Startups founders are chasing creator dollars. A new report from early-stage venture firm Antler mapped more than 220 global companies servicing creators. The biggest category by far? Audience monetization, or startups that provide software and other technology to help creators make money outside advertising sponsorships.
That focus isn’t surprising. Creators have found there’s a limit to the branded posts audiences can stomach. What’s more, many advertisers initially paused or cut influencer sponsorships when the pandemic hit, underscoring the need for alternative income. Companies rushing to fill the gap include PearPop, Fanhouse and OnlyFans, which allow online celebrities to make money from fan interactions, such as tips, often in exchange for a cut. Maven helps individuals build their own online courses. Rally.io provides a way for creators to establish their own digital currencies.
The second-biggest category offers tools to handle the unglamorous backend of running a business, including customer-relationship-management systems like those from Moe, website builders from Big Cartel and financial products, such as influencer-focused credit card Karat and tax app Earnr.
The data, which is weighted towards U.S. firms, shows a patchwork of upstarts catering to specific niches. What’s missing is a “super app” that would bring together many of these different functions under one roof, from tracking finances and interactions with fans to showing how much inventory is left in a creator’s merch shop. That’s an opportunity for the startup with the biggest lead, say Patreon, or a large social media company like Facebook with cash to burn.
• Shopping during a live stream, which has long been popular among Chinese creators, is gaining traction. U.S. companies: Popshop Live and Supergreat.
• Reaching super fans directly via texting. Startup Community charges a subscription for this service.
• European venture capitalists are joining U.S. counterparts in backing these startups, says Ollie Forsyth, author of Antler's first-ever report.
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