Creator Kit Episode 08: Ampersand's Bobby Thakkar on the New Internet

Creator Kit
Creator Kit
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Cover Image for Creator Kit Episode 08: Ampersand's Bobby Thakkar on the New Internet

In this week's episode, we talk with the co-founder of Ampersand about building a product studio for creators.

Each episode of Creator Kit is a deep dive on a particular tool or service that can help you take your creator business to the next level. Creator Kit is presented by HiBeam: we solve comment and DM overload for creators; follow HiBeam on Twitter and subscribe on YouTube for more great content.

This Episode of Creator Kit is also available in video form on YouTube. You can also subscribe on iTunes, stream on Spotify, or plug our RSS feed in your player of choice.

Bobby is the co-founder of Ampersand, a venture-backed product studio that builds for and with creators.

On today's show we talk about why not all creators have the same product needs, why audience is an undervalued asset, and what the future of the New Internet has in store.

Here are some of our favorite takeaways from the conversation:

1. Creators don't need one-size-fits-all tools

Bobby argues that the term "Creator Economy" gives a false sense that creators are a single customer archetype - but that the truth is more complex.

"It is very clear to us that there is a lot of small problems for these segments. The Creator Economy, a lot of companies target the Creator Economy, but the Creator Economy is very large. We are including Substack writers, Twitch streamers, and these communities don't have the same problems, nor do they need the same tooling. So, our inherent thought process was, there's not a big enough company here where, like, we could solve one micro-problem that could be a billion-dollar business. We were like, "Let's just take every small problem. If we can justify, like, 10K or 50K of monthly revenue in this problem, let's go, let's go tackle it."

2. Audience is the new oil

For creators that have amassed an interested audience, that audience can yield tons of opportunities; but (in keeping with the Rent vs. Owned Audience theory) platforms can become a limiting gatekeeper.

The thing is, when you have an audience you have a lot of interesting people in your audience. One fan could lead to the next 10 brand deals you have. One fan could lead to setting you up with the venue of your next party. And all of these things are super, super important... and you miss one fan it's a big deal and most of these platforms don't let you access 90% of your fans unless you pay for it.

3. Web3 is the "New Internet"

The interoperability of the Web3 future bodes well for creators - just as the openness of certain Web1 standards (podcasting) has historically created opportunity.

For those that don't know, Web3 encompasses things like blockchain and cryptocurrency. I think Web3 is the bigger more cultural word around that. We say "New Internet". The cool thing about that [for creators and builders] is your data's open. You click a button, you get access to all the data. You don't have to spend hours integrating stuff. A lot of people actually compare Web3 rails to the RSS feed that make podcasts happen. Every podcast app has every podcast. You don't have to integrate into every podcast; it's just instant.

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Jesse Clemmens: Bobby, welcome to Creator Kit.

Bobby Thakkar: Thanks for having me. I'm excited.

Jesse Clemmens: It's really great to have you on the show. I'm excited about our conversation today. I think we're gonna be able to pack a lot in, uh, given, uh, the breadth and, uh, depth of the products you're working on in Ampersand. I was really excited and interested to hear from sort of a, a creator perspective, what the studio model is all about. So, maybe we can start with just a quick intro to Ampersand. Give us the 60 seconds, then I'd love to turn to you, hear a little bit about your background and why you're so interested in the Creator space, and we can go from there.

Bobby Thakkar: For sure. No, I appreciate that. Ampersand is an interesting idea. I think, like, when I first launched it, or when we first pitched it to investors and we're talking about it, it's like, it's a studio. We build products. We don't know what those products are yet, but we're gonna solve problems for this segment, which is a creators, freelancer, future of work economy, you could say. We really thought the future of work, like, everyone is going to be... Or, like, not everyone, but the vast majority of people are going to start owning parts of their lives, owning parts of their income. That might be a side Etsy store, that might be a podcast, that might be a YouTube channel, streaming on Twitch. It could be a whole slew of things.

