Undrip

Rapping for dollars

November 18, 2011: 11:50 AM ET

Is a Web startup's video plea for funding a sign of the bubble, or just clever marketing?

Mick Hagen is a serial entrepreneur, having recently sold his first company to textbook rental Chegg. Now he's back with a new company called Undrip, which promises to optimize social media consumption.

But Undrip isn't making waves this week because of its ability to find signals within the social media noise. It's because Hagen and company unveiled a well-produced rap video that doubles as a plea for angel funding. The company also filmed more than a dozen lower-quality spots targeted at specific investors like Reid Hoffman and Ashton Kutcher.

So I spent a few minutes on the phone with Mick, who wrote a guest post for us back in March. What follows is an edited transcript of our conversation:

Fortune: Why did you decide to do the videos?

Mick Hagen: It was really that we wanted to have some fun, and get exposure that could help when trying to hire people. Let them know that we're fun and that this is a great place to work. It wasn't really about getting funded, because I think I'm pretty well connected and could raise money without this. But we needed an angle and picked funding. The tone of the whole video is that we're desperate, but that isn't really the case.

It seems you've already gotten replies from some of the VCs who targeted. For example, Fred Wilson tweeted that he'll meet with you when he's in San Francisco after Thanksgiving. And you mentioned getting an email from Ron Conway. Did you already know most of them?

I know some, but Fred is an example of someone I don't know. He saw the video and now we're going to get a meeting with him. In general we've gotten a lot of response so far. About half of them are the people we directly reached out to, but it's gotten a lot of buzz so other people have gotten in touch with us who we didn't specifically name.

Does this change your actual funding plans?

Yeah, it may. I kind of want some of the investors that backed us with Zinch, but there are so many investors out there who have emailed me that it's opened my eyes a bit. The difference between this company and Zinch is that, with Zinch, at the beginning we just needed money and didn't care who it came from. With this we're being very selective.

Who wrote and produced the main video?

I have a buddy who was in a hip-hop group, named David F. Peterson. He's the guy in the second verse and he's pursuing a rap career in Los Angeles, which is why he's the only guy in the video who knows how to flow. So he came up for a month because we wanted to do this legit with extremely high production values. He and I collaborated on the lyrics and we got a local production studio to do the video. We did the investor wraps on our own.

The goal was to make people say, "Wow, this is a good song and I'm going to put it on my iTunes playlist so I cam bump to it on the treadmill at the gym. We wanted to create a song that will get us invited to tech conferences, because people will think about it. Basically rise above the noise."

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