Why we invested in Upstream again — the future of professional networking

Trace Cohen Angel Investor
4 min readJun 3, 2021


The best use of 30min all week

Upstream redefines professional networking with products designed for organic interactions and life-changing connections.

Go sign up now / download the app https://upstreamapp.com/

I’m pretty sure I met the founder Alex Taub like 10yrs ago at the OG co-working space General Assembly (before the pivot) at one of their weekly pitch off happy hours. Everyone has stories like this — he’s like the Kevin Bacon of tech, “so how do you know/meet Alex?”

He reached out in January of 2020, we met at the newly updated Company HQ in midtown to discuss his new idea of community management and how to make networking better. The idea of communities/platforms was just starting to gain some traction in the startup/VC world and I had been running an investor dinner series in person for a few years too, so I was definitely intrigued. Admittely when I was in the event tradeshow business 2012–2015 I had tried to build something similar but I think I was a bit too early… My early value add was to stay away from the “$1T” event tech world :)

My last in-person investor dinner with leading money winner among women in WSOP history Vanessa Selbst

I liked the concept both personally/professionally that the hundreds of investors I’ve brought to my dinners that lived in Mailchimp and email threads while not at in person events, can now post “asks” and interact from anywhere. Then Covid hit… This is where the side idea of “digital events” that seemed crazy a few months before, became one of the main features.

Digital Networking Events

I know we all miss in person networking but setting up events is a pain in the ass sometimes… Finding a venue, creating graphics, sending out invites, managing RSVPs, a lot of people don't show up/stuck in traffic, something always goes wrong, cleaning up after. So like this new remote work/hybrid transition we’re going through, the same will happen to the events/community industy

They also hired rock stars like Sarah Wood at the end of 2020 that have made the experience next level https://joinupstream.medium.com/welcome-sarah-wood-to-the-upstream-team-3c2e34e9d151

Go invest in Mac’s fund! https://www.rarebreed.vc/


  • Infinite scale — I had to find conference rooms, set up, travel and could only have X amount of people. My in person dinners usually ranged from 10–20 people but with Upstream I easily had 40–60 on a regular basis
  • Cheaper (mostly) —I mostly got the conference rooms for free but then I had to feed (usually healthier food) everyone, set up and travel to the location.
  • Introverts — I consider myself an extroverted introvert, so in person, proactively saying hi, making small talk etc is pretty easy for me. But for a lot of people, it’s very nerve racking and you would either not attend events or just stand around.
  • Asking questions — This is even tough for me sometimes, raising my hand, feeling my heart thump in anticipation of being chosen to ask a question and not sound dumb. Now you can just type it in.
  • Networking — Upstream has a match making system that randomly pairs you with 2–5 other people over vid chat for 5min (admin/host determines this). I used to do this in person, which is very hard to do and then on the flip side if you’re talking to someone and want to leave because you’re not interested / they’re pitching you, this will cut you off and move on, no feelings hurt. You can share your contact info and follow up if there is mutual interest
  • Digital — No commute, no travel, no getting ready and you can leave whenever you want. The commitment is minimal but the upside is limitless


In person — Yes I miss seeing all your smiling faces IRL, which is very necessary for certain things. But lets be honest, you miss that right now but the allure will wear off soon and you’ll find a happy meadium.

So why join a community on Upstream?

First during the lockdowns, mentally Upstresm was a lifesaver. Hosting events, attending events and just talking to other people really gave me a lot of hope.

I grew my Active Investors group to 590 member, hosted 26 events, connected ~700 investors and attended 100+ other events where I met 300 people from around the world. But you can go join one for PR, healthcare, NFTs, career advice, Miami tech, CPG, Female Founders, LGBTQ+ etc

Follow them to see all the amazing events across almost every industry https://joinupstream.medium.com/upstream-events-anu-duggal-from-female-founders-fund-elizabeth-burstein-from-neura-health-david-5d6a40de6588

And if you’ve ever attended one of my events, I like to have a little fun and entertain… If you're an investor, here is the link for my next event http://bit.ly/ActiveInvestor27

Go sign up now / download the app https://upstreamapp.com/



Trace Cohen Angel Investor

Angel in 60+ pre-seed/seed startups via New York Venture Partners (NYVP.com). Comms/PR/Strategy