Creator Kit Episode 15: Creative Juice's Nico Moschopoulos
In this week's episode, we talk with Nico from Creative Juice about financial tools 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.
Nico Moschopoulos is an early team member at Creative Juice, a banking solution for creators. On today’s show we talk about Creative Juice's mission to solve for the unique needs of creator businesses.
Nico has a one-of-a-kind professional journey from pre-IPO Airbnb, to fintech, to the kitchen of one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the world - and most recently to engineering financial tools for creators at Creative Juice.
Here are some of our favorite takeaways from the conversation:
1. Creators are a new type of SMB
Creative Juice is building tools that are tailor made for creators - who at the end of the day are a unique type of small and medium-sized business with unique financial needs.
"So we're building basically a banking solution for creators. I like to think of what we're doing as a financial services layer for the creator economy. And that mixes two different types of products...tools that you associate with financial services, like banking and loan products and investment products. And then we also have a set of business analytics. At the heart of it, we view creators as part of this new world of SMB businesses; and the tooling that they have to grow and manage their businesses just doesn't exist in the same way that it does for other types of businesses."
2. Splitting the money is half the battle
Nico describes some of those unique needs in detail - a lot of it comes down to how money flows, in a profession that lends itself heavily to collaboration.
"So we've built invoicing software so that you can invoice other either vendors or other creators. And within that, we've also built (and are releasing very soon) split payments. You can split some of those invoices with other creators that you've collaborated with. And within that too, for creators a little later on in their journey, we're building out manager flows and manager access. When you have a manager helping you to grow and manage a lot of your business, we're giving access to them to help manage all those invoices and split payments between managers and creators and all that kind of software and tooling."
3. Ending the Rate Card guessing game
Nico describes how it can be challenging for creators to know what to charge sponsors, especially when most work independently. Applying data science might be the answer.
"We've got media kit solution for creators to help understand what their rates are (what they should be charging) which is a very, kind of... opaque metric in general and not very clearly understood. And we believe that if you tie in all of your data, we can use machine learning models to help understand what those rates should be, or what they can be."
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Jesse: Awesome, Nico. Thanks so much for coming on the Creator Kit podcast.
Nico: Thanks for having me, Jesse.
Jesse: This has kind of been, feels like somewhat a long time in the works. You and I have, uh, become friends in the last few months through the New York Creator Economy Builders meetup, it's uh, for folks that don't know it's a group of startup founders and builders in the New York area, feeling a little safer post a pandemic, we started getting together a few months back. We basically just pick a bar, grab some drinks, and it's, it's a great group. That's sort of the two of us got to know one another, I think. Did we find each other on Twitter initially?
I'm trying to remember.
Nico:Li Jin’s Slack group… on the Passion Economy slack group.
Jesse: That's right. Which is another excellent kind of gathering place for, uh, for creative economy and passion economy stuff.
Nico: The drinks in New York have been awesome. It's fun. It's fun to meet people who are in this space in this world.
And, uh, it's been altered to meet, uh, some creators as well, who are like really excited about some of the stuff that everyone is building and like, it's cool to learn about.
Jesse: For sure. Yeah. And we're, we're on our third meetup. Now, the first one was much more builders and creator economy companies. And then, uh, we had a good showing of creators last time, Josh Kaplan from Smooth Ops, who I hope to have on the show sometime soon has been doing some co invites. And then, you know, with you helping, uh, some of the organization as well, it's been, it's been good. So we've got to keep it rolling, but kind of sign up creator economy, state of the creator economy is there's a lot of folks that are. Kind of found this space recently and are like equally excited about it, which makes for good energy.
And maybe that's a good way to start on your background. How did you get involved in creator economy stuff? I know you've had a few different projects and you're now at Creative Juice kick us off by letting us know how you got into this stuff.
Nico: Yeah. So my background is software engineering. I started my career about six years ago.
It's always scary to do the math backwards, but I started working at Airbnb a little while back. I spent a couple of years. Left to join kind of a smaller company based in New York, a FinTech product called Petal. And I spent a couple of years there and COVID hit and like many people, I guess I burned out a little bit.
I wanted to do something a little bit different, pursue a very separate passion and dream of mine. So I left and went to work in a restaurant for a little bit. So I spent about three months working in a restaurant in September of 2020 and kind of at the tail end of that. Was convinced for a little bit, that I'd keep on the path of becoming a chef, but it was before anyone was vaccinated, it was kind of a scary time.
