Review Fix Exclusive: Inside Starsona Version 2
Review Fix chats with Starsona’s Matt Martin, Founder and Head of Operations and Peter Karpas, Founder and CEO to find out wha makes the platform a special one.
By Patrick Hickey Jr, Review Fix
Founded in 2017, Starsona is a digital platform that enables Stars – anyone who has fans or followers – to have their own storefront for personalized content & goods, enabling them to connect with fans, create joy, and make money safely and easily. Experiences include video shoutouts, 1:1 interactions, personalized merch, and “Fun Stuff” like cooking tutorials or dance challenges. Stars are also able to build a direct relationship with the fans who most support them. Starsona has nearly 1500 Stars including Perez Hilton, Andy Dick, T-Boz, Tori Spelling, Rick Pitino, Kawhi Leonard, and Terrell Owens. For more information, please visit https://starsona.com. Connect with Starsona: @getstarsona on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter
Review Fix: How was this platform born?
Matt Martin, Founder and Head of Operations: The initial concept started with our cofounder, Randy Kessler, who wanted to create what he then called “the happy birthday app.” Many of Randy’s clients have some level of fame, and he witnessed an ongoing pattern when he was out in public with them: fans would constantly run up and ask them to record a video wishing their relative or friend a Happy Birthday. He thought any fan should be able to get something like a selfie video, not just those lucky enough to happen to cross paths with a star.
Peter Karpas, Founder and CEO: He also thought it might be a good way for his clients to make some money, and that they would be more willing to do them if they could get paid for their time.
Matt: Starsona was finally born in 2017 when Randy shared the idea with myself, Peter, and our other cofounder Ren Menon. Coming out of that meeting, the three of us were really excited about Randy’s proposal. And after researching how big this market opportunity could really be and then testing much of 2018, we launched v1 in mid-2019.
Review Fix: How is it different from its competitors?
Peter: There are a bunch of shoutout companies, but we’re quite different in how we serve both fans and stars. Fans can request many different kinds of experiences – from social interaction to personalized merch – so there’s more to choose from in the stars’ storefront. For stars, they get to stock their own storefront with experiences that support their brand. We also give them access to fan data, unlike other platforms who keep it for themselves, so they can use it for additional marketing. And finally, we take lower fees so they make more money!
Review Fix: What did you learn from version 1?
Matt: As mentioned, our initial version was simply the “happy birthday app” that enabled fans to book a personalized video shoutout from a star for any type of occasion. It became evident with star insight that they wanted to offer things beyond just shoutouts, as those barely scratched the surface of fan engagement. We basically wanted to supercharge that experience.
Peter: For me, we learned we were witnessing the birth of an entirely new category of products that a star could sell and that fans wanted to buy: personalized interactions. How cool is that! Shoutouts were just the start. What’s really interesting to me is that a few years ago, the only thing stars could sell directly to a fan was generic merch. Now it’s completely different – they can sell personalized interactions through Starsona.
Review Fix: What makes version 2 even better?
Matt: V2 is a massive upgrade. With the launch, we enable the star to have a complete storefront for personalized content and goods.
They can offer any personalized experience they want:- shoutouts, social media interactions, “fun stuff,” direct messages, video and phone calls, Q&A, personalized and one-of-a-kind merch, etc. They can design the page the way they want for their brand, and retain fan data for their marketing and audience building.
Peter: And don’t forget that on top of all of that, we lowered our prices! The storefront is free, and we dropped our fee for a sale from 25% to 18% — and only 10% on tips.
Review Fix: How has COVID-19 affected your service?
Matt: With COVID-19, all of us have seen a surge of people adapting to new paradigms of connecting with one another. We’re proud that Starsona has been a great way for fans to support and connect with stars who bring them joy every day.
Peter: We know the way many of our stars make their living is massively impacted by COVID-19; music artists can’t make money off live music, actors can’t do signings at cons, retired athletes have no meet & greets or autographing sessions, etc. This means they need to find other ways to make money – and Starsona is an incredibly fan-friendly, brand building, positive way for them to do that.
Review Fix: What are your goals for it moving forward?
Peter: Our mission is to enable every person who has fans or followers to connect with fans, create joy, and make money. Our goal is to do that for more and more people, all over the world.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?