Matt McGeagh and his partner Peter Sweeney have started a new business, ALAO Invest, that helps connect new business owners with social media “influencers.”
Basically, Act Like an Owner (ALAO) is an investing platform that works to allow anyone and everyone the ability to be an owner of a favorite company and participate in private investing.
“We saw a few trends that we found interesting in the fundraising world and looked for a way to bring it to a broader set of investors rather than just the very top of the investing space,” said McGeagh, who grew up in Pacific Palisades and graduated from Loyola High School.
The company’s mission is “Invest in brands you believe in with influencers your love.”
A former PPBA player (where his father, Rick, was a longtime coach), McGeagh was a college standout at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2019, the third-baseman was one of only five players to start all 41 of Penn’s games and finished with the second-most appearances (166) and starts (163) among Penn position players in program history. In 2019, he scored a career-high 29 runs and posted a career-high .369 on-base percentage.
While playing baseball, McGeagh also focused on his studies and finance and graduated from the Wharton School of Business in 2019.
He was hired by Goldman Sachs in the Healthcare M&A Group, based in New York City. He ran into Sweeney, who was also working at the same company, in the tech, media and telecom capital markets group.
They saw a niche in the crowdfunding market that was not readily available to many investors. McGeagh explained that companies, such as Republic, Startengine and Wefunder, do not tie in the creator (influencer) world.
McGeagh and Sweeney define “Influencers” as a broader term for celebrities, athletes and Instagram, YouTube and Tik Tok personalities. They are “essentially anyone who has a large following that they can leverage to help grow a business that they align with,” McGeagh said.
“Our focus will be on consumer facing brands,” the Palisades resident said. “We differ from traditional Venture Capital as we allow non-accredited investors to invest – whereas traditional VC usually has very large minimum investments and high barriers to entry. We hope to be complementary to VC funding as there are benefits to raising money from traditional VC’s and from your community (ALAO).”
CTN asked if startup businesses could come to ALAO and McGeagh explained how that might work.
“If a company selling headbands needed $1mm in funding they would come on our platform — pair with an influencer (possibly an athlete who loves their headbands) and then go to ‘lay investors’ on our platform to raise the remaining $1mm round of funding. The idea is that aligning yourself with an influencer and your customers through equity creates marketing synergies that are not seen traditionally,” he said, noting that if someone is interested in investing in a start-up, they make an account on our platform and then have access to the deals that we onboard to fundraise.”
The company is unique because the focus is on three stakeholders: rising companies, influencers and lay investors. “Each has a unique value proposition to engage on the platform,” McGeagh said.
“Companies can create a ‘stickier’ consumer base by fundraising from their communities while also gaining the partnership of an influencer who has a powerful marketing engine at their disposal,” he said.
“Influencers can participate in the growth they create for brands, which is not done with the traditional paid-per-post model. Being an owner in a business is also a more authentic way to engage with their following as sponsored ads can come off as ingenuine and thus less impactful / dilutive to both the company and influencers brands,” McGeagh said, noting that lay investors can invest at the earliest stages of a company.