I love small businesses, and small business owners (technically “small & medium business owners”, or SMBs in the lingo).
Growing up, my dad was a serial entrepreneur. My mom was - and still is - a bookkeeper for small businesses. I had my first small business in high school, a tiny computer consulting business I created (I had business cards and everything!). In college, I became my school’s “t-shirt guy”.
I spent much of my career helping SMBs survive and thrive while at Intuit (makers of QuickBooks and Quicken), PayPal, Xero, and First Data.
I love serving small & medium business owners because they never have it easy. It’s hard work. I always understood that they needed help, like all of us do, but that most companies focused on selling to big companies and didn’t have time, energy, or focus for the smaller companies that in many ways needed their help even more. It made me proud to be someone who was helping the small business owner.
I say all this because, to my surprise, I’m now back serving SMBs. Just in a way I hadn’t expected.
When we started Starsona it was “the happy birthday app”. But somewhere along the way I realized something about the people who were selling videos on our platform.
We call them “stars” by the way. Whether they’re athletes, musicians, actors, influencers, business people, or even Elvis impersonators -- to us, anyone with fans or followers is a “star”. It’s just like John Lennon said on “Instant Karma” - “Who on Earth do you think are? A superstar? Well, right you are.”
What I realized was these stars sounded like SMBs when I talked to them.
This was a shock.
In my entire career serving small & medium businesses, we never talked about stars as a vertical. We would talk about restaurants, retailers, healthcare, wholesalers, construction, lawyers, etc. But we never talked about stars. There are reasons for this that maybe one day I’ll cover in a different post, but trust me that it made sense back then.
It doesn’t make sense now.
We have Patreon and Kickstarter to thank for this. They have enabled something new: for the first time stars can know, by name, who their best and most supportive fans are. In traditional parlance, they have customers! It’s no longer about the unseen masses, or a list of email addresses that they don’t know much about, but real people who directly give them real money. Patreon helped stars raise $500M last year, and Kickstarter is approaching that number. It’s astonishing, and amazing, and wonderful.
But as great as Patreon and Kickstarter are, there’s a gap between them. Patreon enables a star to build an ongoing subscription business around their fans who want to support them. Kickstarter enables a star to raise funds for a particular project. But there’s no way for a star to provide a one-time individualized, personal interaction to their fans in a way they can monetize. Starsona fills this gap, and completes the trio of tools a star now needs: Patreon for subscriptions, Kickstarter for projects, and Starsona for personalized interactions.
Starsona exists to help stars create joy and make a better living. We’re going to do that by providing everything they need to efficiently monetize individual fan interactions in a safe way.
So I’m back to serving small & medium businesses, and their owners.
I couldn’t be prouder.