Link-in-bio monetization platform Snipfeed raises a $5.5M seed round

The link-in-bio business is heating up as more mobile website builders compete for a coveted slice of real estate on a creator’s TikTok, Instagram, or Twitter. Linktree leads the space, securing a recent $45 million Series B raise to build out e-commerce features, but Beacons boasts competitive creator monetization tools with just a $6 million seed round in May. Now, Snipfeed enters the ring with its own $5.5 million seed round, including investments from CRV, Abstract Ventures, Crossbeam (Ali Hamed), id8, Michael Ovitz (founder of CAA), Michael Bosstick, Diaspora Ventures, and others.

Linktree has been around since 2016 and has more funding than its up-and-coming competitors. But for creators seeking to monetize their following, these newer platforms may be more attractive to some creators, since they already have built-in tools to help them monetize their followings. Linktree currently supports tipping on the platform for users subscribed to its $6 Linktree Pro platform, but Snipfeed offers a wider range of monetization options; some creators are making over $20,000 per month on the platform, according to CEO and co-founder Rédouane Ramdani.

Snipfeed started as a content discovery platform with 44,000 weekly active users — but when Snipfeed added a creator monetization tool to its platform, it became its most popular feature. So, in February 2020, with little to no funding left, the company completely pivoted to its current link-in-bio business. Since then, Snipfeed has amassed 50,000 registered users, with the user base growing 500% in the last six months (Linktree, for comparison, has over 12 million users).

Based in Paris and Los Angeles, Snipfeed’s 15-person staff is particularly interested in the “long tail” of creators, which it says encompasses over 46 million people.

“Content creator doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be the next Addison Rae or a TikTok star,” explained Ramdani. “It means that you might be a doctor or lawyer, and on top of that, you’re going to have a TikTok where you explain how to file your taxes and that kind of stuff. They have this expertise, and they’re wondering, ‘How can I turn that into a side-hustle?’”

Image Credits: Snipfeed

In addition to a standard tipping tool, Snipfeed allows users to sell digital goods, like on-demand video, ebooks, access to livestreams, and one-on-one consultations. But Snipfeed’s biggest differentiator is its Cameo-like system for selling personalized content. For example, TikToker maylikethemonthh uses Snipfeed to sell asynchronous, video-recorded tarot readings. While asking a single, personalized astrology question costs $5, a more in-depth reading can cost up to $20 or $40.

Snipfeed is free to set up, but if you make sales, the company takes 15% — this percentage is inclusive of any transaction fees. Through Snipfeed’s referral program, creators can make 5% of sales from anyone they onboard to the platform (this comes out of Snipfeed’s commission).

“We decided to go with this model because we really want to have a relationship where we help the creators really make money. We only make money if they make money,” Ramdani said.

If a creator or celebrity were to sell personalized videos on Cameo, they’d lose 25% to the platform. Meanwhile, Beacons takes 9% of sales from its free version, and 5% from its $10 per month version, which offers more customization, integrations, analytics.

Image Credits: Snipfeed

Still, depending on the type of creator, the features that each link-in-bio startup offers might matter more than the cost. Beacons allows users to share a shopping-enabled TikTok feed, which could be huge a money-maker for creators that often share product recommendations with affiliate links, which give them a commission from sales. Ramdani said that astrologers have been particularly successful on Snipfeed, since fans can book a variety of asynchronous services at a wide range of prices. But these features could benefit any creator who can profit from answering followers’ specific questions — a chef could offer recipe ideas based on what’s in a fan’s fridge, or a life coach could make a personalized video if a follower requests advice.

With its $5.5 million in seed funding, Snipfeed plans to build out its e-commerce tools so that creators can sell physical products on their link-in-bio (Beacons and Linktree are also working on this with their recent funding rounds — but Beacons’ and Snipfeed’s seed rounds are small compared to Linktree’s Series B). The company also wants to develop educational content to show its users how to best monetize their platform — if Snipfeed can help its creators make money, then it’ll make more money too.

#abstract-ventures, #ali-hamed, #apps, #beacons, #caa, #crossbeam, #founder, #instagram, #lawyer, #link-in-bio, #linktree, #los-angeles, #michael-ovitz, #monetization, #paris, #real-estate, #social-media, #software, #tiktok, #video-hosting, #website, #world-wide-web

Beacons raises $6 million for its link-in-bio homepage builder that lets creators monetize

Mobile landing page builder Beacons has raised $6 million seed round to expand its vision for empowering creators to make money beyond the cramped confines of their social media profiles. The company, co-founded by Neal Jean, Jesse Zhang, Greg Luppescu and David Zeng, provides anyone who uses social media a single, mobile-optimized link hub to display to their followers.

