Roles & Responsibilities
- Co-founder, creative lead
- UX / UI Design
- Front-end developer
- QA testing
- Marketing design support
- Wearer of all hats
The concept was simple...
Unfortunately, we lacked the conviction to believe that users were willing to pay only for the content. We assumed that because users were used to getting content for free, the micro donation had to be paired with a donation to charity, thus diluting the value to the publishers and making the model more confusing for users.
We had some modest successes. We applied to Techstars Chicago and were nearly selected after many meetings with Troy Henikoff and Mark Achler. We conducted a very successful crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo that resulted in 589 unique accounts with more than $18,000 in account funding. We raised a small seed investment. We were generating millions of button impressions per week.
In the end, we created a product that, though well-intentioned, didn’t resonate with enough consumers to be sustainable. Today, there is plenty of validation that our core idea (compensating creators for their work) is valid. For example, Patreon is thriving and YouTube is testing allowing premium subscribers to tip content creators. However, we think our model (mixing micro-donations with charitable giving) proved to be too complicated, when supporting content creators was on its own a worthy enough cause. By the time we realized this, it was too late to pivot.
I wouldn’t trade the two years I worked on CentUp. In the process, I learned a lot about what it means to be an entrepreneur: wearing many hats, financial modeling, taking calculated risks, finding product-market fit, LTV and CAC, testing (testing, and testing), pivoting at the right time. I also learned more about myself than I did in all prior jobs combined.