In the last update, I shared that we had been working on Wildfire and how we had started getting paying customers with it. However, during our discovery process, we found a problem that appears to be more pressing and painful for creators. So, in this post, I share those problems and how we arrived at choosing them to work on.
Substack has also introduced a new polling feature, so to improve the future issues of Founding in Public, I am going to start including a feedback section.
Now for the updates.
Things that went well
Creating a map of opportunities
Below is an example of how opportunity trees can assist with understanding the desired outcomes for your target audience and ways that you can capture opportunities to solve them.
Narrowing our focus to partnerships
Same mission, new approach
Our experience in the creator economy is that the odds are stacked against the creators. Things are getting better, but we believe that a lot creators don’t yet have the leverage they need to build a sustainable business. We believe in the power of the underdog, so our mission is to build solutions that start giving creators the unfair advantage.
We started by focusing on how we can improve audience growth for writers, but as explained in the next section, our hypothesis of how we could improve this didn’t play out.
Our user research did reveal that most creators with over 5k followers faced significant challenges in acquiring brand deals. The overall theme that emerged was a lack of transparency and support for how to approach this effectively.
In 2021, 94% of Creators made at least one sponsored post and 77% of Creators depend on brand deals, which is 3x as much as every other revenue source combined.
Co-designing our V1 with creators
Getting creators time for discovery is incredibly hard. They are already slammed with their content production cycles so getting them to give up their time is a tough sell. Our current hypothesis is that we believe if we can create a low-effort wedge to give them value fast, we can start getting more face time with them to understand how we can solve the more complex issues they are having.
This starting point for us is helping creators produce better Media Kits. Our rationale for this is that creators already spend time building static documents (Media Kits) that share their key usage stats and services. This pitch is rated of very high importance in the creator’s workflow, and currently, creators are not satisfied with the existing manual process of creating them.
After running design workshops with creators, we will have our first version in circulation next week.
Things that didn’t go to plan
🧯 Wildfire proof of concepts
We had been working on two proof concepts: helping people find more qualified newsletter subscriber leads through existin audience list enrichment and Twitter segment analysis.
The TLDR of this story is yes, creators value learning more about their audiences, but unless it does the work in getting them the new people, the solutions were seen as a ‘nice to have.’
There is still an opportunity here, but we felt that we could optimize an existing workflow more effectively than creating a new one.
Picking a name is hard.
I’ll start by saying this is a weird section to share the news of what we decided to name our company, but transparently it wasn’t easy, so it felt like the realist place to put this.
My co-founder Adam came up with the name Wildfire on the fly, and it just worked; however, moving away from distribution and into monetization meant that this name wouldn’t make sense anymore.
Our main criteria for picking a name was that we wanted it to be approachable to creators. So we went through several naming exercises and then polled our shortlist with people in the industry. I know all the branding experts out there are probably slamming their faces into their hands reading this, but we did our best with what we had.
So without further ado, we introduce you to Lasso!
(Branding is a work in progress too 😂)
A Question For You
This section essentially abuses the structure I tried to commit to above.