Last year our friend Bobbie Johnson ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to help fund his idea for a long form journalism project called Matter . Struggling to find the necessary talent to breath life into his fledgling company he asked if we could recommend a good designer. I listed off a few trusted freelancers, and really only as an aside suggested that of course Clearleft would love to help.
The idea of using Clearleft hadn’t crossed Bobbie’s mind, assuming we’d be too busy or too expensive. However we really liked the idea, and knew that Paul and Jeremy would relish working on a science-focused start-up for our friend. In order to make the project viable we offered to work in part for money with the rest paid as equity in the new company. In effect we’d become a seed investor, putting a small amount of our time and expertise into the project.
Considering the nature of most start-ups we never really expected to cash in our investment, at least not anytime soon, so we were both surprised and delighted when Bobbie told us that they’d found a buyer for Matter.
It appears that serial entrepreneur, Ev Williams, also liked the sound of the project and wanted to help secure its future. So he offered to bring Matter into the Medium fold and use the resources of the Obvious Corporation to help take the project to the next level.
So for Bobbie this means a secure future for Matter and for us it means we can now officially tell people that we’ve exited our first start-up. Sadly we only owned a minority share in the company so won’t be buying a company mini-sub any time soon. However considering the small initial investment, we’re happy with the outcome and would like to see it put to good use.
Over the last few years we’ve enjoyed working on a variety of internal and external start-up ideas including Silverback, Fontdeck and now Matter. We’ve also been actively involved in projects such as Seedcamp. So we’re planning on setting up a small incubator scheme at Clearleft to help other entrepreneurs like Bobbie benefit from our design skills.
We’re calling it Clearleft Labs.