So I, I instead became like a couch surfer at my mom's place and like crashed for a couple of months and just kind of detoxed and started. Picking up, like reading about what was going on in the world and in particular, in the world of kind of tackling what was interesting. And I think there was like two really interesting narratives at the time, which are starting to converge in some interesting ways, but one was like NFTs and crypto and what was happening there.
And then the other one was like creator economy. And what was happening with that? And so I started reading about both and getting very interested and like through reading various different publications and different things. I came across Creative Juice, which is where I'm at right now. And I had a really awesome first chat with SEMA and it seemed like Creative Juice was kind of on track and on a really interesting path to start solving some really difficult pain points for creators.
So it seemed like an awesome place to kind of dive into the world of the creator.
Jesse: Amazing. I love the bridge of like your time in the food industry, which is its own completely different manifestation of creativity and creation. And like, I'd be remiss if I didn't ask a few more details about the food side of things, what were you doing?
And what was that experience like? I was
Nico: at a restaurant called Noma it's based in Copenhagen. It was a lot of prep work. It's incredible to see kind of the insides of a restaurant and how it works as a diner. You go there and everything is so beautifully polished. It makes, it gives you the sense of kind of fearlessness, which is designed, you know, in large part by the restaurant itself.
But behind the scenes, there's a lot of people doing a lot of very hard work to get it kind of up and running and to get that polished look perfect. So like Noma was a very crazy chaotic place. I think. 40 interns and kind of 20, 15 to 24 full-time chefs who work there. And each one of them is almost like a one-to-one ratio with diners, which is absolutely insane.
Jesse: I have to pause you. I think you're underselling it a little bit. If I remember Noma is what's known as ranking in terms of restaurants in the world. I think
Nico: there were a #2 when I was there. Yeah.
Jesse: Okay. So literal like one of the best, uh, most acclaimed restaurants in the universe, which is incredible and no surprise that it takes a lot of effort to make that happen, I guess.
Nico: Yeah. It was a lot of work, actually. It's interesting. Part of this story of how. I ended up working in the culinary world is tied back to some of the creator tools and economy like during COVID was just very, I just started cooking at the same amount. I've always loved cooking, but living in cities like New York and San Francisco is it's sometimes hard to convince your friends to come to eat your food versus a delicious restaurants food.
Jesse: If you said, I even have the space to cook that too.
Nico: And so having the time. During kind of lockdown and being at home and you just, like, I bought an insane number of cookbooks and also spent a lot of time on, on tools like masterclass and Instagram live. I discovered a lot of really awesome chefs and personalities, and that was something that I really loved, like see.
The inside lives of some of these, these chefs and personalities was early awesome experience. It really pushed me to pursue some of
Jesse: those passions. Yeah. Th that's that's a definite, like, I think earlier I was like, it's an unlikely bridge. That's a different flavor of creativity, but now that you're describing it, I'm like, oh no, that's, it's actually like, totally makes sense that you would be passionate about the creator space.
If you were able to get this, like behind the scenes, look with no gatekeepers of this. World of food that you love so much from your phone. I mean,
Nico: it's insane. I mean, if you looked at my YouTube recommendations a couple of years ago during COVID, it was like all kinds of different food creators were doing really awesome stuff.
And like, it's an incredible way to learn so many different skills. I mean, in this case recipes, but like I have friends who've gotten deep into chess because of YouTube or food or whatever else it is. So it's really all.
Jesse: How do you find the connection between engineering and food? Are there any similarities or does it feel like a complete different?
I know it's like sort of a science
Nico: interesting question. I thought a little bit about it. At least the process of making food at Noma in comparison to some of the engineering work that I've done. And I've come to the realization that Noma is producing a luxury product. And so basically the act of producing anything that's so expensive and luxurious takes a lot of manpower.
What we would call a QA and just making sure that at every step of the way, like the quality of what you're producing, even if it's in prep work is just like at the peak of what it can be. And in a lot of the cases in the kitchen, you're like your work and your prep is handed off to someone else. And so if it's not ready for that next person or the next chef or whoever it is to transform it or use it, then you have.
Your job. Well, because they're scrambling at the last minute. And the last minute when the diners there should be about kind of assembly and not like building, if that makes sense.
Jesse: Yeah, totally. And it's like a team sport too much. Like a lot of, well, not all developing, but want to work, but a lot of it is, is like super independent interdependent.