It is very clear to us that, like, there is a lot of small problems for these segments. The Creator Economy, a lot of companies target the Creator Economy, but the Creator Economy is very large. We are including Substack writers, to Twitch streamers, and, like, these communities don't have the same problems, nor do they need the same tooling. So, our inherent thought process was, there's not a big enough company here where, like, we could solve one micro pro- problem that could be a billion-dollar business. We were like, "Let's just take every small problem. If we can justify, like, 10K or 50K of monthly revenue in this problem, let's go, let's go tackle it." And, like, "Let's explore it," and, "Let's do it very lean so that we can see what, what comes out of it."

And then, we're just stack on these tools with each other, and we create this suite. We always, like, looked up to Adobe, this, like, product suite, where everyone pays one subscription... it's a very affordable subscription for what the tooling is, and you get everything in it. And so, as a creator you can choose what you wanna use. That could be Adobe XD, Illustrator, Photoshop. Whatever you as a creator want, you just pick from the bundle. And, I mean, the other tools you have access to if you ever need them, but for the most time you get one really great, affordable deal across a ton of products.

And that's actually what we ended up striving for, but we launched as a product studio, and for those that don't know, product studio, usually a model like that is take a ton of creative, amazing people together, go spin out a ton of products, see what works. When one works, you just focus on it 100% and that company turns into that. Uber came out of a venture studios/product studio setup; Bungalow, a ton of other products all came out of venture studios and product studios. Our focus as a company was creator space, independent workers, [inaudible 00:04:16]. I mean, we just, we called ourselves Ampersand because we were like, collection of multiple brands. So we were this brand, and this brand, and this brand. Um, and that's kind of how that all started.

But yeah, that's, I guess, like, how Ampersand started. I mean, where it's going is completely different, but we're excited for where it's going, and we'll talk about that later.

Jesse Clemmens: Awesome. I guess more to come in keeping with, uh, the name, as well, so that works really well and makes a lot of sense. And so, one quick, clarifying questions for the audience that... You know, for the folks in the audience that may not be familiar with different startup models, using two examples that people might be familiar with: on the one hand, you often have independent startups. These are teams that get together to solve usually one problem and one product. They raise money, they bring it to market, and try to, you know, make it succeed.

On the other hand, another common model is an incubator, which I think a lot of people may have heard of in the startup space, which is usually a venture, uh, funded group that oversees a bunch of different teams working on a bunch of different products, and the ones that work kind of spit out, spin out and live on their own, and somewhere in between you have this product studio model, where it's actually the same team working on a bunch of different products, but for the same creator constituency, which I imagine leads to some, some better, like, consistency, and some of the effect of products, like, working well together... or, or, or am I wrong in that?

Bobby Thakkar: No, 100%. I think, like, for our motto, where we wanted the suite, like, it makes more sense: like, the same team, working on the same stack, working on the same suite of products. The interesting thing is, like, I'd like that example... like, the famous incubator... not famous, but the incubator that most, I guess, consumers know about is the Erlich Bachman House in Silicon Valley. I mean, there's a lot more famous incubators out there in the community, but what I'll say is, there's a difference.

Like, there, there's one route... there's the one-route startup where it's like, "We have this idea." I would say, like, from all the successful ones, the ones I've talked to, more than half... maybe closer to 80%.. they pivot multiple times. What the product studio model lets us do, it makes it a lot easier to pivot, because we could just open up to a new idea, new opportunity, and that is ingrained in the culture and structure of the company instead of it being a very hard thing to do, as in, like, "Oh, you have all the sunk cost. Let's drop it, move on to our new product with the new idea, new product market."

But, I... We knew who our customer was. We had very deep relationships and very easy access to that customer base, and so, for us it was like, "Let's just keep it open-minded. This space is moving quickly, there's 100 companies in this space, launching every month. The Creator Economy's on fire. A lot of interesting ideas are popping up." We don't know if... I, we had three ideas on day one. I didn't wanna go pitch those ideas, though, because I wasn't sure yet. I didn't, like, find PMF. I didn't find if these are gonna be validated, right? And so, I wanted to create the system where it could validate, build, and, like, change quickly so that we could de-risk the success of our company.

