The first half of Kaunas-based startup: attracted funding and plans of expanding to foreign markets
Although Kaunas-based startup Contribee has only closed its first half year of existence, it has already done a lot of work. Increasing consumer flows, the growing team, and the attracted funding, which will allow the technology company to set foot in other European markets, show that flexible and dynamic startup creators are penetrating the membership platform market with ambition and confidence.
The name Contribee comes from the English word “contribution”, which means help, cooperation, or donation. The whole idea and functioning of the startup were built on this foundation – to create a tool for bloggers, video game broadcasters, charity projects, sports organizations, educational institutions, businesses, artists, and other creators of various content who want to turn their hobby into a livelihood. And for their viewers – content users – to be able to quickly and conveniently support the creator they like or get access to the desired content.
Like most startups, Contribee was adjusting its functionality during the first months of its existence and flexibly adapted to market needs.
“We noticed larger unplanned changes in the vertical lines of potential users. If the initial focus was only on vloggers or video makers, over time, non-profit or professional sports organizations, beauty specialists, racers, coaches, or even perishes started showing an interest,” Mantas Michalauskas, one of the startup’s founders, spoke about the expanding circle of the platform users.
Since such creators cannot offer exclusive content that is locked under subscriptions, a one-time support option becomes a key benefit for them. This need was also noticed among the content users. Some people, who want to support the creators, are afraid of being tied to monthly payments. This is how the one-off support was conceived, attracting both new content creators and their sponsors.
Another attractive innovation offered by the startup is the pay-per-post feature. It is especially liked by those creators who are interested in selling access to the broadcast of various performances: plays, shows, concerts, training, or courses.
Currently, the founders of the startup estimate that there are over 130 creators on the platform and about 1,500 users/sponsors, who have made over 1,800 payments through the platform – meaning they support more than one creator or support the same one more than once.
Preparing to step into new markets
The team that grew from 6 to 11 people and the funding that the startup received – most of which will go to marketing – allow the creators of Contribee to accelerate and actively investigate the horizons for further development.
“Currently, our team is conducting various market research. We are deciding which countries to enter first. We know that we will start with those European countries that do not have a foreign crowdfunding platform. This requires careful preparation – after all, such platforms are valued differently in each country. In addition, we are not only considering which countries to enter but also how to present ourselves properly, what advertising channels to choose, which creators to pick for cooperation,” M. Michalauskas says.
Before launching the startup, its founders hinted that each member of the team at that time was also a shareholder of the company, that is why they worked on the project with motivation and without any pay. The situation is currently changing. The team, which has almost doubled in size, has been strengthened by marketing, sales, and IT professionals, who are being compensated for their work.
“We have chosen a block of shares, to which all employees, depending on the value created for the company, have a claim. However, this month we will complete the first stage of investment, therefore we can offer new employees not only a block of shares but also competitive salaries,” M. Michalauskas says.
The startup launch was focused on growing the number of users. This was to become the most essential criterion for showing prospective investors that Contribee is addressing important market issues, is useful and necessary.
“We believe that the set goals were achieved perfectly and in a relatively short period of the platform’s existence,” M. Michalauskas notes. According to him, while increasing the number of creators remains one of the main priorities, the same amount of focus is paid to the platform itself, improving its functions, the user experience, and – very soon – adapting the platform to new markets.