How SohoMuse Founder Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin Built Her Business

  • Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin is the cofounder and president of job networking web site SohoMuse. 
  • Costin particulars the methods she’s borrowing from Disney to develop her enterprise.
  • For starters, she’s constructing a neighborhood that may gas SohoMuse’s enlargement and success. 
  • See extra tales on Insider’s enterprise web page.

Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin, nicknamed the “Rebel Heiress,” is a seventh-generation descendent of railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, singer-songwriter, and, most just lately, a profitable tech entrepreneur. 

Costin is the cofounder and president of SohoMuse, the invite-only social networking membership that counts large names comparable to dressmaker Malan Breton as a part of its three,000-plus member base. SohoMuse is a spot the place creatives can community, discover job alternatives, and attend personal occasions, comparable to panel discussions and dwell music classes with artists like Tiffany Darwish. Costin says when the pandemic subsides, a combination of in-person and on-line occasions will proceed to be held.

Investors valued the New York City-based enterprise within the thousands and thousands, based on paperwork considered by Insider. Costin’s combining the billion-dollar market of personal social golf equipment with the multi-billion greenback market of social networking apps and goals to distinguish her firm by borrowing methods from Disney. Costin is broadening SohoMuse’s scope to incorporate diversified income streams and worldwide progress, simply because the $340.2 billion leisure behemoth did in earlier years.  

“Obviously there are a lot of expectations with my name,” Costin mentioned, noting that the laborious a part of constructing the enterprise was growing the web site. “That was awful,” she added. But not sufficient to discourage her — to Insider she breaks down overcoming expectations, constructing her personal enterprise, and making her personal guidelines. 

Investing your personal cash can appeal to extra funding and enhance traders’ confidence in your imaginative and prescient


Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin on the The Vanderbilt Museum

Photographed by Bryan Griffin

Costin’s journey with SohoMuse started within the late 2000s when she and cofounder Umi McGuckin developed a prototype for the web site. “The technology wasn’t advanced enough for what we were trying to achieve,” Costin mentioned. 

In 2008, SohoMuse acquired a $500,000 funding from the European media group Rebel Media to assist launch the enterprise, but it surely wasn’t in 2017 when Costin and McGuckin determined to focus solely on its progress and rebrand the corporate. 

Costin was singing in Europe on the time and paused her tour to deal with getting SohoMuse off the bottom. McGuckin stepped down as performing CEO, although she remains to be concerned within the firm, and Costin took management of the enterprise. They sought a further $250,000, and beta launched in 2018 to a restricted variety of testers, earlier than going dwell in October 2019. 

Costin is personally invested, although informed Insider she’s not at liberty to reveal how a lot. Personally investing in her firm helped show she was severe about working the corporate. 

“You absolutely need to back your own product,” she mentioned. “If I’m not putting in my own money, then why is an investor going to believe there’s skin in the game.”

Strategic partnerships set your organization aside and join you with potential prospects

Part of constructing the “Disney Model” is creating strategic partnerships to offer patrons essentially the most for his or her membership.  Last yr, the corporate threw a pre-Oscar social gathering in Beverly Hills with sponsorship alternatives costing as a lot as $50,000. The visitor listing included actor Billy Porter, producer Timberland, and actor Samuel Jackson. 

The enterprise signed a joint-venture take care of manufacturing studios, such because the newly-launched Madmana Studios, to develop initiatives and employees up movies with SohoMuse members. SohoMuse additionally labored with unions just like the Producers and Writers Guild and even hosted social justice panels with singer Linda Perry and rapper Ja Rule. These partnerships give them entry to potential members who wish to community inside the leisure world. 

For members, most of SohoMuse’s platform is free apart from premium occasions comparable to masterclasses. Though SohoMuse plans to additional broaden its membership right into a subscription mannequin, proper now, Costin mentioned, the corporate remains to be determining what prospects are prepared to pay for. 

Additionally, SohoMuse affords a “white-glove” service to these seeking to e-book expertise from the platform. Companies pay to publish job postings or match them with expertise immediately, together with a transaction price, for what Costin calls a kind of “concierge.”

Building a neighborhood that improves individuals’s lives means you will have loyal prospects

Costin can also be borrowing Disney’s technique of building a robust neighborhood of customers. For instance, current members can advocate new additions or potential shoppers can apply on their very own. The major requirement is that people are working in a inventive area comparable to design, movie, and music.

Malan Breton, a singer and dressmaker who was appointed UK Ambassador of the Arts in 2019, informed Insider SohoMuse was like “family” to him. “It is a safe place to create and be inspired,” he mentioned. 

Celebrity stylist Montgomery Frazier mentioned the platform helped him from feeling “a severe sense of isolation” throughout the pandemic final yr. He was capable of take part within the platform’s inventive choices, comparable to its SohoMuseMarketplace, which permits artisans to promote their work as retailers shut all through the world.

So far, most members have discovered about SohoMuse by means of phrase of mouth, Costin mentioned. She desires to extend promoting techniques however is not in a rush. Limited advertising for them has confirmed to be “incredibly effective,” she mentioned. 

Additionally, Costin launched a pupil mentorship program in 2020, dubbed SohoMuse World, to faucet into the following technology of creators. So far, the corporate has partnered with the University of California, Los Angeles, and goals to signal eight extra universities by the top of this yr, Costin mentioned.

“Having mentors can change the trajectory of your life,” she mentioned. “If we can help nurture a child and give opportunities — you cannot buy that, it’s priceless.”

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