How We Started A $150K/Month Platform Where Streamers Can Monetize Their Audience
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello! My name is Vicent and I am the co-founder and CMO of Streamloots, a marketplace where you can buy real-time interactions with live streamers. We founded the company almost 3 years ago with the purpose to help the streamers and content creators to make a living doing what they love: content creation.
Since the beginning, we have always been focused on streamers and live-streaming content creators. Streamloots were created as a means to enable streamers to monetize their audience and not depend on third-party platforms like Twitch, Youtube Gaming, or Facebook Gaming. Why? Because on any of these platforms (Ads) the monetization does not depend on you. For instance, during the COVID-19 lockdown, the ads reduced drastically in most industries, while Streamloots, on the other hand, grew faster than ever.
The current product we are offering allows streamers to sell the gift of interaction in the form of chests to their viewers. Viewers, in this way, can interact with their favorite streamers, participate in their show and communicate with them, roast them, mess with them, everything under the control of the streamers, since it’s them who decide what cards are for sale.
These interactions are represented in the form of digital cards. Whenever a user purchases a chest from a streamer and redeems a card, this card appears on the streamer’s screen. An interaction could be anything from redeeming a scary card to scare off the streamer to asking the streamer to play with their eyes closed or dressed as a unicorn! It can be anything the streamer decides to allow the viewers!
This is the product we are currently offering, but for sure we are still looking to evolve in many ways. Our mission is to enable creators to become individual corporations, regardless of the content of their stream.
We want to lead a shift in the current work environment, changing it from the traditional employment arrangements that apply nowadays to self-employment that allows for greater autonomy and the monetization of creativity at scale.
The way we are implementing to achieve this is by giving creators the ability to truly own their audience, instead of “renting” it from social media platforms, by supporting them into managing and growing their businesses, by giving them access to perks that have traditionally been associated with employee-employer jobs and, last but not least, by connecting them to work opportunities.
Currently, we have a community of more than 12K active streamers in our platform who, just in the last quarter, have earned over $1M.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
When I was still a student at the university, studying computer engineering, I felt that I wanted to start a project and learn from the process of building something. It was right at that moment when I decided I needed to talk to my parents and ask them to allow me to quit university for one year and try to work on a personal project.
I started with small projects, working as a marketing freelancer, and then I decided on founding a marketing agency. With one of these projects, I participated in a startup accelerator in Spain. The project did not go well but at this startup accelerator is where I met my current co-founders. Since my project wasn’t going well, I stopped working on it. This is when I started working with my current co-founders.
At that moment, all my teammates and current partners and I, all had the same problem in our minds: “The problem of monetization in e-sports and live streaming”.
We started trying to validate different business models: a platform for amateur players to win money betting on other players where they can monetize the hours playing video games and another platform to invest in professional esports players and teams in the blockchain.
With this last idea, we reached the final stage of the YCombinator selection process. But we had a problem. We couldn’t prove that our idea worked because no one would pay $1 to invest in esports players or teams. After all, the platform was virtual. We tried to validate this model but it was so complicated in legal terms and, having the same idea in mind, we moved to “blockchain tokens” and changed it for digital cards. And, instead of investing, the viewers could support the streamers buying their chests.
At that point, we were able to validate the idea, because we did not have complex legal terms. In 2 weeks, we contacted more than 50 streamers by email. 3 of them answered us and started an MVP. 3 landing pages with a card collection (25 cards on each collection) and you can purchase a chest and redeem a card and appear on the streamer screen.
We launched this MVP on the 6th of January in 2018. The first day we did more than $500 in revenue. But this was not the best part. The best part was that other streamers started asking us to add it to their streams because they loved the product. They joined a waiting list because we didn’t even have a way for them to register!
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
As I mentioned before, we created our first MVP of Streamloots in just 2 weeks. We created three different landing pages for the three different streamers. At this point, we couldn’t spend much time validating the idea and we used the least possible to create it. How did we do it? We used an API to send the images and alerts to the streamer’s screen and Paypal for the purchases and sent the money directly to the streamer.
In the beginning, as a validation process, we didn’t take any commission on sales. We created the card designs on Photoshop one by one (now we have a card creator on our platform and the best Streamloots Originals collections to add it to your collections in less than a minute) and upload manually to the landing page. We worked at least 3 months with this MVP while we developed the whole platform.
Describe the process of launching the business.
When we first started with Streamloots, we had a clear idea of how to process the launch. We were (and still are) big fans of Twitch streams so we knew the Spanish streaming community kind of well.
You can’t do it alone. The company grows faster than people so you need to keep pushing yourself every day to grow that fast.
We started collecting emails and writing personally to all of the streamer’s whose email we had collected. Only 3 answered us positively. When we sent these emails, we didn’t have the platform and we tried to convince them with a presentation on Google Slides. As an anecdote, one of these emails was answered one year later and now this streamer is using us.
We continued with that strategy for at least a couple of months. What was positive in the communication of our product is that when a streamer started using Streamloots, they would also promote Streamloots on Twitter and we would appear on their streaming and all of their viewers/followers would… see us, too. Of course, inside these followers and viewers, there are always streamers that could be interested in our product.
