This case study delves into the transformative collaboration between the reputable marketing agency, Hill Holliday, and venture capital firm Visible Hands (VH), in the efforts to support one of VH’s Visionaries I founders.
Partnering with Visible Hands, Hill Holliday worked with Alyse Dunn, Founder of CareCopilot, to create compelling marketing and branding materials to build CareCopilot’s brand presence. This case study explores how Hill Holliday’s strategic guidance and creative prowess propelled CareCopilot’s brand journey, setting the stage for their remarkable success.
Overview of Visible Hands
Visible Hands is a VC firm that funds and empowers underrepresented founders launching high-growth startups. Starting on day zero, Visible Hands puts its founders first, helping its cohort of overlooked entrepreneurs build their startups.
In 2021, Visible Hands launched its inaugural Visionaries Accelerator, a virtual-first program to provide early-stage underrepresented founders with funding as well as social capital, hands-on support, and community to grow their companies.
Brief overview of Hill Holliday
Hill Holliday is proud to be one of the top creative marketing agencies in the country, with over 350 employees. Since 1968, Hill Holliday has been dedicated to building iconic brands by helping clients fight and win the daily battle for attention. Blending communications planning, media, and technology with breakthrough creative, Hill Holliday delivers end-to-end solutions that solves end-to-end brand and business challenges for industry leaders. For more about Hill Holliday’s people, work, and culture, visit http://www.hhcc.com.
Overview of Alyse Dunn and CareCopilot
Alyse Dunn is the founder of CareCopilot, a platform that matches families taking care of older loved ones with different services they may need, including in-home care services, legal services, and more. CareCopilot was founded by Dunn in 2021 after her own experience taking on the caregiving responsibilities of her aging parents. With the help of her sister, Dunn supported her parents over the course of eight years, and experienced first-hand the huge gap in finding support and resources necessary for caregiving.
“It was really challenging to even identify where we needed to start,” Dunn said. “Personally experiencing such an egregious problem led to me start CareCopilot.”
Prior to her time as a founder, Dunn worked at mobile payment company Venmo (owned by PayPal), and always known she wanted to create something to provide support to others, but did not know what that would look like.
“I knew others who founded their own companies,” Dunn said, “so I knew how challenging the founder life could be. When I started CareCopilot, it wasn’t out of the desire to be an entrepreneur, but rather out of the wanting to build something value-adding.”
After eight lengthy years of navigating the complexities of caregiving for her parents, Dunn’s mother passed away in 2020 to Alzheimers. During that year, the pandemic caused PayPal’s stock values to rise overnight, providing company employees, including employees like Dunn at Venmo, to have higher returns on their stock investments. This series of events led to Dunn leaving Venmo, and using the funds from selling her stocks to start CareCopilot.
How Hill Holliday and Visible Hands first connected
With Visible Hands’ main mission of supporting underrepresented founders launching high-growth startups, the firm partnered with Hill Holliday due to the agency’s deep commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. The two companies’ alignment on providing hands-on support to overlooked founders made sense for forming a partnership.
Both Visible Hands and Hill Holliday saw the great need to uplift underrepresented founders, particularly women founders. This culminated in the companies’ collaboration in choosing the next founders to participate in Hill Holliday’s “Power Room,” a program that provides one female founder with foundational marketing support from the Hill Holliday team each year.
“We were inspired by the shocking stats of women who are awarded VC funding in comparison to men,” said Karen Hite, the SVP Group Creative Director at Hill Holliday. “We wanted to partner with someone like Visible Hands who could approach this problem from a different perspective. We knew we could provide marketing and branding services to our clients, and by partnering with a VC firm, we could directly address the issue and provide additional services that women founders need while getting their ideas off the ground.”
Maggie Fuller, Copywriter at Hill Holliday, also emphasized the importance of providing women founders with direct support when they’re starting out in an inequitable place.
“Oftentimes, women founders have the vision for the idea they’re pursuing and some background in an area or field specific to them,” Fuller said, “but they don’t often have the ability to really get to know the consumer they’re trying to connect with, especially when they’re lacking the funding or resources to expand their team. We want to work with them, almost as an extension to their companies, to help get their startups’ marketing in motion.”
Hill Holliday supports founders from a strategic standpoint, by helping founders better connect with their audiences in meaningful and successful ways, through tactics like visual branding and startup identity work.