Jesse Clemmens: Cool. Yeah, I guess it's that agility that also allows you to find small problems, act really quickly on them, and, and, you know, perhaps address them for creators faster than, you know, it might take another startup to linger on a problem, think it through, mull it over, and convince the team to move in a new direction. So I'm, I'm guessing there's some, like, agility and ability to, to move really fast, as well.

Bobby Thakkar: 100%. It's just a mind shift at the end of the day, to be honest. No, I mean, and that allows any employee at our company to be like, "Hey, I have a new idea," and I'm like, "Great, you got a week. Go validate it. Build it in No Code tools. Figure out if there's a market there. We have the audience to kickstart it off and validate it really quickly. We have a budget to run, like, a few Facebook ads if we need to, if the idea makes sense for that." So, it's just, it keeps the door open.

Jesse Clemmens: Super cool. So tell us a little bit about yourself and the team behind Ampersand. What's the, what's the group look like, and how did you guys all get together, and what's your personal background and history?

Bobby Thakkar: Yeah. So, I guess I'll start with how the group got together. This is an interesting story. So, last year, during the pandemic, I was just, like, casually, like, in between jobs, and, like, just figuring things out. I had worked at an agency prior that had acquired my first startup, actually, back in 2018. But, I was working on sports contracts, but at the end of the day, like, there was always this, like, thought process between me and my friend who were like, "Let's go, like, build something small... 10K, 20K MRR... just for ourselves." And, like, 10K a month, that's, like, more than enough money to live and, like, comfortably, right? At least for myself and, like-

Jesse Clemmens: Just quickly, for audience members that might not be familiar, MRR is a measurement that startups often use, that is just a count of how much revenue is generated on a given month. And so, especially where a lot of creator tools are subscription-oriented, you can translate that to a certain company size, and what Bobby is describing is relatively smaller company size... you know, certainly su- successful on... and probably can stand on its own... but it's not huge, $20, $20K MRR a month. So, it, it's meant to be an example of how, you know, these could be smaller ideas that can be iterated under it quickly.

Bobby Thakkar: Yeah, and, like, there, there's this whole community called indie hackers, and this community is filled with indie developers, same way there's, like, indie gamers and indie game developers. But, indie hackers are just building these micro software services, products online that you pay $10 a month for, for it to do, like, this little automation or this, like, Shopify extension, or whatever it is. And I'm friends with a ton of these people, and that was, that was, like, the community I love to be a part of. Um, I came from a hackathon world back in college and high school. Like, this is just community that, like, and I loved working with.

And, I came from a marketing and design background. "Well, you would have..." No, no, this community is filled with 95% of developers. I'm sorry, but, like, they don't know how to market and sometimes they don't know how to design good products. So, I've always loved working with them, and I was pairing up and collaborating on these new projects, and I was like, "What if we just got a Discord server together, and a group together of all these indie hackers, and we would just support each other," because it's a very... it's a lonely, lonely mission. Lonely like a job when it's just, like, you, maybe one other person.

So.. And, like, we could all support each other. And, like, for me, I was like, "I could offer my designing services to, like, 10 different startups at once." So I created this really small discord community, I would say April or June of last year... called that Ampersand, actually, because it was just a collection of brands. I've been using Ampersand names since I was, like, 15, for little different projects here and there. Created this Discord, and then, I mean, just traveled. Started to come back, like, fall of 2020, like, where, like, you could go do, like, a big group house, if you wanted to, and that was kind of, like, socially acceptable. And we were all at our parents' house, we had all left our leases. We were like, "Okay, let's just go get a house in the middle of nowhere, Colorado, for a few weeks, and just, like, we all have to launch our startups that," like, in these, like, in this time period.

