Polina Marinova on the future of media 🔮

For this week's exclusive, we caught up with Polina Marinova, Founder at The Profile. We discussed:

  • The most complex story she covered at Term Sheet ✍️

  • Why she left Fortune to bootstrap her own company 📈

  • Why the passion economy is heating up 🔥

  • The most overlooked topic in Venture capital 💰

  • The future of media 🔮


Polina Marinova, Founder at The Profile

TCT: Thanks for sitting down with us, Polina. You’ve been writing for over a decade. What sparked your interest in journalism? 

My love for journalism began when I joined the newspaper staff in high school. I quickly figured out that journalism is history in motion. As a reporter, you get to talk to interesting figures, document important events, and arm readers with information that helps them make better decisions in life.

You spent 5 years with Fortune. What was one of the most challenging stories you covered during your time with The Term Sheet

It was a feature on Kleiner Perkins that explained why Mary Meeker and her growth investing team decided to split off from the venture firm. It took me about six months to interview dozens of people, understand the nuances of the story, and nail every fact. It was challenging because few people agreed to speak on the record, so I had to work hard to verify the tiniest details and ensure that the story was told in an accurate and fair way. 

You’ve covered thousands of deals across multiple industries. What industries were the most captivating to you? 

I’m fascinated by what’s going on in the media space at the moment. The “passion economy” is on the rise, and we’re seeing big personalities with big reach strike some massive deals (ie: Joe Rogan’s $100M licensing deal with Spotify). 

We’re also seeing numerous reporters at high-profile publications leave traditional media companies to start paid independent newsletters on their own. It allows them to create a direct relationship with the reader and turn their passion into a real, robust business.

What is a topic in venture capital that you think deserves more attention? 

It’s important to start addressing the future of the venture industry itself.I think we’re about to see a new generation of entrepreneurs ask themselves the question, “Does it even make sense for me to raise venture capital?” In the last several years, the market has been frothy, and raising venture money has been relatively easy for many new founders. But we’ve also seen that VCs funded plenty of startups whose models didn’t scale in the way necessary to generate large enough returns to satisfy investors. (Don’t even get me started on startups that raise billions of dollars before they even launch a product.) 

As the bull market grinds to a halt, growth will slow, and many of these unicorn companies will come crashing back to earth. I think the days of fast growth, aggressive spending, and spiraling losses are over. What’s old will become new again — discipline, focus, and profitability are here to stay. 

What was your inspiration for starting The Profile? 

I think people learn best by hearing or reading about the successes, mistakes, and experiences of other people. If you hear about an experience someone else went through, you’re able to relate to it so much more than you would if it was just presented as an abstract idea.

I found myself drawn to longform journalism for that exact reason, and I decided to create a newsletter that would house the best, most interesting profiles of people and companies every week. 

How do you go about selecting people for ‘The Profile’? 

I look for three key things: 1) the subject has to be interesting and multi-layered; 2) an interesting narrative that allows the reader to learn from the person’s successes and missteps; 3) the story has to grab you immediately with an intriguing lead. 

The best profiles are typically those that showcase the various layers of a person and allow you to learn something about them and from them. So I’m very much drawn to complicated characters that don’t have the stereotypical career path. A great profile also allows you to visualize the person by describing in detail their mannerisms and quirks that make them them.

What is the biggest difference between working at Fortune and running The Profile? 

At Fortune, I wrote about entrepreneurship. At The Profile, I’m living it. I love the feeling of being in control of my own destiny. On any day, I can decide what I do, how I spend my time, and who I do business with. I learned everything at Fortune, and I owe so much to the editors who took interest in helping me grow and develop. Now, I’m able to take what I’ve learned and build something meaningful on my own. There’s no better feeling.

Do you have any expansion plans for The Profile? 

I’d love to expand into more original content, perhaps even writing original profiles rather than curating them.

Who’s on The Profile’s cap table?

Just me!

Do you have any mentors? How have they helped play a part in your success? 

If I’m being honest, my parents have been my greatest mentors in my life and my career. I watched how hard they worked when we first moved from Bulgaria to the United States, I saw them make a name for themselves, and I saw them become entrepreneurs. They have supported me unconditionally even if they thought there was a chance I’d fail, and the biggest lesson I’ve learned from them is you can be more than one thing in this life. If you have the desire, you can always find a way to reinvent yourself and learn something new.

The year is 2030. What’s the state of media? How are people consuming content? 