All right. So you got, you got connected with the Creative Juice team. What have you been working on? Tell us, maybe tell us a little bit about. The product itself and, uh, would love to dwell a little bit on the, on the product and the solution to how it fits into this incredible creator academy that we both work on.
Nico: So when I joined, I think the company was maybe two to three months old. We basically started about a year ago with any company that size you're kind of, we knew what we wanted to build and, and the world that we wanted to build in. And we're just like figuring out the first steps. We've come an insane way since when, when I first joined the year.
So we're building basically a banking solution for, for creators. I like to think of what we're doing is kind of a financial services layer for the creator economy, essentially. And that mixes two different types of products. There's all these tools that you associate with financial services, like banking and loan products and investment products.
And then we also have. Kind of set of business analytics and at the heart of it, we view creators as kind of this new world of SMB businesses and the tooling that they have to grow and manage their businesses just doesn't exist in the same way that it does for other types of businesses. And that's what we're trying to build.
Jesse: Is there a example of like a crater type that makes most sense for your product in its current stage? How you guys would empower them to grow, I guess, grow faster or be in more control of their finances or something in that area.
Nico: There's so much in that realm. I think our target creator is kind of around the 10 to a hundred thousand follower level, making somewhere, at least at least like 20,000 a year, like monetizing some of their content.
And I mean, we can grow up and down and we can talk about various. Products and tools that we've built to help bigger and smaller creators, but at the base of it, we've got a banking platform that we, that we built out in this past year and everything kind of. Is built on top of that. So we've built like invoicing software so that you can invoice other either vendors or other creators.
And within that, we've also built and are releasing very soon, like split payments. You can split some of those invoices with other creators that you've collaborated with. Within that twos kind of some of the like creators a little later on in their journey. We're, we're building out manager flows and manager access.
So like when your business is being, when you have a manager helping you and like growing and managing a lot of your business, like we're giving access to them to help manage all those invoices and split payments on those invoices between managers and creators and all that kind of . Software to.
Jesse: The 10K size is interesting.
Cause that's pretty much the same size that when people ask me about HiBeam and like, when does our solution start making sense? It's that same stage where. In many cases, if the creators are starting to get some traction and makes what is no longer like small amount of money now making maybe not an insane amount of money, but enough that they're like, okay, I could see how this could scale up as a business.
Maybe I should go full-time in the future. Or maybe I'll continue part-time on this and hire someone else to help. And like, that feels like when there's basically like a fork in the road where for, for any given creator that's hit that size. Some portions of creators are like, yeah, this is turning into a lot of work.
Like maybe, maybe this isn't like my passion and maybe I'll keep running it at this size. And then there's another band of creators and personality types that are like, well, I now I know like what I need to put in and what I can get out. And it's almost formulaic, like produce X content per week, et cetera.
I'm interested in how this, how does this connect to like the analytics and data side of things? Because of the business of being a creator is interesting because it's a very metrics and analytics driven business. And so is finance and financial tools. Like how do those two things connect in a platform like creative?
Nico: It isn't it isn't, I mean, a lot of creators just focus purely on the creative aspect of their craft. And they don't want to really think about some of the metrics stuff so much. And some creators are very deep into the metrics and like some of these costs. Targets and all the different views and subscribers, et cetera.
For us, we view those as kind of integral pieces of what it like understanding what your business, where your business is and how it's, how it's performing over time. So we give access to two metrics like evergreen content, which is for you tubers might notice it's the percentage of their, of their videos that is kind of generating.
Revenue for, for a very long period of time, because it's ad revenue, you know, you can put up a video two years ago and still be making money off of it right now. And so we're giving them access to analytics like that, to help them understand how their business is performing and how their content is performing over time.
It also ties into many other pieces of business. So we've got media kit solution for creators to help. Understand what their rates are, what they should be charging, which is a very kind of opaque metric in, in general. And like not very clearly understood. And we believe that if you tie in all of your data, we can use some, some machine learning models to help understand what those rates should be and what they can be.
Jesse: Yeah. Yeah, because the, on the rate card side, So I, I come from the advertising world prior to my creator life for publishers like traditional publishers, like your, you know, via comes to the world or Buzzfeed or whatever Rate card would be like, how much am I charging for every thousand impressions on my website?
And so like, that would change depending on. The performance that advertisers saw and what was going on in terms of audience reach and like all these other things. And it was like very dynamic, like many of these big companies, like via con for example, has a team of, you know, maybe a dozen people, including data scientists that like try to figure this out creators, especially the smaller ones are on their own to do it.
