Tecnología e Innovación

16 Creator Economy Startups That Raised Money in a Bear Market … – Business Insider

It’s been a challenging fundraising year for creator-economy startups.

In the first three quarters of 2023, the number of funding deals among North American upstarts in the category fell 48% compared to the same period in 2022, according to data compiled by PitchBook. That trend falls in line with a broader drop-off in venture-capital deals across all sectors, as total investment was cut in half for the first six months of 2023 compared to the same window last year.

But as in any tale of hard times, there have been outliers. Some creator upstarts have still managed to raise millions of dollars in 2023 despite constraining macroeconomic conditions.

Pietra, a marketplace that enables creators to launch products and e-commerce brands, raised in March a $16.1 million Series A round from investors including Abstract Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and Founders Fund, for example. Link-in-bio upstart Hype in April announced it had raised a $10 million Series A.

For some founders, the ability to woo investors has centered on proving their products are successful today rather than asking VCs to bet on an unproven future idea.

Kara Burney, chief marketing officer at the music-tech upstart Vault, which raised $5.8 million in June as part of a rolling Series A, described the fundraising environment as “brutal.”

Burney’s company, which is built on blockchain technology, faced additional headwinds due to waning investor interest in Web3 and cryptocurrency technologies. The company still successfully fundraised this year by showing it already had a tangible product with demand versus promising something that hadn’t yet been built, she said.

“The great thing about a bear market is seeing who actually has legs and can stick around,” she said.

Other startup founders have leveraged their existing experience in the creator economy and tech to raise money in a rough VC environment.

“We knew going into it that we are fundraising in arguably the most challenging fundraising environment in recent times,” said Arthur Leopold, cofounder of the creator-marketing platform Agentio and a former president at Cameo. Leopold pointed to the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and a broad decline in seed funding as making the moment particularly difficult.

But Agentio still raised $4.25 million in a seed round from investors like Craft Ventures, AlleyCorp, and Antler, as well as Cameo CEO Steven Galanis and YouTuber Cody Ko.

“It would have been very challenging without our backgrounds and experiences,” Leopold said of the fundraising process. “Part of those backgrounds comes with us building great networks and deep trust through prior experiences with some of the best founders, creators, and marketers in the world.”

BI worked with PitchBook to compile a list of creator-focused startups in North America that had successfully fundraised in 2023 despite a diminished risk appetite among investors. The funding ranged from a few million dollars to as much as $70 million for one startup. We also referenced our own reporting on creator-economy startups to identify some of this year’s success stories.

Here are 16 of those companies, listed in alphabetical order:

  • Afterparty, a creator-fan engagement startup, raised $5 million in an early-stage VC round announced in September from firms like Acrew Capital, Act One Ventures, and Blockchange Ventures. The startup announced the fundraising alongside its latest project, Afterparty AI, which will let creators make AI versions of themselves for fans to interact with.

  • Agentio raised $4.25 million in a seed round it announced in November from investors like Craft Ventures, AlleyCorp, and Antler. The company’s newly launched product helps brands and marketers automate the process of running creator-read ads on YouTube.

  • Amaze, a creator-monetization startup, told BI it raised this year $9.2 million in a Series A-3 round including Tribe Capital. In 2022, Amaze acquired merchandise startup Spring (formerly Teespring).

  • Beatclub, a marketplace for music creators to connect with record labels, publishers, brands, and other parties, raised $17.6 million in February from investors Cleveland Avenue and Hipgnosis Songs, according to PitchBook.

  • Beehiiv, a newsletter platform, raised a $12.5 million Series A announced in June from investors like Lightspeed, Creator Ventures, and Blue Wire Capital.

  • Captions, an AI-powered creative studio platform, raised $25 million in a Series B round announced in June led by Kleiner Perkins, including participants like Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and SV Angel. The startup plans to use its funding to expand its team and invest in product and proprietary models, per a spokesperson.

  • GigaStar, a company that enables YouTubers to raise money by sharing future revenue with investors, raised $4.8 million in a seed round in March from investors like DV Crypto VC, Tomsic Holdings, Nameless Ventures, and Belvedere Strategic Capital. The company’s marketing chief told BI it plans to use the funding to invest in core products like its crowdfunding tool, GigaStar Market, and GigaStar Portfolio.

  • Harbour, a contract management platform, raised $17.2 million in a Series A round announced in August from investors like Jonathan Klein, Scribble Ventures, and The Palmer Company, according to PitchBook.

  • Hype, a link-in-bio upstart formerly known as Pico, raised $10 million in a Series A round announced in April and led by King River Capital with participating firms including Bullpen Capital, Precursor Ventures, and Bloomberg Beta.

  • Karat Financial, a creator-finance company that offers a payment card for influencers, told BI in June that it raised $70 million across a $40 million Series B and $30 million debt financing round with investors like SignalFire, Union Square Ventures, CRV, and TriplePoint Capital.

  • Pietra, an upstart that enables creators to build e-commerce businesses, raised $16.1 million in a Series A in March from investors like Abstract Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and Founders Fund. CEO Ronak Trivedi said the company plans to use its funds to grow its engineering and design teams, continue building the platform, and expand globally.

  • Sunroom, a community platform built for women and non-binary creators, raised $6.8 million in September from investors like Blackbird Ventures, Graph Ventures, and Green Bay Ventures, according to PitchBook.

  • Vault, a blockchain-based marketplace where music artists can sell limited-release drops of songs or albums, raised $5.8 million in June in a rolling Series A round from investors like AlleyCorp, Bullpen Capital, and Calm Ventures. The company said it plans to use its funding to invest in its product and build out a decentralized protocol for buying, playing, and sharing music.

  • Whop, a marketplace for digital goods, announced a $17 million Series A in July. The round was led by Insight Partners with participation from Peter Thiel, Justin Mateen, The Chainsmokers, and creators-turned-VCs Josh Richards and Griffin Johnson.

  • Wild.xyz, a marketplace for digital art and NFT creators, raised $7 million in March in a seed round from investors like Matrix Partners, Reid Hoffman, and Gwyneth Paltrow, according to PitchBook.

  • Zarta, a video platform for exclusive pay-per-view content, raised $5.7 million in a seed round announced in May from investors like Andreessen Horowitz, AirAngels, and Dragonfly. The startup was founded by content creator Luba Yudasina.

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Ricardo Navarro

Navegando por la maraña de la información con la varita mágica de las palabras, soy Ricardo Navarro, un Alquimista de Contenido Web que transforma ideas en tesoros literarios. Mi paso por la IE University dotó mi pluma con la pócima del conocimiento. Como un mago de las letras, mis escritos van desde el telar de la economía mundial hasta las tierras inexploradas de la exploración, desde los circuitos de la tecnología y la innovación hasta las pasarelas de la moda y los senderos del turismo. Y cuando la tinta se apaga, me lanzo a la aventura de viajar, buscando nuevos ingredientes para mis creaciones. Cada palabra es una esencia destilada con autenticidad, tejida con el hilo de la transparencia. Únete a mí en este viaje literario donde las letras se funden como metales preciosos, creando un elixir de conocimiento y creatividad que nos guía hacia la exploración de los mundos literarios más inexplorados.

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