I think people will subscribe to people. They will get their news from individuals whom they trust. Some of the biggest news organizations will survive, but the news economy as we know it today will not look the same. I also believe that people will grow accustomed to paying for hyper-specialized newsletters and podcasts that give them deeper insights than the average general news site can offer.

Thank you for your time and thoughts, Polina. We look forward to the continued success of you and The Profile!

The best tech companies are built behind Felix Grays

Notable Deals 5/25-5/29

Deal of the week:

Series Seed

  • Almanac raises $ 9,000,000 led by Floodgate | Almanac is a cloud-based platform for professionals to create, collaborate, and share open-source work documents.

  • BeeHero raises $ 4,000,000 | Combining sophisticated machine learning algorithms with low-cost sensors to stimulate full output potential during peak pollination cycles.

  • Caraway raises $ 5,300,000 led by Republic Labs | Caraway is on a mission to craft well-designed, non-toxic ceramic cookware.

  • Census raises $ 4,300,000 led by Andreessen Horowitz | Census is a data automation platform that syncs data warehouses with the apps ops teams.

  • Datch raises $ 3,200,000 led by Blue Bear Capital | Datch is an intelligent voice assistant for industry.

  • Floating Point Group raises $ 2,000,000 | Floating Point Group is a cryptocurrency trading platform that offers smart order routing for the cryptocurrency markets.

  • Gali Health raises $ 3,000,000 | AI-powered mobile personal health assistant

  • Greyparrot raises $ 1,825,000 led by Speedinvest | AI-based computer vision solutions to power next-generation robotics and smart systems for the waste management industry.

  • Kippo raises $ 2,000,000 led by Primer Sazze Partners | Kippo is a dating and social app for gamers

  • Magic raises $ 4,000,000 led by Placeholder | Make passwords disappear with a touch of Magic.

  • Poplar raises $ 2,100,000 led by Fuel Ventures | Poplar is a creative platform that builds 3D and AR experiences for on-demand AR campaigns.

  • RemoteHQ raises $ 2,700,000 led by TECHU, Underscore VC | RemoteHQ is a Internet Company.

  • Rise Gardens raises $ 2,600,000 led by True Ventures | Rise Gardens is a smart indoor hydroponic gardening system.

  • RudderStack raises $ 5,000,000 led by S28 Capital | Open Source Customer Data Routing and Processing Platform

  • Stork Club raises $ 2,700,000 led by Bowery Capital, Slow Ventures | Stork Club is a maternity care platform that extends insurance coverage and provides all possible options to people who want to have a baby.

  • thatDot raises $ 2,100,000 | thatDot is a streaming data platform that connects, acts on, and explores streaming data for enterprise workflow and analytics.

  • Toro raises $ 4,000,000 led by Costanoa Ventures, Point72 Ventures | Toro helps monitor the data quality in company vast data catalogs.

  • Truth{set} raises $ 4,750,000 led by super{set} venture studio | Truth{set} is a data intelligence company, focused exclusively on validating the accuracy and compliance of consumer data.

  • Warehouse Exchange raises $ 2,200,000 led by Xebec | Warehouse Exchange is a flexible, on-demand warehouse platform.


Series A

  • Baton raises $ 10,000,000 led by Activant Capital | Baton is an early-stage startup that wants to help customers organize the post-sales implementation process.

  • CaptivateIQ raises $ 13,000,000 led by Sequoia Capital | CaptivateIQ is a SaaS platform that provides sales commissions and incentive-based payment services.

  • Cariloop raises $ 6,000,000 led by Patterson Thoma Family Office | Cariloop's caregiver support platform relieves the anxiety of caring for a loved one while working a full-time job.

  • Commonwealth Fusion raises $ 84,000,000 led by Temasek Holdings | Commonwealth Fusion is an MIT spinoff research company that focuses on bringing fusion energy technology to market.

  • Fernish raises $ 15,000,000 led by Khosla Ventures | Fernish is a Los Angeles-based startup that offers people a way to rent upscale furniture and decor online.

  • Orbita raises $ 9,000,000 led by HealthX Ventures, Philips Health Technology Ventures | Orbita provides software to improve patient engagement in digital healthcare through voice-first and conversational AI solutions.

  • Q32 Bio raises $ 46,000,000 led by Atlas Venture | Q32 Bio is a biotechnology company that develops treatments for patients with severe autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

  • Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha raises $ 3,500,000 led by KarpReilly | Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha is a craft brewery

  • Spectrm raises $ 3,000,000 | Spectrm is a conversational AI platform that enables world-class brands to have 1:1 conversations on messaging apps.