We went, we did that, we made a lot of noise on Twitter. Got this startup house filled with, like, 30 or 20 indie hackers, and we all had kind of, like, a micro brand online. That was really interesting, and it got a lot of attention. And, it was at the era, like, when Launch House first started, if anyone is familiar with Launch House, and so on and so forth.

From there it was like, "Wait, we're, like... We, we could do this bigger." At the house, when we were all in that room, we were like, "We love working together as a, as a group." We were like, "We could make this something big. Like, this doesn't have to be..." Like, we're all young. We can try to build…It doesn't have to be a, like, a 10K a month business." And so, from there we were like, "Okay, let, let's figure out what products are working, what, what aren't. Let's validate them. Let's, let's build some stuff. Let's build a, let's say, portfolio, products that we, to showcase that we know how to build better than any other startup team in the valley."

And so, we took that in December... Like, we went through... that was in October. So, November, December, January, February, like, we kept on building, we self-funded it. In March we were like, "Okay, we got something here. Let's go raise a round." So we went, we raised a small pre-seed round in March, and from there we just started taking off. We started building deeper products, we started hiring engineers. The team right now consists of about 20 patrons, as we call them, just community members. They all have an NFT that tells them that they're a patron of the community, and they're invited to all of our events. They come to our yearly house that we do, they support us online. We, they're in our Slack, are discussing, like, different topics. But they're all doing their own thing at the same time. They're all working on the next big startup, they're all doing whatever.

And a lot of those individuals came from our first test. On our core team we have one full-time designer in New York, two engineer, two product-oriented engineers here in, one in Austin, one in SF. And then, my co-founder, Nick Garfield, former Uber payments team and then CS Grad leads our product. Amazing product mind, great coder, as well.

And so, like, we have a really killer team that just... Nick, again, like, before I even met him he was working on indie projects. He had left Uber in 2019 to just work on indie projects full-time. And so, we're still part of that old community, and we still have a lot of respect for it. In the future, we also plan on, like, doing a lot of projects and grants to support that community where we stemmed from.

And so, that, that's kind of, like, the team, and, like, that's how it came out, and, like, we just kept the Ampersand name all the way through and just never changed, and then when we were, like, creating our corporation docs this year, like, "Guess it's Ampersand LLC," or, C-corp. And I was like, "Cool, done." We actually registered our company at another hacker house we were doing in Utah, following that up with a very similar group of people.

And so, our bank, which is in Utah for some reason, even though we're an Austin-based company…Truly distributed. I mean, our team's all over, but we often fly our team in, like, once a week every couple months. Those are usually the best weeks. But, slowly but surely, more and more of the team has moved to Austin. Nick was the first one to move to Austin, and then we actually only have one more person on our team left that has not committed to moving to Austin, which I bet will happen in the next two weeks. So, we'll, we'll, we'll see what happens.

And, I know you asked about my background. I think, like, it is important to note that I've been working in the Creator Economy before, in the Creator Economy in school, I guess. Creator Economy, like, blew up in 2020, and, like, everyone's like, "Oh, this is the future." And I'm like, "Guys, like, you've been working here since 2015 and now you care? Like, come on." [Laughing] The cool thing is... So, in high school I had a lot of talented friends, and I created a club called Second Gen. We blew it up to 100 schools.

I wasn't making any money, though, but, like, we had the 20,000 members in Facebook groups and I was like, "This is cool." And all of these high school kids doing their own, like, cool projects and, like, indie building and... Or, or they're photographers, or videographers, or graphic designers, and, like, I'm helping them how to, like, get local businesses, to hire them, and stuff like that. It was the most amazing thing I've probably done. That kicked off everything in my career. I've gotten jobs from there, helped thousands of other people do things. Uh, I know at least 10 people that was in our club system that ended up being a founder of a YC company.

And, from there, I created my first company, called Grupacity. Don't ask... I think it was, like, a group. I don't know why I called it Grupacity. It was, like, a group and we were in a city, and, like... I don't honestly know. It was a horrible name, now, looking back. Naming, probably no my specialty until Ampersand. I love Ampersand, but before that nothing was great. Grupacity was a network of photographers, and we could just, like, service quick events. Like Uber for photographers, essentially.

