Komi founder: ‘NFTs 2.0’ can boost creator economy | Fi5

Komi founder and CEO

Lewis Crosbie is the co-founder and CEO of Komi, a software platform and “one-stop-shop” for creators.

The startup has developed a platform that aims to bring features found on Shopify, Patreon, and Linktree into one place to help creators engage with their fans around the world.

Celebrities on the platform include Lizzo, Idris Elba, Addison Rae, Matthew McConaughey, Elton John and Usher.

Last month, the London-based startup raised $5m (£4.1m) in a seed funding round led by Contour Venture Partners.

Komi was founded in 2019 and has an additional office in California.

In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Crosbie explains how to avoid an early-stage hiring trap, why he admires the CEO of Patreon and why he’s still bullish on NFTs despite the crypto downturn.

1. Which company’s growth story are you most impressed with?

Lewis Crosbie: Alo (formerly Alo Yoga) is a brand that I admire greatly. From starting out as on-demand, online yoga classes, the company has built a fantastic consumer business, complementing its expanded content business with commerce. The brand has done a phenomenal job of understanding its user base and providing a high-quality, premium product experience.

Like Gymshark, creators are now queuing up to associate and promote the brand to their engaged audience.

2. What’s the best way to promote diversity in the workplace?

LC: Diversity is incredibly important to Komi. The creators we work with come from all nationalities, ethnicities and backgrounds and having that diversity represented on the team is crucial to helping maintain a relevant and engaging brand. At the early stages of a company, it can be difficult to organically ensure diversity as early hires often come from your network of friends, which makes it a higher likelihood that diversity will be lower. It is therefore crucial to be intentional about diversity early on when growing a business.

3. Who’s a leader you admire in your industry?

LC: Jack Conte at Patreon has done a brilliant job building their product. He and his team are making it possible for thousands of creators to earn a living by providing an all-in-one membership platform to directly monetise their top-tier fans. Alongside solving a problem he faced himself, Jack was ahead of the curve in terms of identifying the needs and desires of creators and building a solution for them, recognising the vast opportunity the creator economy represents – well before most.

4. What’s a fact about yourself that people might find surprising?

LC: Growing up all I wanted to be was a professional rugby player and represent Scotland. Due more to persistence, hard work and luck (rather than skill) I ended up playing for Scotland U18 and U19 before the realisation set in that I would never make it pro, so had to pull the plug, go to university and move into M&A!

5. Excluding your sector, which nascent technology holds the most promise?

LC: NFTs 1.0 exploded then came crashing down, but conceptually I believe NFTs 2.0 can have a meaningful and lasting impact on the creator economy. Creators are seeking more direct access and reward mechanisms for their audience, whilst audiences are seeking greater status, access and interaction from creators.

When applied correctly, NFTs can help achieve these goals for both parties. Due to the recent halt in consumer adoption (from falling prices) and fear from creators (not wanting to look stupid), we are probably a year or two away from round two but if the format can be nailed and the consumer experience becomes smoother it should yield exciting results. Komi offers a strong bridge between web2 to web3 for fans and I’m excited about the role that Komi can play in fast-track adoption by creators and fans.

Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative tech startups, scaleups and unicorns – is published every Friday.

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