Please welcome Trust, a virtual card + community designed to help grow businesses

Meet Trust, the latest addition to Lerer Hippeau’s portfolio.

HQ: Los Angeles

Cofounders: James Borow, Sean Friedland, Chris Lorenz, Geoff Anderson, Daniel Druger, Spencer Anderson

The problem: Digital businesses are growing rapidly and effective marketing can be a critical wedge, at times representing 50% of sales. But digital marketing is challenging to navigate; it presents all kinds of hurdles, including volatile and opaque pricing models, an incentive structure that favors the biggest advertisers, and a total lack of clarity on where dollars will be spent best. Various fintech companies have emerged to help digital businesses grow and save money, but none has yet focused specifically on marketing, or invested in the proprietary data and analytics businesses need to make informed decisions.

Trust’s solution: The Trust card + community helps businesses overcome marketing challenges by furnishing them with better data, advice, and buying power. The Trust card, built in collaboration with Stripe, allows businesses to increase their marketing buying power by up to 20x and receive 45-day payment terms. The Trust community gives businesses insights into data across social media and ad platforms, investment trends, best practices, and curated news. Trust’s offerings are designed to help businesses rethink marketing spend — to view it as an investment instead of an expense.

Origin story: We first got to know the Trust team when we backed James Borow’s company SHIFT, a platform that helped brands execute marketing plans. (Snap acquired SHIFT’s technology in 2016.) The team cut their teeth as early employees at Snap where they launched and grew the company’s self-service business and were instrumental in helping build Snap’s revenue from zero to more than $1.2 billion over the course of three years, before teaming up to found Trust.

Why we’re betting on it: Digital marketing is more important than ever. E-commerce grew by 39% in the United States over the past year, and digital advertising spend is expected to grow by 20% this year to $191 billion. Businesses need to feel confident that they will see consistent returns on their marketing dollars. Trust’s founding team knows this space inside and out — while at Snap, they saw emerging e-commerce companies receive subpar payment terms time and again, even though they had deep pockets and significant venture funding to put to work. The Trust card and the community that the team has built are the best solution to help brands navigate their marketing investments, with the most favorable terms.

Our take: When our DTC investments get funded, especially at the Series A and later, a large portion of that capital goes toward digital advertising. If those companies had keener insights into how investing money in different areas would deliver, they might redistribute capital to other areas of business development. Trust is building what we believe will be a “Bloomberg for marketing” — a dedicated platform for digital marketing — and businesses need it badly. With founders building fintech solutions in all categories, the Trust team is uniquely positioned to excel in this one.

Further reading:Former Snap employees raise $9M for Trust, emerging from beta to level marketing playing field” via TechCrunch

Keep up with our community. Subscribe to the Daily Roundup and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Lerer Hippeau is the most active early-stage venture capital fund in New York.