  • Splash Financial raises $ 12,300,000 led by CMFG Ventures, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures | Splash Financial is a financial education and student loan refinancing company that gives young professionals more financial freedom.

  • Stringr raises $ 5,750,000 | STRINGR operates an online marketplace that enables media content contributors to upload and submit digital content.

  • Tankfarm raises $ 3,500,000 | Tankfarm is a new kind of propane company.

  • Thriva raises $ 4,000,000 led by Target Global | Thriva offers a personalized at-home finger-prick blood test which enables individuals to easily track and improve health.

  • Tia raises $ 24,275,000 led by Threshold | Tia is a health care platform that builds an online and offline model of women‚Äôs health care.

  • Tugboat Logic raises $ 8,000,000 | Tugboat Logic address the skills and expertise gap in the security and compliance industry.

  • Wyze Labs raises $ 10,000,000 led by Norwest Venture Partners | Wyze Labs aims to make smart home tech accessible to everyone.

Deal News Sponsored by ProdPerfect

Series B

  • Ascus Biosciences raises $ 46,000,000 led by Temasek Holdings | Ascus Biosciences uses novel microbial community screening methods to discover, develop, and commercialize next-generation feed additives.

  • Decibel raises $ 40,000,000 led by Perwyn | Decibel is a real-time intelligence platform that enables businesses to measure and improve online customer experiences.

  • DefinedCrowd raises $ 50,500,000 | DefinedCrowd develops a Crowd-as-a-Service intelligent data platform intended to accelerate enterprise data training and modeling.

  • Gatsby raises $ 28,000,000 led by Index Ventures | Gatsby is a Software-as-a-service open source web development tool and framework which is customizable and extensible for any purpose.

  • Helbiz raises $ 4,000,000 | Helbiz gives you access to fleets of electric vehicles at your fingertips.

  • Insitro raises $ 143,000,000 led by Andreessen Horowitz | Insitro is a machine-learning driven drug discovery and development company.

  • Pie Insurance raises $ 27,000,000 led by Gallatin Point Capital | Pie Insurance is a Washington D.C.-based startup offering workers‚Äô compensation insurance to small businesses.

  • Platform Science raises $ 42,000,000 led by Prologis | Platform Science develops of a platform for on-vehicle mobile applications offering fleet management software solutions.

  • Siren raises $ 11,800,000 led by Anathem Ventures | Siren Care creates Neurofabrics; first product is Siren Diabetic Socks that helps people living with diabetes prevent amputations.

  • Stackin' raises $ 12,600,000 led by Octopus Ventures | Stackin' is a text messaging platform that provides personalized financial education services.

  • Wasabi Technologies raises $ 30,000,000 led by Forestay Capital | Wasabi is a hot cloud storage company delivering affordable, predictable, and simple cloud storage for businesses.


Series C

  • Exscientia raises $ 60,000,000 led by Novo Holdings | Exscientia is applying AI and big data processing to accelerate drug discovery and development.

  • Fundbox raises $ 20,000,000 led by MUFG Innovation Partners | Fundbox is a B2B payment and credit network that transforms how funding flows.

  • Oncology Analytics raises $ 28,000,000 led by Baird Capital | Oncology Analytics is a leading data analytics and technology-enabled services company,  purpose-built for oncology.

  • SmartRent raises $ 60,000,000 led by Spark Capital | SmartRent is an enterprise home automation and internet of things platform for the multifamily industry.

Series D

  • Apeel Sciences raises $ 250,000,000 led by GIC | Apeel Sciences develops plant-derived shelf life extension technology for fresh produce that improves quality and reduces food waste.

  • Benchling raises $ 50,000,000 led by Alkeon Capital | Benchling is a cloud-based software platform for biology researchers and R&D organizations.

  • Bluecore raises $ 50,000,000 led by Georgian Partners | Bluecore is building the future of ecommerce marketing through data and automation.

  • Synack raises $ 52,000,000 led by B Capital Group, C5 Capital | Synack is a crowdsourced security platform that utilizes augmented intelligence to discover and secure vulnerable applications.

Series E

  • Syapse raises $ 30,000,000 led by Revelation Partners | Syapse provides real-world evidence through SaaS to health systems, & life sciences companies to improve the outcomes of cancer patients.

Series F

  • Ginkgo Bioworks raises $ 70,000,000 led by | Ginkgo Bioworks is a developer of biological engineering products and custom microbes across multiple markets.

    Source: Crunchbase