The Latina founder behind Clara – an app for equal pay among creators of color – shares her strategy to get millions in funding

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While the majority of us skim through content every day, we don’t always think about the intricacies of the business side of the equation, especially for content creators of color.

Peruvian tech founder Christen Nino De Guzman first noticed the huge wage disparities between white creators and those from underrepresented groups as work headfirst in content creator programs on Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok.

And it was deeply frustrating: she told Insider, “I would see a Hispanic creator get paid half of what a white creator was paid and the Hispanic creator would get more followers.”

With a study showing a surprising pay gap of 29% between white and non-white content creators, a large part of the reason the disparity occurs in the first place is that “the creator doesn’t know what to price themselves and what prices are competitive.”

Now the first app of its kind from Nino De Guzman Claire change that. See creators she considered ‘family’ with ‘millions of followers’ [who] had no idea how to price themselves,” she pitched Clara as a social media-centric Glassdoor.

Just launched on desktop, iOS, and Android, creators can leave reviews for brands they’ve worked with and share their pricing, ensuring transparency across the board and helping people demand fair and equal pay.

While the idea behind Clara is amazing enough, the way the founder got it off the ground is equally mind-blowing: she sent cold messages to investors on LinkedIn until she finally got a “yes” . Closing $30 million in funding last yearwe sat down with Nino De Guzman to talk about reducing wage disparities for people of color, her advice for Latinx entrepreneurs, and even the exact model she used to get her funding.

1) Your Clara app works like a Glassdoor for content creators, giving them a platform to talk about the company’s pricing and reviews – and ensuring transparency at every level when it comes to payment. Can you tell us about your journey to Clara? What made you want to start it?

I’ve been working with content creators since 2015 on 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 participated in hundreds of sponsored campaigns with the world’s biggest brands. On almost every campaign, no matter the size or suite, I’ve seen extreme pay disparity.

2) You mentioned that Hispanic creators and influencers from underrepresented groups tend to be paid less than their white counterparts for content creation. As frustrating as this may sound, how will Clara counter this? And how can we all work individually to end wage disparity?

It’s been extremely frustrating to see creators from underrepresented groups get paid less. For creators to truly understand their value and be able to negotiate with confidence, they must have access to payment insights to price themselves effectively and understand competitive pricing. This is where Clara comes in. On an individual level, I think we should try to normalize the conversation by being transparent about our own compensation or salary. It is important that as a community we come together and share our knowledge!

3) As a Latina entrepreneur, you are a true inspiration to us all. You explained how you got funding for Clara from investors who send cold messages on LinkedIn and gave them your elevating pitch – an incredible feat considering American Latinx-owned companies only got 1.7 % venture capital in 2020. Can you tell us about your strategy?

Well, initially I started cold-contacting through Linkedin every VC or investor I could find. I had several meetings and finally was lucky enough to be introduced to a great investor named Prajit Nanu. I was so thankful that Prajit took a chance and trusted me. I knew if I could just build the product, I could get some traction. And it only took a “yes” even though I had so many no’s! It made me realize how difficult it is for women to start their own business.

Even though 2% of all venture capital funds went to women in 2021 – I wonder how much of that 2% was Hispanic. I’m sure out of the 2%, a big chunk of those women had an ivy league school on their resume. For my part, I had a 3.0 GPA and went to an untargeted school, but I was always a hard worker. I’ve had an incredible career so far and seen a truly unique opportunity to help people. Especially working so closely with various creator communities over the past two years. I wanted to help them by giving them access to the salary information they needed to be successful in their careers.

4) Did you use specific email templates for investors who send cold messages? And outside of LinkedIn, what else have you done to grow Clara into the app it is today?

I watched a ton of YouTube content on how to make a pitch deck and create a great pitch, 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 the information is readily available. It really helped me feel more confident during the presentation process.

Below is the email template used by Nino De Guzman for outreach on LinkedIn.

Subject: Startup Opportunity for Content Creators

Hi ___, I’m working on an exciting start-up/product for content creators that addresses a major problem that currently doesn’t exist in the industry. Hoping to contact 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. Hurry to connect!

5) Latinx people have so much to offer the world and Clara opens up opportunities through transparency and empowering marginalized communities. What advice would you give to aspiring Latinx content creators, business owners, and entrepreneurs of all backgrounds?

One of my favorite things about being Peruvian is how community and family oriented we are. I think we really should look into this aspect more when it comes to our business ventures and try to support each other and share our knowledge! As a community we are so much more powerful than we are as individuals.

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