The agency has a history of finding ways to uplift women, even internally through their Women’s Leadership Networks, which provides women in the industry an opportunity to gather together monthly to discuss media trends, campaigns, and their overall experiences working as women in their fields.
“It’s a space to come together and focus on empowering women leaders and women in their careers in general,” Fuller said, “and this network is what inspired us to take a step further and look for an opportunity to work more directly with founders in the VC space.”
Alignment of Alyse Dunn’s venture with the Power Room
In 2021, Dunn was selected as one of 51 founders who participated in Visible Hands’ inaugural Visionaries Accelerator. Throughout the course of the accelerator, Dunn showcased a driving passion for her startup, as well as a strong commitment to supporting and connecting with others within the VH community, and this ultimately led to her being the first chosen founder to experience the Power Room.
“Alyse Dunn is an accomplished engineer with deep expertise,” said Daniel Acheampong, Co-Founder and General Partner at Visible Hands. “She founded CareCopilot following a personal experience caring for loved ones. The combination of experience, closeness to the problem, and thoughtful execution made her a compelling applicant.”
Hill Holliday was excited to work with Dunn after hearing her story.
“Women founders have a deep passion for their business and it can be contagious for us,” Hite said. “We draw inspiration from the founders we work with and they’re fantastic people with inspiring stories. Dunn’s story was a natural fit and one we didn’t hesitate in wanting to support.”
How Hill Holliday’s services supported Alyse Dunn and CareCopilot
Over the course of four months, Hill Holliday was able to provide Dunn with pro bono marketing services, as well as strategic guidance and mentorship for CareCopilot.
The company put together a brand identity package for Dunn, including a brand book that she could build upon and later use when outsourcing other creatives for her startup.
“Typically, we provide a comprehensive look at a brand that serves as a strategic underpinning; it includes a positioning statement, consumer audience profiles, and creative articulations like voice, sound, look, typography, and guidelines,” Hite said. “We did this for Alyse with the idea that when we hand this off in the end, she has the tools she needs to bring CareCopilot to life. We want founders to succeed; we believe in giving them all the elements they need in order to make that happen.”
In order for Hill Holliday to create their branding book for CareCopilot, they had to fully understand Dunn’s own personal story and connection to her startup.
“In starting this type of [company], I knew I’d have to tell my story over and over again,” Dunn said. “People assume it’s cathartic — it’s not. It’s tough every time. I had to tell even more of my story to Hill Holliday in order to accurately convey the level of palpable anguish that one feels when they are watching a loved one pass away in front of their eyes, and they don’t know what to do or where to start. I had to share in a level of detail I don’t normally share. It was incredibly emotionally draining for me, but I’m grateful that all of that sharing culminated in such outstanding deliverables from Hill Holiday.”
Dunn emphasized her appreciation for the attention to detail that Hill Holliday put into their work, and that unlike traditional marketing agencies, they were fully immersed into the CareCopilot story enough to capture exactly what Dunn was looking for, as if they were a part of her startup team from the beginning.
“I was most impressed with Hill Holliday’s extraordinary listening skills,” Dunn said. “It’s hard enough to listen to the words people are telling you and really receive it without tuning out. Hill Holliday went a step further with their work to really reflect and ingest every story I told them about why I started CareCopilot. Their empathy and emotional intelligence ensured that the final deliverables that I received were right on the money.”
Dunn shared her gratitude for the branded marketing materials and time provided to her startup by the agency.
“Hill Holliday was fantastic from start to end,” Dunn said. “My industry advisor is very involved in my startup and was also very impressed by them. I’m really thankful to Visible Hands for pairing me with this opportunity. Hill Holliday created so many tangible products that I wouldn’t have been able to afford as an early stage founder. I was really impressed with how they received the information I gave and effectively created a final brand book I was truly happy with and could use.”
While Hill Holliday was the company providing founder support, they emphasized what they gained from their work with Dunn as well.
“We all got so much out of it,” Fuller said, “There was a lot of mutual respect on both parts. I’ll never forget the final presentation — we all had tears around the zoom call.”
“Alyse had a really strong sense of where she wanted to take her business, that really inspired us,” Hite added. “She had such a compelling story and so when we first were introduced to her, it was clear to us she had the passion and expertise in some areas, but needed help in identifying her audience more and how to really communicate and convey the brand.”
