TUESDAY 10 JAN 2023 4:15 PM


A new report shows that businesses whose leaders have a strong personal and social media brand receive more investor funding.

A report by PR agency Hard Numbers, and media intelligence firm CARMA, reveals that founders and CEOs of UK startups that invest in their personal and social media profile secure up to 20% more capital when fundraising.

According to the Coverage to Capital Report, unicorn companies whose founders had the largest LinkedIn following secured over £763 million in average investment, 20% more than the average for the UK’s entire cohort. Unicorns whose founders had the largest Twitter following secured over 5% more in total investment on average. Unicorns are defined as privately held companies which have achieved a valuation of more than one billion US dollars.

In earned digital and print media, founders of top-tier unicorns, which raised an average of £1.4 billion, were featured in 23% of their company’s press coverage on average. This compares with just 13% of leaders at mid-tier unicorns, which raised an average of £350.9 million, and only 14% of low tier unicorns, which raised an average of £130.8 million. The research looked at 64 startup unicorns in the UK.

“There’s a prevailing wisdom that a CEO or founder has a key role to play in ‘storytelling’ for their business, so we put this theory to the test,” says Darryl Sparey, managing director and co-founder of Hard Numbers.

The Coverage to Capital Report analysed 65,194 media articles, and over 10,000 LinkedIn and Twitter posts, to offer a comprehensive study of the media profile of these businesses and their founders.

“Our findings demonstrate that successful leaders are indeed those that paint a picture of the future for investors and customers alike. Unicorn CEOs and founders who command the largest media profile were more successful at raising capital than those who were less active,” Sparey continues. “This tells us that investors want to align themselves with leaders that have a clear and compelling story to tell. And when the story resonates, investor buy-in is more likely.”

Richard Bagnall, co-managing partner of CARMA, says: “Our analysis demonstrates a clear correlation between successful fundraising for unicorn businesses and the respective profile of their CEO or founder across traditional and social media channels.

“It provides timely insights for startup communications teams in an increasingly volatile investor market, showcasing the commercial importance of the ‘personal brand’ at a time when raising capital is harder than ever before.”

The most active founders on social media include Gymshark’s Ben Francis and Brewdog’s James Watt, while Starling’s Anne Boden is among those most active in earned media.