Link-in-bio startup Koji recently raised $16 million in venture capital:
The company offers hundreds of apps to help founders customize and monetize content. With over 50,000 users, Koji aims to become the app store of the creator economy amid increased competition.
Having trouble generating investor interest? These 3 hacks can help. Spoiler alert: Photos and one-liners go a long way.
Founder Kyle Gawley's company, Gravity, hit over $120,000 in revenue. Here's how a near-death experience transformed his indie hacking journey.
Want to share something with nearly 85,000 indie hackers? Submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter. —Channing
📱 Koji's New App Store
from the Indie Economy newsletter by Bobby Burch
Koji, the link-in-bio startup, offers hundreds of apps that enable creators to customize and monetize their content. Within the next few years, the company hopes to become the app store of the creator economy. For founders, this means new opportunities to build on the platform.
The background: Based in San Diego, Koji offers a link-in-bio service that integrates with hundreds of different apps created by Koji and its community of independent developers. The apps, ranging from Ask Me Anything forums and quizzes to scheduling tools and crowdfunding, provide TikTok, Instagram, and Twitch creators with tools to engage and monetize their fans.
Traction: Currently, 50K creators already use Koji’s service, up from about 17K in June. Founded in 2016, the company is led by former Google executive Dmitry Shapiro. Koji has raised about $16M in venture capital through its parent company, GoMeta. According to Dmitry, the company wants to help creators take things to the next level:
We believe the next wave of the creator economy will be driven by creators themselves launching apps and becoming product owners.
Generating revenue: The company’s link-in-bio service and apps are free, but Koji takes a 5-15% cut from purchases made by creators' fans. The company hit $5M ARR in 2020.
Leadership clout: Koji recently hired a new COO; Annie Morita is a former Apple executive who led App Store operations and oversaw Apple Media Products in China. Annie brings heaps of operational experience to Koji, as she helped cultivate one of the most world’s largest and most lucrative app stores. She is no stranger to industry disruption:
The same way the introduction of the iPhone and the App Store disrupted incumbents like Nokia and Blackberry, and radically transformed what we do with the device in our pocket, Koji is transforming the entire creator economy to be a more integrated and equitable environment for creators and consumers.
The sheer scale of Koji's vision and velocity of execution is extremely unique, and I am excited to lead the next phases of evolution.
Dare Me: Popular creators have already launched apps on Koji, including TikTok content firm Breezy House. The Breezy Boys have amassed over 11M TikTok followers, and launched Dare Me, an app that allows creators to monetize dares and challenges given to them by their followers.
Competition: Koji’s top competitor is Linktree, a tool that allows users to share multiple links on their social media channels. Linktree has over 2.8M users, and recently raised $45M in venture capital. In an attempt to attract more creators, the company also partnered with PayPal to enable payments. Linktree dominates the link-in-bio space with an 88% market share.
Others lurk: While Linktree enjoys market dominance, the link-in-bio market is becoming more competitive. In addition to Koji, Feedlink by EmbedSocial has become a popular alternative, as well as Snipfeed, which raised $5.5M in August. Beacons is another viable contender, and recently raised $6M.
What do you think of Koji's creator economy app store? Share your thoughts below.
Discuss this story, or subscribe to Indie Economy for more.
📰 In the News
from the Volv newsletter by Priyanka Vazirani
📵 TikTok's ByteDance limits time for kids under 14 on its app in China.
🌳 The CDC and FDA have issued warnings about these cannabis products.
😷 This COVID-19 calculator estimates how likely you are to get the illness.
🎬 Russia has the greenlight to shoot the first feature film in space.
👕 This t-shirt can charge your phone.
Check out Volv for more 9-second news digests.
💡 Startup Ideas on Kernal
from Startup Ideas on Kernal by Joel Hansen
Having trouble generating investor interest? These hacks can help!
Here are three quick, easy hacks that you can implement right away to help generate investor interest:
Perfect your one-liner and picture: I know that many of you hate the little details, but that's what makes Kernal ideas pop. Check in on your best startup. Refine the title, bio, and photo. Clean it up, and make it something people would want to invest in. Example: Mike has a catchy breakdown for his virtual tool idea.
