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Marketplace for Clubhouse Creators

    A platform to sponsor Clubhousers

    ֿDomain Advertising
    Status reached: First raise of $250K
    When: Six months in 2021
    Team skillset: Three founders: 2 devs and one with advertising experience

    Thesis/Idea

    At the height of Covid I started using Clubhouse, the social audio app/platform. I went into a room and heard the CEO of Product Hunt, Ryan Hoover, talk about the need for a marketplace to sponsor Clubhousers (ie, the creators on Clubhouse). I had experience in marketplaces, so decided it might be a good idea.

    I had two co-founders and we decided we would do validation without writing a single line of code, so we started with a landing page that allowed creators to sign up and users/brands to sponsor creators. Clubhouse was a hot name, so when we went to reporters, even at this early stage, there was a lot of interest and we got articles in Business Insider and VentureBeat. Ryan Hoover of Product Hunt also contributed to the hype, since he was excited that someone picked up his idea, and we got 150 brands who wanted to advertise for $2.5 in soft commitments, including from Fortune 500 companies. We had sign ups from 4000 creators. We did 30 deals out of the 150 brands that sign up.

    We decided that there was a business, but before writing code decided to make the market manually for a few months. However, the lack of analytics made the pitch to advertisers difficult. We realized a marketplace is tough – a lot of friction to connect sponsors with creators. There were also questions about live audio as a medium. We understood that it wasn’t a great idea, even though we saw a lot of success in the early go-to-market. 

    At that point we did a pivot to build tools for creator analytics. V1 was building Google Analytics for it, but it was hard to get people to pay for that. V2 is B2B to help companies get content out on social channels. Investors understood the challenges and were happy to pivot. 

    Why the original idea didn’t progress

    • VCs were unhappy about the fact that we were building a company on a hype-driven platform like Clubhouse. Smart investors understood that it was just hype and those who invested actually invested in the team since they assumed we would pivot. 
    • Friction of Marketplace model
    • No moat

    Insights

    • Don’t let the success of GTM blind you to questions about the business model. 
    • Marketplace is hard. Try to develop a tool for one of the sides in the marketplace. 
    • De-risk (get go/no go) without writing code, if possible. 
    • Try things quickly and move on. We tried things for a week or two each time, saw how they worked, and moved on. We were able to run campaigns and create a landing page very quickly and get attention. 
    • It’s easy to get PR if you’re in a high hype industry.