More and more celebrities and athletes are sharing their thoughts and experiences via social media. However, they often run into issues surrounding sponsorships or being beholden to contracts that limit who they can talk to and what they can talk about.

Curastory wants to change that. This Deal to Watch is creating a platform where creators can upload their own content (free of outside influence) and then companies can choose to sponsor individual videos. This creates flexibility and freedom for both the creators and the sponsors.

We sat down with founder Tiffany Kelly to talk about how she came up with this idea, how her experiences have influenced her, and where it’s all going.

Funding Round Details

Curastory logo
Company: Curastory
Security Type: SAFE
Valuation: $6,000,000
Min Investment: $100
Platform: Wefunder
Deadline: Jul 21, 2020
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Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?

Curastory allows for brands to authentically connect with their target market through user-generated video sponsorship.

What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?

I was invited to speak at Facebook while I was still at my old gig with ESPN. I had a conversation with the VP of Data at Instagram, who was also planning the conference, that told me in so many words if my startup failed, I always had a job there. It really put things in perspective for me that now was the time to take risks when I’m not really tied to anything or anyone and will put everything into the startup to make it successful.

What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?

I’ve always been in leadership positions from high school until now, or created something from scratch that is still in existence at my previous jobs or schools. Entrepreneurial genes run through my family with my first cousin, Stacy Spikes, also being the founder of MoviePass and now PreShow. I’ve learned so many lessons from him. But most importantly, we are starting with athlete content creators for Curastory and I’ve learned almost everything there is to know about media and user-generated content from working at ESPN and having over 150 user interviews with athletes and brands since Curastory’s origination.

What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?

For anyone and everyone that wants to create videos to own them and monetize them as they please without being lumped into the category of influencer marketing. There is a very large difference between posting a product ad and posting original content that’s sponsored. We want to continue to empower individuals to create videos from support through brand sponsorship. I also imagine a reckoning in sports happening as we speak where athletes will break their own news with journalists or other individuals that’s sponsored on their own social media channels.

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

Our tech leaders, Tiffany & Shane, are some of the best algorithm developers but need help in the marketing department. Our design experts, Austin & Frankie, can bring any idea to life but need assistance in forming other connections needed to get our company to run. Our go-to person for all things public policy, D’Bria, stands in some of the most powerful rooms to strike deals for our content creators, but her experience is mostly legal affairs. And our intern, Addie, understands the problem to her core being our first target market, but [is] just starting her career. Because each of us understands our strengths and weaknesses, we form a team with founder- / team- market fit being advised by some incredible industry experts. We all came together through mutual sports industry connections, General Assembly, or cold intros.

How do you reach around/comply with NCAA regulations for collegiate athletes?

Honestly, the edge we have is being supported by individuals on the inside that are working directly with athletic departments and student athletes everyday. Specifically for NCAA student athletes to monetize, there has to be zero institutional involvement which the only platforms currently in the market are in violation of, which is why Curastory was approved by the NCAA. 

What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

At the pre-seed stage, those that invest in you are individuals who can vouch for your skill set and what you can do. Unfortunately, being a black female, my network isn’t filled with individuals that can write me a $300K check like other founders. Equity crowdfunding was the only option because traditional funding wasn’t an option for me this early. Also, I wanted to give back to my community with the opportunity for friends and family to invest as little as $100. The funds will be used for team (50%), web application (35%), and marketing / sales for launch (15%).

What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?

Companies succeed because there is an incredible founder-market fit that the founding team has in order to scale. The problem of video sponsorship is extremely large and no one would argue the market opportunity. Starting with a small target market that I have a monopoly over, NCAA student athletes and pro athletes, is how we will win and prove product-market fit before scaling to all content creators.

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?

Exit strategy will solely be focused on making sure the culture of allowing any and every content creator to find sponsors for their original video content. Making sure they won’t have to do influencer marketing or rely on poor revenue from platforms like YouTube or Patreon ever again.

We are excited to see where Tiffany and her team take the company. Curastory is currently raising on Wefunder.