In the first two months, we had 12 new streamers each month. We didn’t have the platform ready and we created everything manually (card images on photoshop, upload everything on a google sheet to download as a CSV, and then upload as a JSON to our database… a super long process).
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
In terms of growth, we use a core part of the platform to create viral loops.
When a streamer joins the platform, they bring part of their viewers to Streamloots. Among these viewers, some streamers potentially see how Streamloots works and decide to register.
In this way, with every streamer that is already using Streamloots, we gain other streamers who might be interested. Due to this viral loop, more than 90% of new streamers have come because of registered streamers. Our main goal is to keep feeding this loop with new streamers who will potentially bring some more.
Each loop, what we call Network, has a smaller or bigger density based on the quantity of “affected” streamers. Our strategy is targeting streamers that are connected to creating networks. This way we target a few key streamers in the network and when they start using Streamloots, the platform starts to spread out among the rest of the connected streamers.
With that in mind, we create campaigns to make enough noise to bring more streamers to our platform. For example, at the end of this past year, we created a report that allowed streamers to share with their community how much support they have had during that whole year, and viewers to share how much support they had given to their favorite streamers.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
When we started, we focused on developing Streamloots in Spain but since 6-8 months ago, we started putting the focus on English speaking countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. Our long term plan is to arrive in Asia and establish Streamloors in the vast Asian market.
If you want to become an entrepreneur or are starting a project, my advice to you is to just do it: just try it, and then you will know if it is for you or not.
Our vision is also to empower content creators to make a living doing what they love. Currently, our main focus is on gaming streamers, but we have a big amount of creators, such as musicians, writers, actors that would fit well in our business model. It’s all about testing the waters.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Building a company teaches you a lot. The most important one is how to form a team and hire the right people. Values are so important to make sure all the team is aligned and they trust each other. You should empower people to build great things. You can’t do it alone. The company grows faster than people so you need to keep pushing yourself every day to grow that fast.
Learning to grow is much more important than growth. Entrepreneurship is a marathon race and not a sprint. It’s important to keep that in mind.
Your day by day life, as an entrepreneur, will for sure be frenetic. If you feel that you have everything under control, you are going too slow. I had to teach myself to stop overthinking and that the stress and anxiety will go away when you reach the next milestone. Stress keeps increasing after every milestone and, as a founder, you need to learn how to manage it.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
For internal organization and communication between all the departments, we use Asana, Google Calendar, and Slack. We all work remotely and have different time zones, so these organizational tools are vital. We have the mentality that you can work whenever you want as long as you attend the meeting and you get the work done. Each employee is responsible for their work and the time they work on it.
For analyses, we use Amplitude and Google Analytics, while our data team uses PowerBi to create great reports. For customer support, we use Crisp chat.
In Marketing, we use some tools such as Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud for email marketing, Metricool, and Social Studio to manage social networks and, of course, Integromat to automate different processes.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
For books, I highly recommend the Making of a Manager, Hooked, Blitzscaling, and The hard thing about hard things as books. As for podcasts, I listen to The Growth TL;DR and The B2B Marketing Leaders Podcasts.
I also love reading these blogs: Andrew Chen’s blog, Reforge, and Lenny’s Newsletter. The Growth Hackers newsletter is super great too.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Being an entrepreneur is the best university I have had in my life. Nonetheless, I know that not everyone can be an entrepreneur, but on the other hand, everyone can try it as long as they have a computer and an internet connection.
If you want to become an entrepreneur or are starting a project, my advice to you is to just do it: just try it, and then you will know if it is for you or not. The same happens with content creation; everyone can try it and see if they love it or not.
The best advice I could give someone if they allowed me the confidence to do so, is to never stop trying it. What would have happened if, after we weren’t accepted in the final round on Y Combinator, we stopped trying? For sure, we wouldn’t have been accepted in a Boost VC accelerator in Silicon Valley where we stayed for three months.
Related to that experience, something that helped us a lot was to always try to do things differently. For example, on the demo day in Silicon Valley with more than 100 investors, we decided to wear a unicorn hat.
You might think it’s a stupid idea but we had a plan with it and that’s no other than try and gain attention so then the investors would remember our project. Why would they do so? Well, we wore a unicorn hat. A few days after the event we received emails telling us: “I remember your unicorn hat on the demo day. I want to talk with you because I’m interested in investing in Streamloots”.
To this day, that same investor is still investing in our company. People that were at the event started tweeting a lot about the whole experience with one tweet resuming the whole event. You guessed it right: the unicorn hat. (And for sure, Streamloots!)
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are currently growing very fast as a company and we are looking to hire for these positions:
🦸♀️ A Tech lead to inspire and lead engineers from different squads, nourishing them with new and interesting challenges while ensuring the quality of its technical deliverables.
🦸♂️ A Product Manager to be the user ambassador within the company, lead a Squad and bring new products to market; preparing return-on-investment analyses; establishing time schedules with the rest of the squad.
👩💻👨💻 A Senior Data Analyst and work closely with leaders across marketing, product, and sales to support and implement high-quality, data-driven decisions?
Where can we go to learn more?
- Twitter: @vicentmarti_ || @streamloots
- Linkedin: Vicent Martí Pérez || Streamloots
- Instagram: @vicentmarti_ || @streamloots
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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