There are many talented people, such as chefs and musicians, in Southeast Asia who can earn money online from their work, says TipTip founder Albert Lucius. But many of them don’t have the influence of social media to attract advertisers. TipTip wants to help them build a following in their communities using an offline/online strategy, and make money selling content instead of relying on advertising algorithms. The Indonesia-based startup announced today that it has raised $13 million in Series A funding in just eight months after the $10 million Series A in March.
The final round was led by East Ventures, with participation from returning investors Vertex, SMDV and BIG Ventures.
TipTip, founded in October 2021 by Albert Lucius, whose previous startup Kudo was acquired by Grab in 2017. It serves as a marketplace for creators to connect with fans and monetize content such as videos and documents by selling them to their followers or hosting live video sessions.
The platform launched in July and says revenue has grown 20x since October, with creators earning more than $200 on average within 30 days of being active on TipTip.
TipTip currently has 2,500 content creators and over 30,000 users. The goal is to recruit more than 30,000 creators and 300,000 users by early next year. It is currently focused on Indonesia, with a presence in 40 cities.
The people TipTip was created for, such as local chefs, musicians, and painters, still have few followers and need to build their audience. To enable them to scale and monetize, TipTip uses a hyper-local strategy in Indonesian cities and towns, enabling them to host events and activities tailored to their communities.
Lucius says TipTip’s team saw many people get used to the idea of making virtual money after COVID hit, as interest in consuming digital content also increased. Based on research from Research and Markets, Digital Journal and Statista, they found that the creator economy in Southeast Asia has an estimated CAGR of around 10% to 30%.
But Lucius said many Southeast Asian creators can’t monetize tools on social media platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Patreon, which are better suited to top creators who already have a lot of followers and views and can attract advertisers.
Lucius says TipTip differentiates itself from social media platforms with an end-to-end solution for creators, including digital content management and distribution, live streaming services, one-on-one interactions, and direct tips. The platform also assists creators with administrative issues such as audience management, know your customer (KYC), payment systems, and scheduling.
“There are many players already established as market leaders in these respective areas. We consider them necessary and complementary to our services. In fact, we rely on our creators/promoters to continue using third-party platforms to engage their audiences, post updates, advertise their free offerings there, and provide links to TipTip to monetize their premium content,” said Lucius.
Instead of ads, TipTip offers direct monetization channels through tips and direct purchases, taking a cut from every sale made on its platform.
An example of the content shared on TipTip is edutainment in categories such as music. Musicians share tips on the platform to compose better songs, sometimes accompanied by a live performance. Another example is creators creating multi-segment courses on how to become better public speakers, including a live workshop.
TipTip also has a network of promoters to help creators sell their content. Lucius says promoters act as affiliates or resellers, often to their own small communities, and receive a commission for each sale. “The analogy is like how Uber Eats helps a restaurant sell more food,” Lucius said. “In our case, promoters help creators sell their digital content.”
To create a pipeline of creators, TipTip uses awareness programs by partnering with the best creators, leveraging “above the line” marketing campaigns, and executing a hyper-local strategy to recruit key opinion leaders (KOL) or top influencers found in every community.
Part of TipTip’s funding round will be used to recruit more creators, promoters and supporters. It will also create more product offerings such as podcasts, brand deals and personalized requests to give creators more potential revenue channels, and expand its offline/online presence to 250 cities and towns across Indonesia by mid-next year.
In a statement on the funding, Willson Cuaca, co-founder and managing partner of East Ventures, said: “We strongly believe in Albert’s leadership at TipTip. His previous experience building and running Kudo before being acquired by Grab in 2017 remains crucial in navigating the turbulent economy as we head into 2023. We expect TipTip to continue its exponential growth trajectory based on its hyper-local strategy that adapts very well to changing maker and customer behavior in the post-COVID era.”