Hill Holliday provided Dunn and her team with strategic workshops and developed a strategy and personality profile for her audience. Their staff members sat in CareCopilot meetings from the start of the collaboration to fully understand the problems and needs CareCopilot is solving for, which then helped to effectively convey Dunn’s story and messaging.
“There’s a lot of lip service out there when it comes to startups. Everyone wants to claim they’re helping founders, but there’s not a lot of tangible checks being written or deliverables being produced,” Dunn said. “So, I have to give it up to Visible Hands and Hill Holliday for providing more than just words.”
Recap of the collaboration between Hill Holliday and Visible Hands in supporting Alyse Dunn
Through the Visible Hands & Hill Holliday partnership, Dunn received tailored brand materials that have been instrumental in CareCopilot’s continued growth.
For Dunn, Hill Holliday’s work resulted in better brand recognition and relatability for CareCopilot, as well as more ease in hiring designers to continue growing CareCopilot while utilizing the branding and marketing materials the agency provided.
The collaboration with Dunn was Hill Holliday’s first partnership client with Visible Hands, and the team reflected on finding success and impact through the heartfelt conversations and meaningful work throughout the partnership.
“Most, if not all, of us were brought to tears by the project and Alyse’s meaningful reaction,” Hite said. “Being able to contribute and do something meaningful for someone we believe in was truly magical. We could all collectively relate to CareCopilot and Dunn’s story; we all thought this was a great company idea, but also that Dunn was fantastic. We believed in her, were inspired by her, and wanted to do what we could to support her.”
While the Hill Holliday team reflected on their experience with Dunn, they highlighted the importance of storytelling for founders looking to strengthen their own marketing strategies.
“You need to have a clear story,” Fuller said. “Outside of your ‘why,’ it’s important for brands to have a story. Who are you? What’s your goal? Have a story you can build your brand and company off of.”
Hite added that fostering and tapping into your communities can also help underrepresented founders to better strengthen their stories.
“Especially with female founders, it truly does take a village,” Hite said. “I don’t think anyone should think they’re out on their own. There’s an incredible community of people that can be relevant in their success. Reach out to your network; sign up for workshops; take advantage of every opportunity to get you exposed to more people. Despite tech, it’s still culture we’re shaping and still people who have ideas that they want to be realized.”
“You might be surprised the insights people may be able to offer you,” Fuller added. “The cliche everyone has a story is true, it just starts with reaching out and connecting.”
Dunn also noted the importance for founders to do their part with deep work and thinking in order to better communicate their purpose.
“In order to get the most value from an engagement, it’s worth it to sit and do the hard work of being able to clearly, concisely, and authentically articulate the vision you have for your company,” Dunn said. “Not what investors or employees want to hear, but the real problem that you’re solving for your end user.”
Looking towards the future
Since Dunn’s time with Hill Holliday, CareCopilot has continued to grow and expand. You can access and learn more about CareCopilot on their website, and if you or someone you know is currently serving as a caregiver, you can sign up to utilize CareCopilot’s support.
Hill Holliday has since continued its work to support women founders, having recently accepted Visible Hands Visionaries II founder Sydney Montgomery as the next Power Room participant. They look forward to continuing to support founders more directly, in partnership with Visible Hands.
“The agency has a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, and so within that, we’re always open to those opportunities of finding underrepresented groups we want to uplift and support,” Fuller said. “We have a tremendous responsibility in trying to create work that matters and create a place that people want to work for. We’re hoping to put good out into the world through every piece of work that we do.”
Visible Hands is looking forward to continuing this partnership with Hill Holliday, and is inspired by the agency and their dedication to authentically helping further underrepresented founders in their journey.
“I continue to be incredibly excited about the value this partnership brings to our founders,” said Amanda Zieselman McKenna, Ecosystem Director at Visible Hands. “Excellent brand design is a key asset that helps founders tell their story. And effective storytelling is critical to gaining traction across all audiences, whether it’s fundraising, securing customers, or hiring team members. The level of dedication, passion, and resources that Hill Holliday brings to this partnership is incredible. Their team’s commitment to the work with Visible Hands founders is truly what makes the partnership as impactful as it is, and we are grateful for their continued support!”