So, businesses would register, they would quickly request a photographer and we'd have someone there, guaranteed, every time. We serviced Dallas, Texas, where I lived. Then, we serviced all of Texas, every edge of Texas. We did stuff in El Paso, Lubbock, middle of nowhere. Then we started servicing states, and then we started signing up... We had... I was working at Red Bull at, at the time, part time, at the same time, and they were, like, "We struggle with photographers." I was like, "Great." Connect the dots. The Red Bull gigs were great, because everybody wanted the Red Bull gigs. I could, like, highly incentivize them.

The Red Bull contract ended up going really well. I was working full time for Red Bull. I had, I had been promoted, and then... I only lasted there for four months before my business started taking off and I had to work, focus on that full time. My business started doing photography all over the US. We had 9000 photographers in our database, and we serviced almost every Uber, like, Uber driver event. We did kind of NFL games, we did stuff more for Boeing, American Airlines. It was... Chanel, as well. That was a big one, and that started blowing up.

But, I didn't know what I was doing, because I was 18 years old when we hit 9000 photographers in our network, and I was like, I, I messed up my taxes that year [laughing]... I didn't know what I was do-... Like, my parents didn't know how to help me. It was, like, a whole, like... And it was like, I was just Googling away. I was, like, trying to figure it out, watching YouTube videos on, like, how to file, like, Turbo Tax taxes. I was like, "Okay, whatever."

So, what I ended up doing is I got overwhelmed, I needed help, I needed support. One of my clients ended up purchasing my company and I went to go work for them for two years. At that time I was in college. I took a gap year from college to go work for this new company. I was like, "Okay, let me soak everything in, let me learn from the best." Lasted there, worked on projects with NFL, worked on projects with iHeart Media Group, ton of music festivals. Still had my relationships with Red Bull, which was great, and, like, leveraged that a lot with my work. Ended up doing a lot of cool gaming stuff for the NFL, as well as other projects. Uh, or, like, other new gaming initiatives that was blowing up then.

It's important to mention that Red Bull, I was also working on the music festival stuff, whereas I was also working on iHeart Media stuff here, working with a lot of musicians. I had led a lot of, like, the new pitch-oriented competitions that Red Bull launched, where they would, like, try to incentivize college students to create businesses. When I moved over to this business I was again working with a lot of influencers in the gaming space, a lot of musicians, as well. These were all creators. We just didn't, like, really call them a part of the Creator Economy back then. The photographers, they're all creators. They weren't... I mean, and the cool thing is, because I did those things a lot of my friends have, like, 10 million subs on YouTube now.

Jesse Clemmens: Wow. Wow.

Bobby Thakkar: Like, but I was just friends with them, like, when I was 15 in high school, and I got lucky. That was, like... I've been in this path for that long. And then, I was working on the NFL project, got laid off during the pandemic. NFL contract kind of didn't end up lasting. Totally fine with that. It was a very mutual agreement.

It wasn't like, uh, bad blood or anything like that. I really appreciated it. Like, they took a risk on an 18-year-old and, I mean, it ended up going well and, like, I loved it. I was also ready to leave, so it was like, "Been two years. What's next?" I was like, "Oh, do I re-enroll in school?" Because, like, the market's crap. I re-enrolled in school. Not many people know that, actually. I never started classes last year, but I did re-enroll. But then I started contracting, so I contracted for, at Notion for a bit.

Jesse Clemmens: As a designer, or a marketer, or?

Bobby Thakkar: Marketer. So I was working on, like... So they had a new, new program for their students. So, it's students, like, they launched student... I was, like, uh, the Texas ambassador, as well. I did a few events here in Texas with my friend, Carson Jones. But, I was a Notion. I always wanted to be a part of that community.

