🦄 Unicorner Startup of the Week: RocaNews
✍️ Notes From The Editors
“Roca” is short for “Pororoca,” a biannual wave that sweeps the Amazon River. Surfers come from across the world to surf the Pororoca; it’s a wave that brings people together. Similarly, that's also one of Roca’s missions.
We discovered RocaNews around a year ago when one of their early employees reached out to us. She really resonated with our cover on Fable and believed there was a future between Unicorner and Roca. Almost a year and many conversations later, we’re happy to share our cover of Roca.
Given the company's significant growth and promising plans surrounding its upcoming app, RocaNews presents itself as an innovator in its industry, and a potential unicorn-to-be that we want to keep our eyes on. Reply with some of your favorite alternative news sources that we should check out.
- Arek and Ethan 🦄
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Rethinking the future of news
RocaNews describes its take on news as “factual, fun, and fascinating.” Its daily news comes in the form of Instagram posts, newsletter articles (called The Roca Current), and TikTok reels. The objective of Roca’s content is to deliver non-opinionated, light-hearted, and informative content to counter what the team describes as “negative, partisan, and alarmist news” that pushes political narratives and raises blood pressure.
🔗 Check it out: rocanews.com
💰 Business Model
The majority of Roca’s income comes from advertisements. It’s possible the upcoming app will introduce different sources of revenue—keep an eye on its Instagram for updates.
📈 Traction and Fundraising
  • Raised $4.4 million seed round from Allon Ventures (Ori Allon, Co-Founder & Chief Strategist of Compass Real Estate) and a number of angels
  • Over 1.5+ million combined followers on Instagram (primary @ridethenews) and 220k newsletter readers
  • Acquired River News, an app-based news platform, earlier this year with the intention to rebuild it as the Roca News app; the app is currently in beta with a launch projected in early 2023
👫 Founders
  • Max Towey, CEO: Previously Podcast Host & Corporate Relations @ American Enterprise Institute, Finance @ University of Notre Dame
  • Max Frost, President: Previously Senior Associate @ American Enterprise Institute, Applied Economics MS @ Johns Hopkins, International Relations and Affairs & International Economics BA @ University of Virginia
  • Billy Carney, Chairman: Previously Investment Banking Associate @ Merrill Lynch, Finance @ University of Notre Dame
💼 Opportunities
Want to stay updated on opportunities at RocaNews? Fill out this form and we’ll let you know when we find a role that fits your profile.
🔮 Our Analysis
RocaNews was born out of a response to the news industry. In a world where most people get their news from digital devices and social media algorithms promote content that gets people emotional, Roca is building a forward-looking news platform. When we first spoke with RocaNews CEO Max Towey almost a year ago, he described a vision to build a platform for non-alarmist news. Since then, the company has shown that it can make its vision a reality by first amassing an Instagram following of over 1.5 million followers across four accounts and then growing its daily newsletter to hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Now, the company is releasing its own app. For Roca, this progression means more control over the experience it can provide users and more user data to improve its platform. It also means there are no algorithms that can change how Roca’s posts get promoted or prevent users from organically discovering its content. While building and promoting an app is a different challenge than building on social media, given its demonstrated success with social media and its newsletter, we believe Roca can ride the wave.
📚 Further Reading
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💰 Bonus Content
Starbucks has entered NFTs! Last Thursday, the company announced the private launch of Starbucks Odyssey. Participants engage in online "journeys" to earn digital collectibles. A built-in marketplace is planned to be built with the opportunity for rewards like "a virtual espresso martini making class, invitations to exclusive events at Starbucks Reserve Roasteries, or even the opportunity to join a trip to Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia coffee farm in Costa Rica." Read more at Axios.
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