The things with breaks is, you can never really get the timing just right.
What was supposed to be a 2-year break for me(from 2017), before starting up again, has now become 3 years. In 2016, I joined Siftery as their first community hire and built the community until their acquisition by G2. I then joined AngelList in 2018, as their first Director of Community.
June this year was my last month at AngelList.
Through my work at Siftery, AngelList, and Product Hunt I had the opportunity to interact with a ton of founders, and it has been an incredible learning experience. I observed and learnt how to build products, distribution strategies, communities, and remote teams. I’m grateful to every founder I interacted with over the years.
Thank you for all the learnings 🙏.
The last few months since I left AngelList in June, have been exciting. I was part of the fourth cohort of the On Deck Fellowship. I had the opportunity to interact with and learn from a bunch of incredibly talented individuals who were also in the formative stages of starting a company and exploring what their next challenge would be.
Since early January, I have been exploring my next challenge – starting up again. I spent the last couple of months speaking to founders, creators, and community folks; exploring ideas in the community tools and creator economy space.
I could divide whats happening in the creator economy into 4 phases.
- 1st phase: Rise of media platforms that allowed creators to build audiences.
- 2nd phase: Connecting creators to brands to leverage their audiences.
- 3rd phase: Tools that help creators monetize their influence through their audience.
- 4th phase: Business-in-a-box platforms that enable creators to create & own their content; manage, grow and monetize their audience (community/fans).
The next few years will see the rise of the Business-in-a-Box platforms(already happening, more new tools launching). They will enable you to start, manage, and grow your business!
And creators are like SMB’s at the end of the day-their product being their creativity.
All the tools that SMB’s need to succeed-you could repurpose for creators. A bunch of tools and platforms are currently enabling this for influencers, creators, and just about anyone with a phone and a good idea.
A decade ago, social media companies started out with this simple promise to creators:- If you could just get someone to click the subscribe button, you could distribute content to them. Thus began the subscriber race – where we saw the most creative minds on the internet obsessing about how to make an audience member hit the subscribe button.
As the algorithm took over our feeds however, that original promise was broken.
Due to mutable algorithms, creators today know that social media platforms are not reliable distribution channels. One small change in code/AI model and a creator loses the ability to reach their audience. At the same time, creators heavily rely on a platforms’ ad revenue – all while having no control over their content or audience.
It’s no wonder then that creators today are looking for more reliable ways to distribute content and establish stable revenue streams.
For the past decade, platforms enabled creators to monetize based on their audience size and influence. But the most valuable asset for any creator is his content through which they build their audience on these platforms. In the last few years, a slew of platforms has enabled creators to monetize better through memberships or subscriptions in exchange for exclusive content for their fans.
Today, fans want a closer connection with a creator – even a sense of membership and community. And they have proven that they are willing to pay for such a connection.
This is just the tip of the iceberg-there is a whole world of creator-community connection that is still left to explore.
As someone who has observed, learnt from and built multiple communities, I wanted to build a platform for creators to monetize their engagement with their communities.
One that would change the game for creators.
Joining Deobrat and Nachi
“If fate doesn’t make you laugh, you just don’t get the joke.”— Gregory David Roberts.
Nachi, Deobrat, and I met during 500 Startups Accelerator in 2012 while in Mountain View. Deobrat and I got funded by 500 Startups for our previous respective startups Gazemetrix and Walletkit – making us a part of their Batch 5 Accelerator. Nachi was advising with a few of the accelerator companies.
Over the years, we kept in touch and I have seen them evolve in their professional and personal lives. What struck me as especially noteworthy is the modesty they have demonstrated at the highs and the ability to learn and grow at the lows.
I have seen Deobrat evolve from a skilled engineer to an adept seller to a business leader who has built partnerships with brands like Coca-Cola.
Nachi is one of the sharpest minds I have met when it comes to product, design, and growth. I have witnessed Nachi learn and grow by facing discomfort and failure head-on, always with a smile.
Through failure and success, we have all been close confidants to each other.
When Nachi was exploring moving back to India, I was one of the first people he reached out to, to understand the Indian startup ecosystem. Over the last two years, he worked at Accel and led the product and growth practice as part of the venture development team. Late last year, he told me about an idea he was exploring in the future-of-work space and asked me to join him as a co-founder. Although I liked the vision, I wasn’t sure if it was something I wanted to work on in the next few years of my life.
After selling Gazemetrix to Sysomos which later got acquired by Meltwater, Deobrat was itching to start up again. Before moving back to India, he gave me a call and we planned to exchange our plans for the future once he had touched down.
When we met in January this year, he told me about the creator collaboration platform he was working on called CreatorStack and asked to me join him as a co-founder. I like the vision he had for the company but wasn’t sure of his GTM. However, I felt Nachi would be a great co-founder for him and connected them both. They eventually became co-founders. We continued to exchange notes over the next few months.
Meanwhile, I continued to develop my own thesis on building in the creator economy. In August, I felt a strong conviction about building a community-led platform for creators. When we met again, they showed me their evolved vision and roadmap. We realized we had a strong mission alignment but just approaching the same problem from different angles. This time when they insisted that I come on board, the decision was much easier than before.
I have known both of them for the good part of a decade; they have complementary skill sets to my own and most importantly, our values and visions were aligned. We make a great team and I can think of no better set of people that I want on my side to tackle this particular challenge with.
8 years ago, while we were all budding entrepreneurs in the valley – Deobrat, Nachi, and I shared a roof together building our separate visions. Now the three of us have come together under the same roof again and we are building a shared vision. And it is a vision that inspires us.
A world where talent comes before influence; craft is valued over connections and success is defined not by who you know but what you know
A world where creativity is the new currency.
The last decade saw the rise of the Technological Entrepreneur. Now is the time for the rise of the Creative Entrepreneur.
And we want to fuel this movement.
The founding team of CreatorStack is a diverse mixture of seasoned technology entrepreneurs, musicians, content creators, and artists.
What unites us is a passion for our crafts and a shared mission of making the future a more creative place.