course of the 10-weeks. Kelsey recognizes the mentors she had access to in the program were instrumental to her startup’s success. “Our Lift mentors were able to help us so much with product development and management. That made us stronger because there was some lack of experience win that area on our team.”
Impact of Coronavirus Pandemic
Unique among this year’s LaunchPad Lift cohort, the remote and virtual communication implications of the COVID19 health crisis actually present an opportunity to CLLCTVE. “Fortunately, the pandemic actually creates a larger need for our product,” said Kelsey. “We still need to create connections between our brands, creators, and customers without college students being physically on campus.”