Visiting Dignitaries

Nas, Nick Cannon, and Blake Griffin Are Now ‘Cofounders’ In 12Society, a Birchbox for Aspirational Bros

The word "cofounder" is experiencing some painful dilution.

screen shot 2012 06 12 at 1 20 54 pm Nas, Nick Cannon, and Blake Griffin Are Now Cofounders In 12Society, a Birchbox for Aspirational Bros

12Society, the lifestyle startup founded earlier this year, came out of stealth mode today–and, as TechCrunch reports, so did all its celebrity cofounders, including Nas, Nick Cannon, last year’s NBA Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin, former New York Giant Michael Strahan, the Timberwolves’ Kevin Love, and the San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum. And no, this not a deleted scene from an episode of Entourage. This is what passes for a tech startup these days.

The company was conceived of by Sameer Mehta and Nadir Hyder, the duo behind JungleCents, a daily deals startup acquired by Mark Cuban, who previously invested in JungleCents’ seed round. 12Society’s business model sounds an awful lot like Birchbox–or any of its legion of monthly subscription-service competitors. Users pay $39 a month to get four to six “premium products from tech, fashion, apparel, and athletics.” The items are “hand-picked” by 12Society’s “style board,” which is how the company refers to its famous cofounders. Said celebs have also promised to blog about what “propels, inspires and engages them,” which we imagine could mean a lot of work for their assistants, already tired from all that hand-picking.

TechCrunch thinks there’s a lesson here: “The (real) best way to ensure engagement and conversion? Convince big-time influencers to become the voice and brands behind your content.”  So basically: If celebs shill it, users will come?

One of 12Society’s investors is familiar with that model. In addition to funding from Groupon cofounders (Eric Lefkofsky, Paul Lee, and Brad Keywell), 12Society also counts serial entrepreneur Diego Berdakin as one of its investors. Mr. Berdakin is the cofounder of BeachMint, which has launched a series of subscription-shopping verticals that come with recommendations from a celebrity and a expert, like JewelMint with Kate Bosworth, StyleMint with Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen, BeautyMint with Jessica Simpson, and ShoeMint with Rachel Bilson. What, no DudeMint?

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com