Did some contract work and, like, intern work... essentially intern work for . Lolli, as a growth marketer. And so, I was like, "How do we grow?" And so, I would focus on, like, the college initiative. It was, like, very much like, "Oh, the Red Bull has one of the largest, best college initiatives in the country. Can you bring that to Lolli?" And I was like, "Okay." Because cryptocurrency and, like, all these terms are now, like, massive in the college space... They're, like... By that, I mean, like, there's new clubs popping up every day and all, and new classes in programming. It's like, "Oh this is a great time to get involved and be a leader in the space."

For those that don't know, Lolli is very much like a extension that gives you money back, but it's in the form of Bitcoin instead of cash. From there, worked at Stir, contracted there. I led a few drops. So, the one that I, like, led was OnlyTweets. OnlyTweets was a way to put a paywall in front of a Twitter account. And so, your private Twitter account. So, it was like OnlyFans, but on Twitter, and we got shut down by Twitter, but a few weeks later Twitter launched Super Follow. We were like, "Cool." I mean, the whole point of our thing was, like, we want these platforms like Twitter and Instagram to allow creators to monetize, and, like, that's... we got our goal. Like, Twitter has Super Follows now, and Twitter is moving in this direction better than any other company.

Jesse Clemmens: It's awesome, and, and it's kind of like, fits your M.O., too. Like, the idea of, of these quick, you know, not necessarily, like, products that are meant to solve a problem in a given moment of time, and Stir did an amazing job of, uh, utilizing this drops concept to, to a great degree of success in building momentum for its initial launch. It inspired a whole bunch of different startup founders in the creator space, myself included, to think about techniques like that. So it's really cool that you were a part of it.

Moving into Ampersand, can you briefly tell us a little bit about the products that you guys are working on today, what kind of stuff is live, and, and where you guys are headed in the future?

Bobby Thakkar: Yeah, so I think right now, today, like, over the last year we've ex-, been exploring, like, what are the creator problems. Uh, one of the biggest things, communication, direction communication. So the first product we built was called Directs. It's an easy way to text your whole audience instantly, and it allows creators to essentially, like, get their community engaged at a high level. Newsletters have, like, a 20% open rate. Our text service has, on average, 88%, which is amazing for us, and you could do a lot of cool initiatives. It opens the door on what you could do.

We had an account in New York called Vax Girl Summer. They do rooftop parties. They would literally have hundreds of people show up and they would text that audience the day of.

Jesse Clemmens: Sort of like instant connection with your audience to deliver timely updates, or exclusive content, or whatever.

Bobby Thakkar: Exclusive content... It's conversational, right? Like you send a newsletter you're not gonna get any replies. Like, newsletters don't look like things you reply to. You send out a text with a question, you get 100 ideas. Like, "Hey, I need a new idea for a video. Send it out. Hey, I need a, like, I'm throwing something in LA. Where should I throw it?" You got 100 ideas. And, like, you're leveraging your network, you're leveraging connection. You have this, like, full repository of, like, your potential customer base or audience that you didn't have access to prior because it's hard to access them on Instagram and Twitter. You could post an Instagram story, and 5% of your audience is gonna see it in the next 24 hours. It's not, like, the most effective way to reach your audience.

The thing is, like, when you have an audience you have a lot of interesting people in your audience. It, one fan could lead to the next 10 brand deals you have. One fan could lead to, like, setting you up with the venue of your next party. And, all of these things are super, super important, and, like, you miss one fan it's, like, a big deal and most of these platforms don't let you access 90% of your fans unless you pay for it, and it's like... So, we build this texting service. There are other services in the space... we're not the only one, by a long shot. There's, and we're not, like... We love these services, they all do a great job, and we're doing more and more... We're just trying to make it more accessible.

So, we rock the price point down to zero dollars a month and, like, make it more accessible for smaller creators to access. We also built in some cool features, like automations, so that you can, like, really take advantage of it, which we know a lot of our creators ask for. So, that's Directs. We built Tolta... Tolta's another, like... Or, we actually acquired Tolta from another indie hacker from our community in the past. We're relaunching it, and it's a centralized API for all your stats, and that is as far as some of our larger creators that we work with, where they just, like, wanted one dashboard with all their stats in one place, and that included their sales stats, and then we could also, like, bring up insights to show you what's working, what's not working in terms of converting people over to your Shopify store or whatnot.

