The relative stillness of the pandemic left people withdrawing from their patterns of daily life. Many used this time, to work on their personal development to replace their lack of physical contact with others. In fact, the pandemic fueled the growth of businesses like Masterclass by attracting a growing segment of digital adopters with time on their hands to libraries of personal development content from today’s biggest domain experts, thought leaders, celebrities, and athletes. Traditionally creators in this space are largely dependent on video content on these platforms and on social media networks; both mediums require creators to relinquish control. Authoritive is a platform for creators to build and distribute interactive content by leveraging messaging apps that the audience is already using like SMS or WhatsApp. By using messaging, the content can be two-way, unlike video, and more engaging while also being cost-effective to produce at scale. The company launched two years ago and until now has been dependent on revenue to finance its operation. With this funding round, Authoritive plans to increase headcount, offer more creator tools, and build out sales and marketing.
AlleyWatch caught up with Authoritive Co-CEO Christy Fletcher to learn more about the inspiration for the business, the company’s strategic plans, recent round of funding, and much, much more…
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised a seed round of $5M. Our lead investor is Owl Ventures, but the round included GMG Ventures, and some angels: Eric Ries, James Beshara, Seraph Group, and Megan O’Connor.
Tell us about the product or service that Authoritive offers.
Authoritive creates interactive courses and coaching tools for creators, delivered by messaging to individuals over SMS and WhatsApp, as well as to group messaging platforms like Slack, MS Teams.
What inspired the start of Authoritive?
Creators and experts have relied on social media and content platforms, in order to grow their audience and support themselves financially. This leaves them at the mercy of social media algorithms or working endlessly to write another blog post, record another podcast episode in order to try and maintain their engagement and revenue. It’s exhausting for them and often there is not enough ROI. Having spent over twenty years working with writers and other creators developing sustainable businesses around their work, we know their pain points and we know what audiences want from them. So, we’ve started Authoritive to help support creators by designing highly engaging products that drives recurring revenues while allowing them to truly own their audience.
How is Authoritive different?
We offer creators and others experts the ability to take advantage of messaging as a way to deliver high-quality, branded instruction, and unlike most course platforms, our products are offered and delivered directly to their audience. By using push technology, we can make sure users will see and interact with content, thereby ensuring better learning outcomes. We also don’t interfere in the creators’ engagement with their audience. We’re the technology partner that exists behind the scenes, helping along the way but not competing for their audience.
What market does Authoritive target and how big is it?
We create learning products across a wide spectrum of content– food, wellness, betterment, business, personal finance, and faith spaces. As long as a creator has some degree of expertise and content to impart, we can partner with them to develop interactive and scalable products. The creator economy is estimated to be nearly 50 million people and a substantive portion of that is looking to inform, educate, and monetize their particular expertise.
We also work directly with consulting firms and other B2B customers who sell their products to large organizations.
What’s your business model?
Our model is based on a simple partnership approach: we take on the mantle of creating, building, and maintaining the products in exchange, and supporting creators’ marketing and sales efforts, for a 50/50 split of revenues.
What are your post-COVID office plans?
We are a fully remote company and for now, plan to remain that way. We have a widely distributed staff so we work hard to make sure that we have a strong culture, shared vision and stay closely connected.
What was the funding process like?
The funding process was relatively fast, and we met with some extraordinarily smart and thoughtful people. They asked sharp questions that drove a lot of discussion among the three founders around our vision for the future so it was successful both for raising money but also helping us to really align. We had the luxury of receiving more than one term sheet, so we were able to choose the best deal and the right partners.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
The biggest challenge was running the actual business while spending so much time fundraising.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Authoritive is not a new company. We’ve been building the model since 2019 and have proven over the past few years, that we offer a unique and advantageous solution to creators, have developed a phenomenal piece of technology, and can scale quickly. The company was able to operate on its own revenues from day one. The money we’ve raised will help us grow and scale quickly.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Our near-term growth projections are aggressive and we aim to onboard dozens of new creators in the coming months. Growth is our number one priority right now and with new capital, we can rapidly expand both the numbers of creators we’re bringing on to the platform and our technological capabilities.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Believe in your vision and your product and work hard to find product-market fit. Capital is the injection that will help you scale your idea. So, keep plugging away on the idea until you find the fit, then use fundraising as an accelerant.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We aim to be the key resource for creator and expert products, enabling them to scale along with us. We believe we can open the door to a wider network of creators and provide access to a more robust and interactive set of messaging tools. In the long run, we aim to make our approach open to all creators with self-service tools and additional monetization opportunities.
What’s your favorite outdoor dining restaurant in NYC?
Claudette on Lower Fifth Ave.