How Run The World Raised Their Series A During COVID-19

May 21, 2020

Founder Stories


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Xiaoyin speaks at a Pear Stanford Founder Panel in January 2019

There is nothing quite like that moment when one of our Pear seeds becomes a Pear blossom. Today, we are thrilled for founders Xiaoyin Qu and Xuan Jiang as Run The World announces their Series A. Our partner Ian first met Xiaoyin at an entrepreneurs hangout and became an early test user. We are honored to have been part of her journey from 0 to 1 (and beyond!).

Xiaoyin and Xuan’s grand vision for Run The World is to build a world bounded not by physical proximity, but by interests and expertise. Run The World brings like-minded people together and helps foster meaningful relationships beyond emojis and heart buttons.

Every journey begins with one step. When the idea for Run The World first came to Xiaoyin, she started by running her own event as an experiment. She sourced speakers from LinkedIn, invited her friends to attend, and hacked features together with various tools. From there, she and co-founder Xuan Jiang began building the product, drawing on their experience at Facebook and Instagram.

As Run The World began budding into a business, Pear helped introduce Xiaoyin to her very first customer, dance YouTuber Auti, with 100,000 followers. The referrals kept coming, and even faster after a grand launch announcement in the middle of shelter-in-place (only two months ago!).

It was then that Xiaoyin began gearing up for her Series A and learning how to fundraise strategically.

“You do need strategies for fundraising. I do think that’s important, and it’s not something that we can easily find. You can learn product market fit and go to market and all that in a lot of different ways, but fundraising strategies is something that you just don’t get.”

As Xiaoyin worked with Pear, she discovered that fundraising strategy wasn’t simply “do A, do B, do C”, but more about developing a new way of thinking.

“What is an investor looking to see? What type of investors are the strategic partners that fit your company’s objective? Those questions are the framing of the mindset. Once you have that philosophy, that mindset, then you know how to tackle it.”

Of course, in the time of COVID-19 without in-person interactions, it is harder to get these answers. For a fundraising founder in this situation, Xiaoyin points out that “references are the number one most important thing,” and especially, references who can actually tell you the truth.

“The Pear team — they know everybody. They know their style, they know their history, and I really got the benefit of the reference calls that Pear connected me to,” says Xiaoyin. “If you know Pear, then you kinda know the entire valley, right? Literally, you know the hub. So you’re good, you know? You’re getting your first money and you know that you’ll be in good hands.”

“Good hands” is more than a metaphor over here — we are also apparently Xiaoyin’s fastest fingers.

“Pear is probably the fastest responder to my emails. Whenever I send investor updates, the first response always comes from Pear. Or I will say, ‘Hey. I need help with one, two, or three’ and then I’ll get a response from Mar or Pejman or Ian or Ajay. It’s normally instant,” Xiaoyin laughs.

We can’t wait to keep responding as fast as Run The World is running.