Maverick, A New Type Of Social Network For Girls, Launches Today — Backed by $2.7 M In Funding


A new type of social network launches today, one that encourages girls and teens to shed their carefully curated social media personas and dare to be their authentic selves.

Maverick is the brainchild of digital entrepreneur Brooke Chaffin and renowned academic Catherine Connors, who met as executives at Disney Interactive.

The co-founders set out to create a social media platform that does more than simply connect people. They wanted to construct a place that encourages adolescents and teens to take creative risks and express themselves — and get rewarded (in the form of badges) for doing something daring or unique.

“We’re about positive engagement that rewards authenticity,” said Maverick CEO Chaffin, former senior vice president of Women & Family at Disney Interactive.

Chief Content Officer Connors said Maverick seeks to combat the loss of self esteem that often occurs when confident little girls enter middle school.

“During early adolescence, the majority of girls stop raising their hands, participating in sports and extra-curricular activities, taking risks and stepping into leadership roles,” said Connors, former editor in chief at Disney Interactive. “In short, they stop believing in themselves. And it’s not because we don’t tell them that they should believe in themselves — it’s that they don’t get enough real opportunity to prove to themselves that they can.”

Maverick recruited peer influencers  — musicians Chloe & Halle Bailey, who when from covering Beyonce on YouTube to being signed to the artist’s label, YouTube personalities Brooklyn & Bailey McKnight, Native American activist and model Daunnette Reyome, Olympic gold medal gymnast Laurie Hernandez and teen standup comedian Ruby Karp — to help them feel relaxed and welcome.

“The big challenge for Maverick is convincing them to post something that isn’t so curated, polished and perfect, to put forth something that takes a creative risk,” Chaffin told Deadline. “It may be slow at first. That’s the reason we signed a group of influencers, called ‘Founding Mavericks’ … to signal that this is a safe place to be.”

Maverick is accessed via free Apple iPhone app or on the web. Once the girls are inside the video and photo driven experience, they’ll have the opportunity to respond to challenges, issued by adult role models dubbed “Catalysts.”

Musician Heather Reid of the pop group The Murmurs will issue a call for the girls to write their own anthems. Jennifer Romolini, chief content officer of Shondaland and author of the book Weird in a World That’s Not: A Career Guide for Misfits, will challenge the girls to design their own “freak flags.”

The goal is to create a social media platform built around positive interactions.

MaverickLive, a series of one-day events, will showcase young Mavericks who demonstrate an aptitude in STEAM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), entrepreneurship, comedy and music. The first event, featuring the Founding Mavericks, takes place Saturday in Los Angeles.

The idea has attracted notable investors, led by Matt Robinson of Heroic Ventures, and including former ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne and Nisha Dua, partners of BBG Ventures, and Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn.

Maverick complies with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, so parents will need to provide their consent for children under age 13. There’s also a dashboard for parents to monitor what their children are doing and learning.

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