Saturday, June 25 2022

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

After signing up for the service, Beacons guides the user through a series of questions, many of which can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. For example, Beacons may ask the user if they want to accept donations or collect subscriber emails, if they make TikTok or YouTube videos, and what category they fall into, in terms of the content they he created.

This information is used to configure their Beacons landing page with the correct sections of content, which Beacons call “blocks”. At launch, Beacons offers a dozen of these configurable blocks, like email and SMS collection modules, video embed blocks for TikTok or YouTube creators, music blocks to embed a track or a 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 Myspace Top 8. This allows you to connect with your friends on Beacons, Instagram, Twitter or TikTok.

However, one area where Beacons differentiate themselves from other “link in bio” website builders is their set of “monetization” blocks. Today, it has four tools for creators who want to generate income from their online presence. One of them is similar to Cameo, in that it allows the creator to configure a menu of options to respond to fan requests for personalized content. For example, 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 a personalized response publicly or privately.

Other monetization blocks allow creators to accept donations or sell digital downloads, like eBooks or paid video content, for example.

Picture credits: Tags

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 there, they can add affiliate links to the products in question, allowing them to directly generate revenue when fans purchase the items they have featured.

This feature comes at just the right time. Today, TikTok is only beginning to formalize its projects around e-commerce. During a recent pitch to marketers, TikTok talked about plans to launch new online shopping tools that would allow brands to reach TikTok’s young audience more directly. TikTok has also partnered with Shopify on social commerce and experimented with live video shopping, including with a holiday event hosted by Walmart.

But TikTok creators have already driven shopping trends in categories like fashion, beauty, home decor, housewares, toys and more, to the point that “TikTok made me buy it” has become a common excuse for impulse purchases prompted by viral TikTok content. Enabling creators to now benefit more directly and financially from these trends is the next logical step.

Picture credits: Tags

The idea for Beacons comes from co-founders Neal Jean, Jesse Zhang, Greg Luppescu and David Zeng. Neal, Jesse and David met during the PhD program at Stanford, studying different areas of research, such as machine learning and AI. Greg, meanwhile, did his Masters at Stanford, then worked at Apple as part of the Apple Watch team.

Neal, Jesse and David had teamed up on Beacons and scoured the Y Combinator Summer 2019 batch, reiterating ideas and rotating the product multiple times. Some of those early concepts could eventually return, like a Shopify integration that would connect creators to brands selling on Shopify, for example.

However, the larger goal has always been to help 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 turned this mini-pivot into a more Linktree-like product, we thought about creating features that can help creators generate revenue – which I don’t think Linktree or any of the existing incumbents in space was doing. Even today, you can’t actually make money from Linktree,” he notes.

Linktree, of course, is just one of many “link in bio” websites on the market today, which means Beacons still face many 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 monetizes them through a premium plan ($10/month) that allows creators to use their own custom domain. It also makes money by taking a percentage of sales from requests and block sales, either 9% on the free plan or 5% on the paid plan. That revenue share doesn’t make a lot of money today — just “hundreds” of dollars — but the team thinks that will change as the startup grows and gains a large user base.

“Our strategy is to…continue to create more of these different types of revenue streams for creators,” says Neal. “And in doing so, I think the fraction of transactional revenue will become higher relative to subscription revenue than it is today.”

Since launching in private beta last September, Beacons has had 90,000 signups and now has more than 20,000 people considered active users of the product – most of which arrived in the last two months when the service started rolling out. some of its new 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 has raised a small post-YC angel round of around $600,000, but is looking to fundraise in the future.

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