Two startup founders paid $15 for a 1980s photoshoot at JCPenney. Obviously, it went viral.

founder portraits

Summary List Placement

Most professional photos of startup founders look exactly the same: button-down, boring background, blank smile. 

But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. What if founders were free to don neon pink sweaters? To physically embrace their cofounders? To dress like the ’80s never ended?  

Madison Campbell and Liesel Vaidya are proving that they can. When Campbell, cofounder of Leda Health, found a Groupon for cheap JCPenney portraits, she was “immediately reminded of my youth at school picture day” and knew she had to do it. 

Campbell said the photographer was initially apprehensive about their vision, but the founders persevered to create true art. The first of the two portraits shows the two founders in front of a glowing pink and blue background, gazing into the distance. In the second photo, Vaidya tenderly hugs Campbell from behind while both rock rainbow sweaters. 

Campbell tweeted out their new portraits, and the venture world was delighted.


“I tell founders to get professional photos of their team after they raise their first round of funding (before they announce it),” Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian tweeted. “I just didn’t realize they could be so spectacular.” 

Campbell says the photos reflect the culture of their company. Because their startup, Leda Health, focuses on sexual assault prevention, much of the workday is spent discussing trauma. Campbell says try to maintain a lighthearted atmosphere in between heavy conversations.

“Our culture is folks that work at odd hours, college dropouts, meme-lords, and other folks that routinely swear on Zoom calls and send each other TikToks all day,” she said. “We try to not take ourselves too seriously.”

The photos cost a mere $14.95 (with a Groupon) so other founders can easily follow suit. Whether you want to dress up as a vampire, pop out of a present, or surround yourself with vegetables, JCPenney will take your founder portraits to the next level — and help you go viral on VC Twitter. 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world’s most expensive liquid

Related posts