Super.Fans Launches to Move the Creator Economy Beyond the Subscription Model
It can be easy to focus on the wrong things as an online creator. An obsession with posting content and counting followers can distract you from what counts — whether that's monetizing content or interacting with your fans.
Los Angeles-based Super, a platform that went into public beta last Tuesday, aims to make it easier for creators to build revenue models that fit their unique approach.
Co-founder Fernando Parnes, 26, had originally been working on a startup called Best Being, which was focused on matching individuals to wellness services. In December 2020, Best Being was rethinking its direction. At the time, Parnes was spending a lot of time watching DIY cooking videos on YouTube with his fiancee.
"We noticed a significant improvement in our day-to-day lives," Parnes said about the impact of the videos. "And that really kind of opened my eyes to the power that creators have," he added. "The first moment that I was like, wait, this is something really cool, the creator economy, there's really something there."
After huddling with his team and talking with some potential customers, he started on Super.
Leveraging Creative Freedom Beyond the Subscription Model
Super sees its advantage in allowing creators to own their communication pipeline with fans, moving beyond bombarding them with regular posts and emails and instead, giving them the flexibility to build experiences that fit their vision and approach.
"We allow our creators to create their own revenue models, '' said Parnes. "They've already come up with so much more than we ever could."
So far, those ideas include digital hosting open mic sessions, hosting pay-per-view live streams, as well as offering behind-the-scenes glimpses, courses and merchandise.
Competitors like Patreon place limits on the kind of experiences creators can implement, Parnes contends, forcing them into a subscription model and controlling access to their fans.
"If Patreon was like, 'no more, we are going to take you off the platform', there's very little you can do about that as a Patreon creator," Parnes said. "[On] Super, you own that data. You own the direct connection to your fan. So that's a big difference," said Parnes.
Super takes up to a 10% cut from creators when they make a sale on the platform. The company is also implementing a sliding scale fee that would reduce transaction fees for creators as they bring more fans onto the platform.
"The more fans you sign up, the more revenue you generate, the less you're going to pay in transaction fees," Parnes said.
He said he wants Super to be a stepping stone for creators to succeed financially without sacrificing their creative freedom. Part of that, he thinks, means moving beyond a focus on subscriber counts and on to metrics that matter.
"We actually don't look at subscriber count as a core metric," said Parnes, "Someone could have two million subscribers. What if a million of those are bots and the other 500,000 don't check out their account anymore?"
Instead, he's focused on helping creators build better relationships with their core, "super" fans. The startup doesn't exclude any type of creator on their platform — from chefs to musicians, vloggers, dancers and adult filmmakers.
"There's obviously certain types of content that promote hate, and things like that. Of course, any kind of creator that's promoting that sort of narrative—we wouldn't be comfortable working with," said Parnes.
Parnes said he's passionate about the creator economy. Los Angeles, at the center of the tech and entertainment worlds as well as icons in the creator economy such as Launch House, YES Theory, and Racket, made it an ideal place to launch.
To date, Super's platform hosts creators including ChefPk, Wes Walker, Mmonisy, Aprilynne Alter, Leo Guinan, Paige Finn Doherty, Footystars, and Teddy Zann, among others, and the company said it's in talks with more.Super has raised a total of $110,000 in funding from Behind the Genius Ventures, as well as family and friends. This month, they'll begin raising their first round of pre-seed funding.
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Pejman Nozad, a founding managing partner at Pear VC, joins this episode of LA Venture to discuss Pear VC's current initiatives, including its accelerator and fellowships. He's seen as one of the most successful angel investors in the area, and for good reason: he has made more than 300 investments in his lifetime.
"I'm a child of revolution and war and difficult times," said Nozad of his upbringing in Iran during the revolution.
Nozad went to college before dropping out. That's when his brother told him about his dream to go to America. After his brother was denied a visa multiple times, Nozad went himself to the embassy and got lucky; the woman in charge of the process liked him enough to approve him.
"When you're in [your] early twenties, you don't analyze much of the future. And then your risk-takers. I came to America in 1992 with $700 and I didn't speak any word of English," said Nozad.
Nozad went from working at a carwash, then a yogurt shop, to a (now famous) Persian rug store in Palo Alto. Many of his clients happened to be CEOs and venture capitalists; Nozad wanted to be part of that community.
"I was very lucky because I had access to people who normally nobody can see them, but I was hanging out with them at Sunday barbecues while selling carpets," said Nozad.
In his early days as an investor, Nozad bet on companies that included Dropbox and DoorDash. He said he took inspiration as a venture capitalist in lessons he learned from his time playing professional soccer in Iran.
"In soccer, you can score minute one, or you can score at minute 90. Both of them [are] one goal and you can win the game. So, when you go to fundraise, don't get disappointed if you hear a lot of nos, because the yes could be the last meeting after the whole two months," he said.
dot.LA Engagement Intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.
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In this episode of LA Venture, Julie Wroblewski talks about starting Magnify Ventures and helping modern families.
Wroblewski worked with Melinda French Gates to start Pivotal Ventures. For Wroblewski, it was her dream job as she got to lead venture capital investment strategy for five years. One of the focus areas at Pivotal was around caregiving innovation and American family homes.
Wroblewski cites a report from one of Magnify's partners that estimates the care economy at $648 billion in the United States, already larger than the pharmaceutical market. Wroblewski's fund is writing up to $2.5 million checks into companies that will transform life, work and care for modern families.
"I started to see what I thought was a very exciting and still overlooked category of investment in venture capital around the care economy, and family-focused technology and was also seeing a lot of flow and founders," said Wroblewski.
As an investor, she is particularly interested in tools like household optimization that help families be both more efficient and joyful. She also wants to let parents know they don't have to be experts. Technology can help give them access to what they need, when they need it.
"Technology is moving closer into our lives all the time and solving increasingly human, complex, difficult problems, including, how we care for and manage care for children and our loved ones--the things that are most personal to us," said Wroblewski.
"We've seen such a wave of technology innovation in the workplace. You know, we now use so many different tools to help increase our productivity at work, to improve our health and well being in some cases in the workplace," she added. "And I think we haven't yet seen the same sort of investment in innovation move into some areas of family life and household management. And so I think that that's going to change."
dot.LA Audience Engagement Intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.