And it's, it sounds like pretty cool that you guys have a solution that helps do part of that job. In a way, because like, I imagine that folks start out with a number that they have in mind. They kind of find a sweet spot of like what they should charge sponsors, but then it's dynamic because they're growing a, hopefully they're growing, but their audience size changes, their engagement changes.
Nico: Yeah. And obviously a lot of these relationships are, are personal. And so, you know, depending on who the advertiser is, you might change them up or down, but having a baseline to understand what it is that you should be charging. You know, your business is kind of worth or should be charging for those rates.
And for those sponsored posts and stuff, I think is, has been really helpful for a lot of creators.
Jesse: So there's an area that my brain wants to go in, but if it's not a strong connection, we don't have to go this way. What sprung to mind for me, knowing that you come from air, you spent some time at Airbnb was... I'm an Airbnb host myself; I never know what rate to charge and like there's some tools to help me figure out pricing. Is there any connection with the work that you did at Airbnb and this kind of like dynamic pricing for Creartors?
Nico: So I'm not the one who's working on the machine learning models. We've got a, an awesome data science guy named Nolan who's building out a lot of those, but the concept, the underlying concept I think is, is very similar. Just like we see a lot more data than you ever would as an individual host on Airbnb or creator and using that we can help you generate a lot more, kind of a much better understanding of what you should be.
Jesse: Love it. Okay. So if I'm a creator, Listening to create a podcast. I'm like, oh man, this sounds great. There's all these tools I can use. How would I get started? Can I, can I just go and sign up or are you guys in a wait period or anything like that?
Nico: Getjuice.com. We opened up the waitlist a little while ago, so you're free to sign up.
You'll see. There's a few other tools that we haven't even touched on here that, that are live in the site. Like juice boost. Help you basically paying out ad sense at the beginning of the month and help you kind of grow and monetize your business like that. We have a Juice Fund product as well. So we have a team that is working on like direct investments in creators.
And I think that's one of the coolest part of parts of this business. So we've invested in a number of different creators to help them grow. Their business with a lot more kind of like hands-on work, but also just a lot of times you just need some money right now to just start to do something or to become a little more entrepreneurial or, yeah,
Jesse: that's awesome. I actually want to talk about both things. Um, if we have time, but quickly on the Juice fund side, I listened to the Mr. Beast, Joe Rogan episode recently, actually, I kind of dropped off listening to Rogan last couple of years, but this one in the back end and, uh, And I was like, man, I didn't realize that the Mr. Beast plows every dollar that he makes back into the business and producing content. And some of his biggest videos are incredibly expensive to produce. It sounded from the podcast. It sounded like he's like taking every dollar and putting it back in for smaller creators or even big creators that are quite at the scale of Mr. Beast.
How does the ability to get a hold of working capital change, the nature of how fast these folks can build their business.
Nico: I'll start off by saying Mr. Beast is as you know, quite a unique character and individual is absolutely insane for most creators. I mean, it's very ad hoc depending on your situation and where your business is and where your creative businesses. Creators we helped Oompaville was interested in launching a candy brand. And so we invested in his business and he bought a candy machine and just kind of ramping up sales of candy through, through his business and through our, with our investment. We've also invested in a couple of really awesome, like there's a creator called Never Too Small - Australian kind of interior designers. So it really varies pretty widely. And our, our investment team is like, they're really awesome. And they've done some really, really cool partnerships and investments.
Jesse: That's awesome. I have a few folks in mind that could definitely use that. That sort of helps them. So if I'm. Uh, creater that's has been, I guess, accepted or funded by the Juice fund. Do I need to present sort of like a business plan or, or is it like, uh, how, how does it all work around? Like what the money is used for, for speeding loosened and like, um, trust.
Nico: I'm not entirely sure how the, those presentations and pitches go necessarily.
I will say it works very well for, for creators who are a little more entrepreneurial minded and try and, and want to go horizontal kind of, and convert their audience into something a little more. But each individual creator is kind of a. Conversation and, and yeah. Situation. So that's how we've approached the investments as well.
Jesse: Super cool and very, very unique, uh, value add. Really awesome. Okay. So quickly Juice boost. So, all right. So I kinda got like, there's like something about managing ad sense revenue and getting paid earlier. Was it? Yup. Yeah. How does it work?
Nico: Yeah. So this is, uh, another one of our products that we're, we're excited about having rolled out and seeing some really interesting traction on, but basically as a creator, your YouTube ad will get paid at the end of the month.
