Announcing Our $1.1m Pre-Seed to Reshape Professional Networking for Gen Z
Gen Z is being shorted when it comes to professional networks.
LinkedIn isn’t cutting it for a generation that represents themselves and networks differently. Gen Z is the generation that’s been building an online presence since they were kids with side projects, but there’s no space that spotlights this unique kind of experience in a way that’s low touch and accessible to all. On top of what’s out there not providing the right kinds of profiles, there also is no central meeting place for Gen Z to connect with one another on a professional level and discover the mentors they need to advance their careers. After the pandemic, college students lost 2 years of IRL community building and networking on campus and have been labeled the loneliest generation ever. That’s 2 critical years of personal and professional opportunities missed.
The problem we’re solving at Pineapple is personal to me: I got a start in tech when I was 14 — I was an early member of Product Hunt’s Maker Hunt community, obsessed with product design and startups, and hungry for anyone that would give me the opportunity to work on their team. When I stumbled across Intercom, I had to hustle hard to make it in the door. With my lack of experience, a resumé wouldn’t cut it so I had to build a portfolio site to show off my (meagre) work, but more importantly, tell my personal story and show off the passion I had for design.
At Pineapple, we’re reshaping professional networking for Gen Z. We’re building a platform centered around community and the belief that showing off your authentic self will help you make your best career moves. Pineapple uses Instagram-style stories to help users build expressive profiles that tell their personal and professional stories to help them form deeper connections. Users can grow their networks with a thriving community of career-minded Gen Zs and young professionals from organizations they want to work with.
We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve raised a $1.1m pre-seed round, led by f7 Ventures, comprised of 7 female operators and leaders with over 20 years of experience in the fastest growing technology companies in Silicon Valley. Alongside f7 is 500 Global, and angels like Julie Zhuo (ex VP of Product Design @ Facebook), Bradley Horowitz (VP Product @ Google), and others.
We’re using this funding to support our community by building a product alongside them, that will shape their careers from the meaningful professional connections they’ll make. We’ve only scraped the surface of exploring how we can foster connections and we’re super excited to keep going deeper.
Pineapple started as an idea from my co-founder Ollie’s cafe in Dublin, we became fast friends after our very first encounter involved me committing a serious social faux-pas by sitting down and eating an entire pizza (that I had brought from somewhere else). Ollie told me about how he was in the process of hiring baristas and was buried under hundreds of CVs of people who were all between the ages of 18–25 and looked identical on paper with no hints of personality. With my own experience of resumé rejection in hand, I felt that there was something we could do to give Gen Z a better leg up when entering the professional world than LinkedIn or resumés ever could. When we were accepted into 500 Startups at the start of the pandemic, we had the space to explore the seed of the idea of helping Gen Z make their best career moves, and now we’re on a mission to reshape professional networking for them.
Since the end of 2021, Pineapple is growing fast — we’re live on 4 campuses across the US with thousands of awesome Gen Z community members on the platform. Last month, we launched the ability for our community to connect and chat with each other, in the first week alone there were over 1k connections made. Next, we’re building a way to help digital and physical Gen Z communities network with each other and grow together on Pineapple, because Networking doesn’t happen solo.
I believe that the best professional networking happens in communities. Nobody is an island and that’s especially true when it comes to starting your career. I don’t see a lot of people who have thriving careers and professional networks that have mass-LinkedIn-messaged their way to get there. Instead, I see people who are part of digital and physical communities through platforms like Discord or their campuses that have a network of supportive people helping them gain the connections they need. We want all of these support networks to live (and thrive) on Pineapple soon so that when you’re ready to take the step of starting your career, finding your people who will go to bat for you, is only an app away.
Thanks to our incredible team of 7, Darragh King our CTO, Janice Cheng our Head of Community, Caoife Davis our Product Engineer, Karyme Perez our Community Co-Ordinator and Josip Marković our Product Engineer. Thanks also to some of our investors who have gone deep into the trenches of solving this problem with us over the past year, Kelly and Joanna at F7, Tim Chae at 500, Brian Hannon, Jack Cohen. Lastly, a hugely special thanks to our community who have been early believers and die-hard supporters since day one, and our families.