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We talk a lot about the creator economy here on Decoder — the booming business of individuals using social platforms to build audiences and then finding ways to monetize those audiences, mostly through subscriptions or advertising. Welcome to Decoder. Right now, that means if a brand reaches out to you about a sponsored post on any social media platform, you can look them up on our website and see how much they paid other creators for similar types of sponsored posts.

The purpose of your site is to create or expose the rate card for influencer marketing, right? Really, the purpose I want to f you to help creators evaluate the opportunity cost of partnering with a particular brand. Because you can always partner with a different brand, or another, better option is always to invest in your own I want to f you brand.

Are they going to take forever to pay me? Is it going to be a good experience? Are they going to make me redo it a hundred times before it happens? So, tell me about the name Fuck You Pay Me. You have been a creator yourself. Give me a sense of how you ended up founding the app, and tell us about your co-founder as well. I actually created the first PowerPoint for it three years ago when I was in grad school. I started off as a freelance model, and had the same problems as creators.

Wait, hold on. Sorry, you said model. Not the model for the company was freelance. You were a freelance model? Actually inI won the CastMeMarc Instagram contest where I was one of 11 people chosen out of overpeople to be the face of Marc by Marc Jacobs, and I was on billboards all over the world, I was in magazines, I was on shopping bags. It was crazy. Yes, and to this day, that was my highest-paid gig. On paper I looked super successful. I was in New York magazine. The list goes on and on and on. New York Magazine was acquired by Vox Media in Subscribe here!

We talk about this all the time. I do think there is a spot for it, but right now, most of our users and customers need cash. Your first MVP [minimum viable product], I was just doing some reading before you came on the show, your first version of this, you just built using a bunch of consumer SaaS products like Airtable.

How did that go, and then how did you end up with a co-founder? At the beginning of the pandemic, I lost my job in marketing, and I lost all my money, my relationship, and my house within the six months after I lost my job. I hacked together the first version using Typeform and Airtable. The Typeform survey actually took about 40 minutes to fill out, which is crazy.

Yeah, and I used my marketing skills to build out the brandand through that, we got natural user growth, natural press, and I hacked my way into an actual hacker fellowship for engineers because I was the only non-engineer they let in. At that hacker fellowship I met my co-founder, Isha Mehra. She used to work at Facebook as a data scientist, but she quit because she wanted to do something more to help people to use data for good.

Basically, she quit around the time the election was happening, and she built software to help people request mail-in ballots for the election.

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She raised money for it, she hired 40 people. So together in Taiwan — this fellowship was also in Taiwan — we rebuilt the whole website. It still works similarly to how it worked before: you up, you tell us who you are so we can make sure you are who you say you are and verify your review, and you have to leave a review. So the rule is you have to contribute to be a part of the community, and then after that, we approve you and you can see what everyone else has to say about different brands. Right now, with minimal marketing, we get about 40 people a day who try to up, and it varies how many we approve.

That seems like a lot. How long does it take you to review one person? How long does that take you? How do you expect that to scale? Will adding people help? Step one is finding good people who can help us scale. Isha and I have a lot of conversations about, is this a product problem or a marketing problem?

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Well, I asked about scale because it le me into the exciting news that I want to talk about. You just raised your first pre-seed round of funding. Yes, we did. We can hire people and build out our product. So, you got your first little bit of pre-seed money. What are you going to spend it on? And I firmly believe that marketing is integrated into the best type of products out there. So we have a lot of discussions about the right type of people to build this out and how to integrate the two functions.

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I learned a lot through my experience in equity research, talking to CEOs and picking stocks, and especially within the consumer space on how viewing different parts of the organization separately kind of creates conflict and not synergies. Does that make sense? I just want to understand that a little bit. Why do you think your user acquisition still happens on the platforms themselves? Well, the platforms, they change every quarter. No two brand deals are the same. We really centered our product around brand deals because a lot of these deals occur across multiple platforms.

If they wanted an Instagram post, they could just take out an ad. If they wanted a TikTok video, I want to f you could take out an ad. So really this is about integrating all those nuances and making it make sense to our users. So right now our website is just a basic review site.

So just real quick, so people have an understanding. It really depends. Or you can go through a PR company, or you can go through one of these third-party platforms that connects brands to influencers. So far, people who have managers always have the best outcome for themselves. Because they know how to talk s, how to talk marketing-speak, and how to increase your rates. So I just had my brother do it.

When does that start happening for people? Does that only happen for the biggest folks or do the mid-tier influencers get those opportunities as well? You tell me. Is that reserved for that category, or is there a of followers or reach or influence you can have? Brand deals are inherently unstable. A lot of the time these are one-off gigs. So that plays into it.

You can be a lot pickier with brands. I want to f you right now we have a lot of brand deals, at least from our manager portal. The first version of the site I created, I just had myself in mind. I manage and negotiate my own brand deals. But now we have a manager portal. So managers can up, the influencers up they work with, and leave reviews and search reviews and all that.

But we have a lot of people who are traditional celebrities, like a year-old Food Network star. That would be cool. Everyone is different. People just want information to make better decisions about themselves or their clients because absolutely, once you get to a certain scale, like what you were talking about at the macro-influencer level, it is better for you to outsource that and have someone managing deals for you.

One of the things we always talk about with the platforms is how their content policies affect what gets made. So YouTube, I think, is most famous for changing their policies. And then everyone moved on to something else. Do you see that same kind of influence from the money side where brands want different kinds of integrations, different kinds of things that shape what gets made? And for the most part, those types of deals are the ones that get the negative reviews. Actually, on that note, only 11 percent of our reviews are negative; 52 percent are positive.

The rest are neutral. But creative freedom is absolutely something that le to a positive review because at the end of the day, it goes back to what I said earlier. Why not? They pay late. They want more than what you could get if you just did a campaign with Banana Republic or whatever, some more traditional influencer marketing agency.

Yeah, absolutely. Right now a big reason people come to our website is to just check on brands. But hopefully how our existing users will use it in the future is: They get approached by a brand. And you can filter by platform, by the brand industry, the country — that makes a big difference. Also, the niche of the influencer. You have been a creator yourself and we talk to creators on the show all the time, but it occurred to me that you only have so many hours in a day.

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And you have to invest those hours in the day towards whatever you think is going to get you the most value. But some of it is spent makingcontent for other people. How much does it have to be worth for you to take a deal versus invest in your own growth on your organically?

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Because that seems like the central tension here. So you said you were an Excel whiz before. And as various s about my social s change and grow, you can write an Excel formula that spits out a dollar amount for what you should charge. No, no, no.

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