The founders of Patreon rival Fanfix on why the value of Gen Z creators should not be underestimated or undervalued and why they love risk.
Aged in their early twenties, Harry Gestetner and his two co-founders did what a lot of tech entrepreneurs twice and three times their age fail to do. They sold their company for a multimillion sum.
A lot of the media coverage thus far of the trio has focused on their ages, which might seem a little cliched. But Fanfix, the company that Gestetner co-founded in 2021 with Cameron Dallas and Simon Pompan, most likely owes its success to the tender ages of its founders.
Fanfix might not have done so well had it been built by three Boomers, for example. In fact, Boomers might not have had the idea in the first place.
Fanfix was created by Gen Z with Gen Z in mind; it’s an online subscription platform for creators to monetise content, earning directly from followers.
Platforms for workers in the creative economy – or influencers – are not new. Patreon is much more established, but it isn’t targeting Gen Z creators.
In an interview with Forbes following Fanfix’s acquisition, Gestetner said that it was “a common misconception” that his generation is not interested in paying for content.
‘It is the future of work. We believe that in the next five years, being a creator will be just as viable and common a career path as being a lawyer or a banker’
– HARRY GESTETNER
He pointed out that by being shrewd about what people would pay for – think things like exclusive behind-the-scenes content – creators have been able to earn big figures and provide value to their loyal fans.
Helping young content creators
It’s no secret that the creator economy is dominated by young influencers, and Gestetner and his co-founders wanted to help them make money to turn creating content into a viable career.
One of the creators he wanted to help was his own cousin.
“My cousin blew up on TikTok and couldn’t monetise,” he told SiliconRepublic.com. “We were shocked that it was so difficult for creators to monetise, even though many of them had extremely passionate fans and deep communities.”
“We spoke to many creators who were working jobs that they hated or doing brand deals they hated to fund their passion: creating content.”
Gestetner and his co-founders soon realised “that the blocker for most of these creators was that they were underserved by brand deals and couldn’t make enough money”.
“We thought that creators should be able to monetise directly from their most loyal fans, and the Fanfix mission was born. We wanted to build a platform that helped creators monetise their passions.”
Writing on LinkedIn, trends and business strategist Michael McQueen said that the growing creator economy was “largely driven by Gen Zs, who are who are increasingly turning away from conventional career paths and towards options with greater independence”.
Gestetner said he believes the creator economy is still “vastly underestimated and undervalued”.
“It is the future of work,” he said. “We believe that in the next five years, being a creator will be just as viable and common a career path as being a lawyer or a banker.”
The creator economy is becoming more mainstream thanks to young people taking different approaches to careers. Fanfix currently has more than 15m users and is growing 100pc month-on-month, for example.
Gestetner, Dallas and Pompan grew it and negotiated its sale all while still in college. A year after they founded it, the trio sold Fanfix to cosmetics and beauty brand distributor SuperOrdinary for £65m.
Age might be just a number, but for Gestetner and co it was an advantage.
Entrepreneurs are born risk-takers
When SiliconRepublic.com asked him whether he thought entrepreneurs are born or made, Gestetner said “I think that entrepreneurs are born for the most part. One has to be fairly crazy to become an entrepreneur: you take on an extreme amount of risk and stress for a less than 1pc chance of success, often earning no money until one potential payday at the end which is statistically unlikely to ever come.”
Gestetner took a risk setting up Fanfix, but regardless of whether it did well or not, he might have done it anyway. For him, the risk was the reward.
“For me, and many other entrepreneurs I’ve spoken to, we’re born with an itch that is only satisfied when building something,” he explained.
“The thrill of building and taking something from an idea in my head to a product that impacts millions of people’s lives absolutely outweighs the high risk of failure. As an entrepreneur, your success is directly correlated with the impact you have, which is so exciting to me.”
As for what’s next for Fanfix, Pompan said it is adding new engagement tools, such as an enhanced paid messaging platform, multi-functional live stream capabilities and community chat tools.
Like Gestetner, Pompan is also a believer in taking risks. “I would advise young founders to take risks, fail fast, and iterate quickly. It is necessary to adapt as a founder and continue to learn from your mistakes. Especially as a first time founder, it’s important to maintain confidence in yourself and conviction in your start-up through hardship.”
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