Jesse Clemmens: So, this is sort of like a consolidated view, from what I understand, the, like, basic version of the service is a consolidated view of all your stats on all your var- various creator platforms. What struck me was that there's a bunch of products out there that do kind of similar things for, like, only the biggest platforms, like Instagram, Twitter, etc. and actually, there's, there's less services than I would have expected to find when I was researching this.

Bobby Thakkar: Yeah.

Jesse Clemmens: And then you guys have gone deep and you have integrated with a bunch of, like, very creator-specific services, like Gumroad, and ConvertKit, and Paddle, and Ghost, and Clubhouse that I know are, I know those, those are on the way. How'd you go about figuring out which platforms to integrate for creators?

Bobby Thakkar: I mean, at the end of the day it's like relationships. Like, similar to you, we have relationships across founders, and I literally just text founders. I'm like, "Hey, we need to do this."

Jesse Clemmens: Yeah.

Bobby Thakkar: "Otherwise you're gonna be left behind. Let's go do it." Like, and it's a quick, like, grab. I think for us, like... And it's, we're, we're making it out to actually completely free. Where we make the money is that other platforms need to showcase that data on their stats, and so we just have this one API. So instead of that company spending 10 hours, like, integrating all these tools, it's like... or, like, 10 hours per tool, like, integrating each tool, we're just, like, a 10-minute integration when they can get every asset, like, every data point that they want.

Jesse Clemmens: And from a creator perspective it's like, instead of flipping between a bunch of different places to look how your business is going, you have one place to, to look.

Bobby Thakkar: For sure.

Jesse Clemmens: It's kind of, like, in the same vein of what we're building at HiBeam, which is this consolidated messaging platform for creators. We deal with comments, and DMs, and in the future, potentially, more engagement types. But, as the Creator Economy has boomed, and more and more amazing services have become available for really cheap, frankly, to creators that are building their businesses, there's almost, like, a new problem, which is there's just too many pieces of information coming at you as a creator to make decisions on your business. It's a really cool problem that you guys are solving.

Bobby Thakkar: Yeah, and, like... And there's this new, whole... Like, what, the problem that you're helping, we haven't actually discussed your problem of, like, prioritizing DMs and stuff. We just gonna pack up. Like, if it's too big of a problem for us and it's too hard. But, we're now looking at a lot of, like, a lot of these problems of, like, essentially, like, data being all over the place, and the community being all over the place. Like, a lot of the problems we were tackling over last year was, like, "Wait, this gets solved with, like, this new Web3 rails."

And we were like, now we're exploring all of these Web3 ideas, and I think the market's not mature for it yet. Like, we know that, like, deploying apps right now is not gonna be the best thing to do. It's just not. People don't have the logins, people don't know how to, like, access it. So, we're spending a little bit longer designing them for consumer grade. We're trying to, like, waiting for certain technologies to come out. For those that don't know, Web3 encompasses, like, things like blockchain and cryptocurrency.

I think Web3 is, like, the bigger, more cultural word around that. We send you internet, but it's like, a lot of things in that, in that regard. But, the cool thing about that is, like, your data's open. You click a button, you get access to all the data. You don't have to spend, like, hours integrating stuff. A lot of people actually compare Web3 rails to the RSS feed that makes podcasts happen. Every podcast app has every podcast. You don't have to integrate into every podcast; it's just instant.

Jesse Clemmens: 'Cause it's freely available because they're basic-, there was just a decision way back in the day to make it open format. You know, in some ways similar to the initial Web1 structure of the internet, but now you have this, the pendulum swinging even further in the new direction of the new internet and Web3, where there are amalgamations of individuals working on really cool solutions that are totally permissionless and that the perfect match is between creators in Web3, because creators are all about going out there and producing what you want as an individual, without asking for permission. It's gonna be interesting to see how Web3 enables the creator space in particular.