Rally up some local interest: If you've got industry contacts, angel investors, or a rich uncle, loop them into your startup idea. Ask if they'd be interested in investing in the idea if you decided to build it. The more small wins you can pick up, the more traction your idea will get across the platform. Example: Kevin Moran won over a software engineer to invest in his idea.
Share on social: You've heard us dish out this advice before, but few of you are running with it. Start dropping your startup ideas in newsletters and Twitter posts. Word will spread, people will get curious, and investors will flock. Patrick hit it home with this startup idea:
This will help forge more relationships to get you from startup ideation to pre-seed runway, and eventually IPO touchdown. Give it a shot!
Featured startup ideas
Here are this week's top ideas!
If you're interested in helping build any of these ideas, click the link here and type the title into the Kernal search bar.
Want to test out Kernal, or share a startup idea to get featured in next week’s issue? Sign up here or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discuss this story, or subscribe to Startup Ideas on Kernal for more ideas.
🛠 Building in Public: The Story of Today
by Ivan Romanovich
Life doesn't always follow a routine. Unusual events and experiments are a great opportunity to share the story of what unique thing happened today.
Discuss this story.
💰 Kyle Gawley's Gravity Hit Over $100K ARR
from the Listen Up! IH newsletter by Ayush Chaturvedi
Kyle Gawley launched Gravity, a SaaS boilerplate and starter kit that founders can use to quickly spin up SaaS apps based on Node.js and React. It helps founders and software companies save three months of development time in building their web apps.
Indie Hackers sat down with Kyle to talk about his near-death experience, life as a digital ex-pat, and Gravity's path to success. Read on for more!
Illness and recovery
Kyle started his first company back in 2013, and quickly learned that, when you're a venture-backed founder, you stop working on the product and start working with Excel sheets. His focus changed from trying to do the best for his customers to looking for ways to please his investors.
This meant that Kyle was often working unreasonable hours, taking on too much, and not having any fun working on the product. Additionally, he wasn't in perfect health.
Turns out that Kyle had an undiagnosed bacterial infection in his stomach, and the stress of startup life made it worse. Eventually, he was taken to the emergency room, where the infection was discovered. By then, it was so serious that it was life-threatening. This near-death experience was a wake-up call for him, and it made him question his life decisions:
I promised myself [that] if I got better, I’d go and do some travel, and try and find a better work-life balance.
After his recovery, Kyle spent a year traveling around Thailand, Vietnam, Bali, and Japan, eventually settling down in Chiang Mai.
Kyle launched Gravity on Indie Hackers in January 2019. It was a free SaaS boilerplate based on Node.js, with a $99 premium tier.
Today, the web version of Gravity is priced at $995; the company has tripled in revenue throughout the pandemic, and Kyle just launched its eighth version on Product Hunt.
The standard criticism against boilerplate products is that savvy software engineers would build them out themselves anyway. Critics claim that nobody would buy them because their ideal customer doesn't actually need them. But Kyle believes the contrary:
Smart people want to build as little as possible and then they want to buy as much as they can or outsource as much of it as possible...Gravity has about 15K lines of code to just do the most basic stuff.
Kyle's primary acquisition channels are:
- Indie Hackers (check out his AMA here!),
- Search engine optimization, and
Advice for indie hackers
- You don't need to sacrifice your wellbeing to build a profitable business. VC funding is not for everyone.
- Boilerplates are to developers what no-code tools are to non-developers: Valuable. Which platform can you build boilerplates for?
- Be a painkiller, not a vitamin: Build products that help people deal with boring chores, and you will always have buyers.
Check out the full episode on the Indie Hackers Podcast here.
Discuss this story, or subscribe to Listen Up! IH for more.
🐦 The Tweetmaster's Pick
by Tweetmaster Flex
I post the tweets indie hackers share the most. Here's today's pick:
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Special thanks to Jay Avery for editing this issue, to Nathalie Zwimpfer for the illustrations, and to Bobby Burch, Priyanka Vazirani, Joel Hansen, Ivan Romanovich, and Ayush Chaturvedi for contributing posts. —Channing