Like competitor Linktree, Beacons gives people a way to link out to other sites directly from their TikTok, Instagram, or Twitter profile, including pointing followers toward potential income streams like donations and affiliate links. Other companies in the “link in bio” space include Shorby, Milkshake, Tap.bio, Link in Profile, bio.fm and Campsite.

Beacons launched in private beta in September 2020 after emerging out of Y Combinator’s Summer 2019 cohort. Andreessen Horowitz will lead the seed round and is joined by Atelier Ventures, The Chainsmokers’ Mantis Fund, Night Media Ventures and LOUDgg, the Brazilian esports group.

The $6 million seed round will build on $600,000 that Beacons raised in an angel round, allowing the team to hire more engineers and designers to grow its small four-person team of first-time founders.

“I think where we’re really different than Linktree is we let creators customize and personalize their pages all for free and we offer a lot more of those options on our free plan,” Beacons co-founder and CEO Neal Jean told TechCrunch.

“…Creators care a lot about how their website looks so that’s been a good way for us to give creators the features that they want and help us grow our share in the market too.”

To keep creators locked into their own platforms and forthcoming monetization schemes, social media companies don’t offer much support for embedded links, particularly on individual pieces of content. Many also restrict users to one URL in their profiles, putting pressure on creators to maximize the utility of a single link. Beacons reasonably argues that the restrictive design of most social platforms stunts the ability of creators to easily and flexibly make money from their content.

“In the beginning we’re basically building all these different kinds of features for creators to use but I think in the long run the way to make that more scalable is to turn into more of a platform or an ecosystem that lots of people can build on,” Jean said.

“Today, I think we’re probably more like a Wix or a Squarespace for content creators, but in the future I think we want to be a little bit more like Shopify for creators.”

Building on Beacons

Beacons lets users choose between free and premium tiers. At $10 per month, the “entrepreneur” tier offers a couple of killer features worth considering, including support for custom domains and additional “blocks” — the link, text and image slots that comprise a Beacons page.

Beyond premium pricing, Beacons makes money by taking a cut of sales through its handful of monetization-focused blocks, like a shopping-enabled TikTok feed, a digital storefront for videos and ebooks, and a “requests” block that lets creators sell custom content directly to their followers. Beacons’ free plan charges a 9% fee on transactions, while the premium plan cuts that down to 5%.

Landing sites built through Beacons are deeply customizable, hearkening back to the MySpace era of media-rich, curated homepages. The company recently added what it calls the “community block,” a designated place where creators can highlight collaborators they might team up with often on a collab-obsessed platform like TikTok. The company currently counts Sia, Green Day and Russell Brand among its high profile users.

Beacons also supports mobile marketing through email and SMS and analytics to help creators understand their audiences. The company says that its user base has grown by 70% every month since its October launch.

Today’s content creators and consumers have more sophisticated expectations than existing social platforms allow,” Jean said in the funding announcement. “…With Beacons, creators can control their destiny by directing online traffic to a custom domain that looks awesome, is shareable and ultimately generates revenue.” 

#andreessen-horowitz, #atelier-ventures, #beacons, #linktree, #social, #social-media, #software, #tc, #tiktok, #y-combinator

Beacons debuts a ‘link in bio’ mobile website builder that helps creators make money, not just list links

Today, there are a number of website builders aimed at creators who want to point fans to a dedicated landing page from their social media profile. If you’ve spent any time on TikTok or Instagram, you’ve likely come across one of these simplified “link in bio”-style websites — like those hosted by Linktree, for example. A new startup called Beacons is now entering this market with the goal of making “link in bio” websites even more powerful. Its website builder offers creators an expanded set of tools to monetize their community, including through donations, sales, paid requests, affiliate shopping and more.

After signing up for the service, Beacons walks the user through a series of questions, many which can be answered with just a “yes” or “no.” For example, Beacons may ask the user if they want to accept donations or collect followers’ emails, if they make TikTok or YouTube videos, and which category they’re in, in terms of the content they create.

