Hi everyone, I’m a Libra with a Sagittarius moon. That means that I am fundamentally oriented towards fairness and justice, see both sides of every situation, do what I say and get a lot done, and am well-dressed. I think most of that holds true, and my extended family would be especially proud of me opening with this descriptor. I grew up in an Indian household where my mother and relatives prescribed to Hindu astrology, where my horoscope was read every year (followed by specific religious rituals to thwart any bad luck), and where superstition ruled logic. Needless to say, my scientific and mathematical brain rejected it all and no one who knows me would expect me to introduce myself as a Libra with a Sagittarius moon. Surprise!
I heard about Banu and Co — Star from a number of different sources, and surprisingly, only two were investors. The first time I saw Co — Star was at a Friendsgiving dinner in New York, when most of the dinner attendees pulled out their phones and started comparing Co — Star readings. I was both impressed with and surprised by the offline behavior this app inspired. What was this mysterious brand that had captured the minds of these New York 20 and 30-somethings? Another close friend brought it up a few weeks later, pointing out a multi-stoned necklace he had purchased on Amazon after researching crystals that might suit his energy — a research journey that was catalyzed by life events and supported by Co — Star.
I couldn’t get it out of my head.
So I, the perceived non-believer, downloaded the app and nervously read about myself and my friends, nodding vigorously at some of the descriptions and wincing painfully at some of the truths that were tough to accept, but so apt in their understanding.
As a consumer investor and broadly as a student of human behavior and culture, I was sucked in. Not because I suddenly became an ardent follower of astrology, but because I saw something special in the CEO, Banu, and subsequently, in Co — Star. I saw gentle nudges to have hard conversations. I saw feelings and thoughts buried deep inside the brain manifested in simple phrases, gazing out from the stark black and white UI. I saw that even those who didn’t “believe” could find meaning, prompting, and learning from a different type of self-exploration. I saw that my own obsessive commitment to self-improvement and growth found refuge in the patience and small learnings the app afforded. Being open and reflective, a Maveron-ism if there ever was one, I saw myself using the app to help my own journaling and self-exploration through the days and weeks.
As the world gets more digitized, globalized, and politicized, people continue to search for meaning and community in their lives. Historically, communities have formed around culture and religion, and in many cases those are one and the same.
Today we’re excited to announce our series seed investment in Co — Star, a hyper-personalized social astrology app focused on giving people the tools to make sense of the world and their place in it. Co-Star does this by using NASA data and proprietary technology to build a complete map of the sky at the moment you were born, always knowing exactly where the stars are, and updating in real time.
You don’t have to believe in astrology to recognize that it accounts for $2B in annual spend, the three biggest astrology-based groups on Facebook have a combined follower count of over 5M, it has existed for 2,500 years, over half of millennials utilize it, and 60% of Americans consult astrology as a tool to understand themselves and their worlds.
Human beings searching for meaning is not a new phenomenon. The very basis of human existence lies in the question of understanding why we exist. There are myriad ways to seek answers to this very question, and young people are increasingly piecing resources together in a number of different ways. We see organized religion declining, with 35% of millennials rejecting any religious affiliation. We see ancient practices like yoga and meditation rapidly adopted and commercialized, with the percentage of people in the U.S. who practice meditation increasing from 4.1% in 2012 to 14.2% in 2017, and yoga going from 9.5% in 2012 to 14.3% in 2017. And continue to see millennials seeking meaning and purpose in a largely lonely western world. In an NBC news study, they found that of the surveyed adults, nearly half reported feeling alone or left out. And research by The Atlantic in 2017 showed that teens are less likely to date, drive, or have sex than ever before. In the seeking of purpose, at any given time, a young person’s potpourri could look something like the following:
- Yoga, 2x a week
- Meditation app, daily
- Burning Man, 1x a year
- Therapy, 1x a month
- Gathering with friends and other like minded individuals, 4x a month
We believe that astrology can help fill the gap of an absent spiritual guide or practice, or play a different and powerful role amongst the suite of other purpose-seeking or mental health habits.
Co — Star prides itself in never prescribing or predicting the future, but rather gives advice, helps, and asks the right questions to inspire a person to start a conversation or to look deeply into a specific aspect of their life. Co — Star is not a crystal ball, it is a tool to better understand oneself across six elements; self, love & sex, spirituality, social life, thinking/creativity, and work.
We’re excited to partner with Banu, Ben, and Anna on their journey to build a movement.