About a year ago, Xiaoyin Qu had an idea for a digital platform that would enable people to collaborate with and learn from others, even if they didn’t share the same location.
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Her company, Run the World, was inspired by an international conference Qu’s mother, a pediatrician, attended in 2019. While there, her mother met another pediatrician who shared the same type of patient case. The two doctors eventually collaborated.
“I started thinking that while it is good to have access to things like medical papers, access to other people offered her the most amount of value,” Qu told Crunchbase News. “I was inspired to start the company, and to democratize interactions with people and have them happen more often.”
The idea turned into a way for organizers to run an event entirely risk-free and save 90 percent of the costs of a physical event, she said.
Today, her Mountain View, California-based company is three months into its launch, and the platform has not only hosted more than 2,400 events, it attracted 17 venture capital and angel investors who backed Run the World’s $11 million Series A round of funding announced Thursday.
The Series A is co-led by Connie Chan at Andreessen Horowitz and Keith Rabois at Founders Fund, and includes participation from Will Smith’s Dreamers VC, Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat Capital, Green Bay Ventures and GGV Capital, as well as a group of existing angel investors.
The new investment brings the total raised by the company to $15 million, Qu said. That includes a seed funding round of $4.3 million led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation by others, including GSR Ventures, Pear Ventures, 122 West Ventures and Unanimous Capital.
One of the platform’s most popular features is Cocktail Party, a socializing feature in which attendees create eight to 10 meaningful relationships in the span of one hour. Qu said the side conversations happening at conferences and events are the most fruitful, but when someone doesn’t know anyone else in the room, it’s hard to strike up a conversation.
“You are matched with someone in the room every five minutes,” she added. “Introverts love it because they don’t have to reach out to each other. Instead of standing around with a drink in your hand–hoping someone approaches you–you are serendipitously matched with someone who might turn out to have the same interests.”
Plans for the new funding include scaling the business to reach new verticals, build out the platform for Android and iOS, invest more in features, and double its team, Qu said.
Run the World has 30 employees and is expected to increase that count by 50 percent by the end of the year, she said.
“By investing in an engineering team, increasing investment on video, and supporting an international angle, we will continue enabling people to create an event, even if they have never done it before, and to engage with other people,” Qu said.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias