Even before the pandemic hit, University of California, Santa Cruz student Vernon Coleman wanted to disrupt social networking with an egalitarian app called Realtime for young Millennials and Gen-Z. The shift to remote learning inspired 23-year-old Coleman to rethink connectivity.

He and Realtime co-founder Kevin Robertson dropped out to work full-time on their app, an invitation-only video chatting service set to launch this year. Instead of aimless scrolling or algorithm-based nudges, the entrepreneurs want to create a space that encourages users to be present and focused on the moment.

“If you look at most social networks and communities, they’ve been built by pretty much the same person,” Coleman told Business Insider’s Dominic-Madori Davis. “People either break the cycle or join within the cycle.”

Being different paid off. Late last month Realtime raised a $4 million seed round led by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s new Seven Seven Six venture fund. Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler, former Tinder CPO Ravi Mehta, and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin also invested, Davis reported.

For today’s curation of must-read innovation and tech news, the Plug In South LA Beat, we’re learning more about Coleman’s winning fundraising strategy:

Meet One of the Youngest Black Entrepreneurs in Tech, Who Just Raised a Seed Round Topping $4 Million that included Alexis Ohanian

Photo: Realtime co-founder and CEO Vernon Coleman (right) with co-founder and CTO Kevin Robertson (left). Credit: Realtime