Gen Z aren’t happy with the social media they grew up with, so they create the apps they want to use. A “social brand” app for creative teens and twenties, Tagg today announces $ 2 million funding round from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, former Facebook vice president of international growth Ed Baker , TripAdvisor Founder Stephen Kaufer, Pillar VC and more.
Founded by recent alumni of Brown University and the neighboring Rhode Island School of Design, Tagg is still in private beta with thousands of users and thousands more on a waiting list. It’s like a link service in bio, but with a social element that encourages young creatives to connect, collaborate, and develop friendships.
“In the digital world, the more authentic your brand, the more authentic your connections. Current social platforms are insufficient because they were not designed for this evolving intersection of brand and connection, ”the company explains. “Tagg creates and develops an environment that allows for complete creative expression of oneself – no restrictions, no stigma. “
Depending on how you use your profile (you might want a social profile, or you might want to promote your art and network), there are five profile skins to choose from when you log into the site. ‘application. From there, you can customize your page, then follow people and post content just like you would on any other app. But on Tagg, there isn’t a similar account on posts, which is an intentional design choice.
“WWe don’t have likes – just comments, shares and opinions – because we want our creatives to focus on themselves without the stigma, ”co-founder Victor Loolo told TechCrunch.
Especially among the Gen Z audience that Tagg is designed for, users don’t always want similar accounts because they know this can encourage them to compare themselves to their peers in a superficial way. Even U.S. Senators like Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have introduced legislation that would ban similar accounts for social media users under the age of 16, as it could harm the mental health of teenagers.
Tagg’s “social tagging” marketing may seem counterintuitive at first glance – the concept of branding can make you feel like you’re putting yourself in a box. But by design, Tagg encourages its users to step out of their comfort zone. Even though users create their profile using predefined skins, these are just suggestions – if users want to create their profiles from a blank slate and create their own categories to organize their content, they can do that.
“Profiles can look like anything, that’s the beauty of it. We wanted to move away from the traditional, restrictive and cookie-cutter profiles of all social applications, because as members of Generation Z, we place a lot of importance on freedom of expression and uniqueness ” , explained Loolo. “We wanted to find a friendly, user-friendly medium between a traditional profile and a blank page, which would be a challenge for a lot of people, so we went with profile skins. “
Tagg was inspired by Loolo’s own experience as a football player at Brown, where he found it difficult to define himself outside of his identity as a student athlete. This is what inspired him to create Tagg, alongside co-founders Blessing Ubani and Sophie Chen.
“People are kind of put in a box. Let’s say I’m a cooking videos guy on TikTok – I’m the cooking videos guy. But I might like video games and stuff, ”Loolo told TechCrunch. “We wanted to break with that and allow these creatives to create more holistic images of themselves. “
Tagg users are currently earning points for engaging with the platform – while those points are currently just a vanity feature, Loolo sees a potential future for the app.
“Although Tagg is not currently decentralized or tokenized, the principles of our platform reflect the values of web3, ”said Loolo. “One of our goals is to help our creatives understand that being directly rewarded for their content sharing and community participation is the solution to the problems of the creator economy, as opposed to sub- payment of creators’ funds and inconsistent branding agreements.
In the future, Tagg could allow users to earn a valuable coin or token. But for now, Tagg is focused on bringing more users from its waitlist and acquiring more users.
After graduating from college in 2020, the team moved to the Bay Area, where they continued to work on the app. With its recent funding, the application is recruiting to expand its team. Recently, Steven Fang joined Tagg as CTO and co-founder, bringing 15 years of engineering experience.