Our product, our Juice boost product basically just gives you access to that. At the beginning of the month, there's a small, a small fee associated to that, but it lets you kind of take that money and apply it to whatever it is that you might need. It.
Jesse: Cool. So it's like instant sort of instant payout on what you've earned.
Yeah, it's funny. I like not to keep talking about my advertising background, but when I was at Google, the, the fact that Google was able to pay out people within 30 days was like a huge value add. Like I remember talking to publishers that were working with other ad sources and the traditional payout cycle would be, you sell a bunch of ads to a company.
And then 60 to 90 days later, he would get a check. And by the way, sometimes that check would be different than what you thought you earned. And like the amount of free float that, that some of these advertising agencies, uh, or able to maintain was pretty remarkable. So like, I can imagine just knowing what their action was for me when I was selling to publishers, to be able to say 30 days, That they can get access to this funds immediately is game-changing.
Nico: Yeah. I mean, these kinds of things are great for the businesses kind of lending you the cash, but, or paying you out, but not, not great for the, for the individual themselves. And like, you know, creators in this case have done all the work already. The videos are live and it's kind of frustrating to not have access to that capital.
Jesse: Yeah. Especially when like, the publishers I was working with were businesses usually pretty large. Like they had like, and like creators often are just themselves and they have rent due on the third of the month or whatever. So different set of pressures. Cool. That's awesome, man.
Anything else on the Creative Juice side? Like stuff upcoming that you want to talk about or anything else you wanna do?
Nico: I'm just excited about some of the manager access stuff. And for some of the creators, if you do have managers, it'll hopefully be an incredible value add to their flows and how they work together.
Yeah. We also have a discord that anyone is welcome to join. We're trying to part of the Juice funds, projects and ideas also to start building out a little bit of that community for creators. So I can share the links with you for anything Twitter, Discord.
Jesse: We'll throw them in the episode description for sure.
All right. I like to hit every guest with a surprise pop question. You got lucky here because I actually asked you ahead of, ahead of the episode, but I asked you what your favorite, your current favorite creator is. And you told me it's an account @battleofthenoodz – important audio clarification, noodz is spelled, N O O D Z.
But tell us about this one.
Nico: There's not my favorite creator, that's just our personal, like a little project that me and some friends are working on. Yeah, there's a lot of, much better creators than, than us, but we're just having fun. It was a way to kind of explore a variety of different ramen spots in New York city and encourage ourselves to kind of get out during the cold and like have a reason to visit different places. So we've got an entire bracket. Like I think 37 or 38 ramen places in New York city. And so we've been, I think we've gotten to like six or seven. It just started. I'm pretty sure I'm going to get like high cholesterol or so this was our fun little kind of side project to like share some of those.
Jesse: I love that. I love that. And it can be like a, it's an activity on its own my activity right now I'm scoring Manhattans at cocktail places. So it's like a couple of months, which maybe is even more unhealthy than, than ramen, but it's fun. It's fun. So I'll have to, I'll definitely want to check the bracket out.
Nico: Maybe we need a collab or something - Manhattans and Ramen.
Jesse: Yeah. I don't know how that would go together, but, uh, we can try it out. We can try it out.
Nico: Yeah. I think, I think Sapporo is a better
Jesse: definitely what's the top ramen spot on the bracket.
Nico: Ooh for whoever is in New York city, we visited a place called TabeTomo. That's out in the east village right next to Tompkins square. It is a vibe it's incredibly good and delicious. I do not want to know how many calories are in a bowl, but it was a very fun place. Randomly having a Sapporo night. So we drank a lot of Sapporo and Ramen was really good.
Jesse: I love it. Love it, man. Staying in touch with your, your food roots and, and love. I love that.
Awesome. Anything else you want to cover before we call
Nico: it? I think that's a good amount, but I'm excited for people to check out Creative Juice and to leave some feedback and help us.
Jesse: Yeah, it's, it's, um, definitely an exciting time to see all these solutions come together to arm creators to grow faster.
It's uh, you know, certainly one of the most fulfilling elements of the job is. I at least speaking for myself, but it sounds like for you, as well as like getting these tools out there and seeing them actually working for people and helping make lives better for people that have chosen this very unique, uh, pursuit and career.
So love it, man. And I will see you at our next meetup.
Nico: I'm excited looking forward to it. Thank you Jesse.
Jesse: Cool. Thanks Nico. Talk to you soon.