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Notus Is Here to Show You the Way of Community-Led Growth

Notus Is Here to Show You the Way of  Community-Led Growth

Notus Co-founders Yuliya Bel and Tyler Storm think the era of advertising is dead, so they’ve launched a product to help companies engage with and grow their audience through community-led, social-first growth Yuliya Bel and Tyler Storm first met working at a blockchain startup in 2018. As Bel tells it, they first started bonding over how to figure out where their target audience was hanging out and how they could talk to them authentically. “With crypto, you don't buy ads to inspire word of mouth promotion or promote your coin,” Bel tells The Org. “It's hard to be a trusted word of authority because of the biases and the scams that exist. So the only way is to go to the ground level and be with your community who will represent your brand.” As the pair looked for guidance on how to really engage their community, Bel says they realized there were no tools to help them understand their audience or how to reach them. That issue, Bel says, isn’t unique to the crypto space. As the era of advertising dwindles and content creation becomes more decentralized, companies across the board need to find new ways to build trust and influence with their audiences -- and in some cases, even discover who their target audiences are, she says. Notus is born Storm, an internet native with an engineering background, knew firsthand the need to create a marketing flywheel to drum up buzz for any kind of project. Bel, who had come from Obama’s re-election campaign, Edelman and Bridgewater, has always been interested in building communities. They both knew what they wanted to create: a software product to help growth teams across any sector make their product go viral. When the crypto project they were working on got bought by Ripple, they knew the time was right. Bel and Storm launched Notus in 2021 — a pandemic baby — with a clear mission: “we build cults.” “We say that because this is a completely new vertical of software for growth teams to create a cult-like following for their brands,” Bel says. Notus works by using its software to identify whether a company’s target audience is its current user base and, if so, deepening and growing those relationships with them. Or, if it’s a completely new audience the company is trying to target, finding ways to understand what and who that audience is influenced by and bringing them into the fold as consumers. Notus then helps build one-to-one relationships with those audience members, creating and capitalizing on earned social. Bel says two big industry shifts have fundamentally changed the way conversations between companies and audiences need to happen: the era of ads is over and media is being decentralized and distributed by content creators, “but teams are still using the same tools to reach their target audiences.” She says instead of the traditional top-down advertising, the online world means communication has to go from side-to-side, and companies need to capitalize on the millions of people who can speak about them. That is coupled with the now-decentralized media market where, because of social media, newsletters, podcasts and more, marketing is a many-to-many model with influencers abound. “Companies themselves are starting to have media and content teams, but there are no tools to help with the content distribution.” That, Bel says, is a real issue. How does Notus help? Notus works by ingesting data on a company's entire audience or user base in order to understand trust and influence. It then translates the data into specific actions, based on user growth goals, that companies can take immediately to start improving metrics. Notus then attributes which customers came from the actions it’s team recommended, so companies have a transparent view of their success -- or otherwise. “It’s really about compounding earned growth,” Bel says. “That's our whole thesis. If we can go in and help companies create sustainable, earned compounding growth, we've done our job.” The company’s beta, being launched this quarter, is very much focused on growth. It is even using its technology for its own recruiting and fundraising purposes, choosing which reporters to target for news announcements and which VCs and angels to approach based on how they align with Notus’ goals. So far, it’s been a success. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian's 776 recently led a $1.25 million round, which also attracted angels from Glossier and Tesla. Bel says now, the focus is on bringing more people into the Notus journey — people that are community-minded and culture driven — and building out a “super smart team.” “After we closed the round, we made a priority to set the foundation for our culture first — what our benefits, values, compensation and people frameworks are. That's the reason why we are really excited about the team we are building.” Culture and community first Bel and Storm took the time to write out their people frameworks, making sure there was a lot of transparency around compensation — including their own. Bel says they are adamant that right from the get-go there is no wage gap, even if it's inadvertent. They also want to take an active approach in getting employees involved in company stock, creating a resource guide on how stock options work and how to exercise those options. “We really want to enable a culture of ownership,” Bel says. “We want to make sure that people have opportunities to continue adding on more equity as they go along and as the company grows.” She adds that one of her and Storm’s promises as founders is that once a new team member is brought on board, they’ll be really transparent with them around goals and won’t obfuscate any milestones or upcoming fundraising. “We truly are doing everything that we can to make this the most impactful thing that folks do in their careers. So that for us includes building up a culture.” Expanding on that, Bel says each Notus team member has the chance to change and augment the behavior of a user base, one of the “most precious” things a startup can achieve. “If we can make work smarter and make this technology smarter for users, then we can change how they literally go about their jobs and how success is measured.” To achieve that, every Notus team member has to have an outsized voice, be part of decision-making, and take some responsibility for the business health and growth, she says. Every two weeks, the Notus team does a “culture check” meeting, where everyone has the chance to share what the founders could do more of, less of or continue and get the same feedback in turn. Bel adds that for everyone working in the remote work world, “it’s so important to be overly communicative, overly transparent, because otherwise it just doesn't really work.” Team building To date, Notus has focused on building up the tech team to give Storm some more hands, and now it is expanding those efforts by looking to bring in data scientists, full stack engineers, product designers and social media folks. To make sure new hires are a culture fit, Bel says after an intro call she shares the robust people framework document to make sure candidates can get a real feel for the company and see “we're not just paying lip service to saying culture is important.” Once the interview process is over, Bel and Storm will buy an interviewee lunch or coffee (remotely) and set up a call to have a general chat about what makes them tick, adding a human touch to a “kind of robotic process.” For Bel, reading (currently Andrew Chen’s Cold Start Problem), long hikes in upstate New York and family time are important to maintaining balance. “For us, we want to still have a pretty lean team,” Bel says. “So with every hire it’s very critical that everyone fits that culture, and everyone essentially in that conversation opts into that.” The next big step for Notus is launching its private beta, which currently has “a very healthy waitlist,” according to Bel. The team is choosing companies to work with as build partners, which are at least at a growth stage, are audience-led and “understand the importance of authenticity and meeting their audience where they are at.” Bel says throughout this year, and the following, the focus is firmly on growth — of the team, of the product and of the clientele. “We were extremely humbled by the high caliber of candidates who are already interested in joining [Notus]. The focus now is to lock in a super sharp core team to create this new vertical with us.”

Funding announcement

Notus wants to suggest the best ways to have influence, and then scale it

Notus wants to suggest the best ways to have influence, and then scale it

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