This information is used to set up their Beacons landing page with the right content sections, which Beacons calls “blocks.” At launch, Beacons offers around a dozen of these configurable blocks, like email and SMS collection modules, video embed blocks for TikTok or YouTube creators, music blocks for embedding a track or album, a Twitter block to embed a tweet or Twitter profile, and link blocks, similar to Linktree, among others.

There’s even a “friends” block, which is like a modern-day Myspace Top 8. This lets you link out to your friends on either Beacons, Instagram, Twitter or TikTok.

An area where Beacons differentiates itself from other “link in bio” website builders, however, is with its set of “monetization” blocks. Today, it has four tools for creators who want to generate revenue from their online presence. One of these is similar to Cameo, as it allows the creator to set up a menu of options to take fan requests for personalized content. For instance, fans could ask a fitness influencer to critique their routine, or they could pay to have their burning questions answered by someone they admire. The creator can then send out a personalized response either publicly or privately.

Other monetization blocks allow creators to accept donations or sell digital downloads — like e-books or paid video content, for instance.

Image Credits: Beacons

The fourth, and perhaps most interesting, monetization block is a TikTok shopping feature. It allows creators to embed their TikTok videos where they recommend products directly on their Beacons website. From here, they can add affiliate links to the products in question, allowing them to directly generate revenue when fans purchase the items they’ve featured.

This particular feature comes at an opportune time. Today, TikTok is only beginning to formalize its plans around e-commerce. In a recent presentation to marketers, TikTok spoke of its plans to launch new online shopping tools that would allow brands to more directly reach TikTok’s younger audience. TikTok has also partnered with Shopify on social commerce, and has experimented with live video shopping, including with a holiday event hosted by Walmart.

But TikTok’s creators have already been driving shopping trends across categories like fashion, beauty, home décor, household items, toys and much more, to the point that “TikTok made me buy it,” has become a common excuse for the impulse purchases prompted by TikTok’s viral content. By allowing creators to now more directly and financially benefit from these trends is the next logical step.

Image Credits: Beacons

The idea for Beacons comes from co-founders Neal Jean, Jesse Zhang, Greg Luppescu and David Zeng. Neal, Jesse and David met while in the PhD program at Stanford studying different areas of research, like machine learning and AI. Greg, meanwhile, did his Master’s at Stanford, then went on to work at Apple on the Apple Watch team.

Neal, Jesse and David had teamed up on Beacons and went through the Y Combinator Summer 2019 batch, iterating on ideas and pivoting the product several times. Some of those early concepts may eventually return — like a Shopify integration that would connect creators with brands selling on Shopify, for example.

The broader focus, however, had always been on helping creators make money, says Neal.

“Even before our current product, we were really focused on trying to help creators solve monetization,” he explains. “When we kind of made this mini-pivot into the more Linktree-like product, we thought about building features that can help creators actually generate revenue — which I don’t think Linktree or any of the existing incumbents in the space were doing. Even today, you can’t actually make any money through Linktree,” he notes.

Linktree, of course, is only one of many “link in bio” websites on the market today, which means Beacons still faces a lot of competition. Other rivals include Linkin.bio, Lnk.bio, Shorby, Tap.bio, Feedlink.io, Link in Profile, Milkshake, Campsite, bio.fm, url.bio and biolincs.me, for example.

Unlike some of its competitors, Beacons offers its tools for free and instead monetizes through a premium plan ($10/mo) that allows creators to use their own custom domain. It also makes money by taking a percentage of sales on the requests and sales blocks, which is either 9% on the free plan or 5% on the paid plan. This rev share doesn’t bring in much money today — only “hundreds” of dollars — but the team believes that will scale as the startup grows and gains a large user base.

“Our strategy is…to continue building out more of these different kinds of revenue streams for creators,” says Neal. “And as we do that, I think, the fraction of transactional revenue will become higher relative to the subscription revenue than it is today.”

Since launching in private beta last September, Beacons has seen 90,000 sign-ups and now has over 20,000 people who are considered active users of the product — most arrived in the last couple of months when the service began to roll out some of its newer features. So far, Beacons hasn’t done any paid marketing, with around 77% of new users coming to Beacons because they saw it on someone else’s profile.

The team raised a small, post-YC angel round of around $600,000 but is looking to fundraise in the future.

#beacons, #mobile, #mobile-websites, #startups, #tc