Bobby Thakkar: Yeah, it makes sense. It's like, creators have never done what's normal according to society, right? Like, and that's gonna continue and that's gonna set them ahead of everyone else when it comes to, like, trying these new things, new products. Like, I am... People joke, like, "Oh, Bobby. You're a creator." Like, yes, I'm a... I guess I'm a creator. I don't, like, make YouTube videos, and, like, that's true. Like, I am a creator of a different norm, and, like, pushing the boundaries for, like, what we can do with the tools that we have access to, and I'm so excited for, like, what these tools in the hands of much more creative than me, like, individuals and, like, give them infrastructure and they're, they're gonna do... I don't know, I can't even imagine what they're gonna do with the tools that are coming out now. And so, like, the ability to, like, give ownership to, like, a coffee shop across the street, the neighborhood, or, like, things that we, we couldn't conceive of and, like, and we're gonna see how that plays out, because even today it's... There is a hard problem of, like, hard to conceive of even today's, like, like the Stock Market, right? Like, that is not the easiest thing to understand, and that's just gonna be 10-exed in terms of complexity when we open everything up to, like, the structurization of share-based work.

So we'll, we'll see how this goes, but I think it's really exciting to see, like, everyone working the space and, like, working with creators, and, like, all these new things. And it started with NFT drops, which is, like, cool, but that's literally 1% of what's capable, what people are, are gonna be capable of doing in this market. And so, we're really excited to, like, see where this goes.

Jesse Clemmens: Awesome. I'm really excited to follow along with the various projects and companies that spawn out of Ampersand. It's really cool to talk to you and learn about kind of this, like, long history of thriving off creative energy and, you know, wanting to contribute by building solutions.

Bobby Thakkar: Yeah.

Jesse Clemmens: Really appreciate you coming on the show. Anything else you wanted to mention before we kind of wrap up?

Bobby Thakkar: If you want to stay updated with everything we're doing, follow or go to put in your email, you will get all of our updates from time to time. But, other than that, like, always feel free to DM me questions on Twitter, or if you have anything, like, give me the wildest question. I'm more... I answer every single DM. If I get too many DMs I will need to use HiBeam, so, like, please hurry up with that.

Jesse Clemmens: Coming soon.

Bobby Thakkar: ... we need, we need that. But yeah, like, that's about it. I'm just excited and open to new questions and meeting new, new people. So, yeah. That's about it.

Jesse Clemmens: Love it. I do have one pop questions for you before we close, that I ask every guest. I actually usually ask two. One is around, what's your wild prediction for the Creator Economy, but I think we talked about some of this, you know, further out stuff. It's real exciting. So, I'll go with the very basic question: who's your personal favorite creator, either of all time, or just of the moment?

Bobby Thakkar: I could go with the basic answer of saying, like, Casey Neistat, but I don't want to. [Laughing] Ooh, that's a hard one. There's a lot of interesting creators. I mean, I wish I had a better answer for this. I've been following a lot with, like, Elliot Choy recently.

Jesse Clemmens: Okay.

Bobby Thakkar: So now, this is, like, bias. Like, we're friends. But, Elliot Choy, YouTuber. He's always made this vlog content super, glamorous life, like college, entrepreneur, startup guy, but now he's, like, making a lot more film-heavy content and, like... But also still inspiring people to be successful, and try new things, and being different.

And so, that's... that'll be my answer for today. I will say, this answer probably changes every week for me.

Jesse Clemmens: That's the beauty of a, the Creator Economy... I'm not familiar with Elliot, so I'm gonna look him up right after we get off the podcast, and we will link out to everything we talked about, actually: all the ways to reach you, Ampersand site; we'll link out to Elliot's channel, as well, and it's been really awesome talking to you, Bobby.

Bobby Thakkar: Awesome. Yeah, no, it's been great talking to you.

Jesse Clemmens: Cool.

Bobby Thakkar: Talk soon.

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