In the social media ecosystem, there are influencers seeking new revenue streams and aspiring influencers looking to grow their followers. PearPop wants to be the bridge that connects the two.
PearPop, which launched last October, is a platform where users pay TikTok influencers to collaborate on content. The influencers set their price for a duet, stitch, or sound (prices range anywhere from $15 to $3,333 per post), and users have the option to pay outright or bid a higher amount if there’s strong demand. In turn, that access to top influencers could boost a growing account.
It’s an idea that’s catching on with investors and creators.
PearPop recently announced raising $16 million in a Series A led by Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six, with angel investors including Gary Vaynerchuk, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Mark Cuban, Snoop Dogg, and YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast. PearPop currently has more than 10,000 creators on the platform (including such celebrities as Heidi Klum, Snoop Dogg, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kerry Washington) and has facilitated more than 1,000 transactions. (The company takes a 25% cut.)
These early collabs have yielded some success stories. Model Leah Svoboda went from 20,000 to 141,000 followers after a PearPop duet with Anna Shumate (10.2 million followers). After musician Tobias Dray collaborated with Katelyn Elizabeth (1.6 million followers) for $25 using one of his tracks as a sound on TikTok, that song got a bump from being used 30 times to 671.
“I always thought there should be a way to pay someone to collaborate with you directly,” says Cole Mason, founder and CEO of PearPop. “It blew my mind that there wasn’t a way to do that.”
Making a market
It’s easy to compare PearPop to the celebrity shout-out platform Cameo, but PearPop is establishing a distinct lane by creating a two-sided exchange with creators: High-level influencers earn revenue and budding influencers gain social capital.
“We’re just facilitating the transactions that are happening in the current marketplace,” says Spencer Market, cofounder and president of PearPop. “If you go direct to [an influencer’s] agent and say, I want to do something with Josh Richards, you would have to go to [management company] Talent X to negotiate a deal, sign a legal contract, pay a fee to facilitate that deal. We streamline and democratize that process entirely and give control to the creators.”
The idea for PearPop came out of Mason’s frustration as a former aspiring model. “[Agencies] really pressure you to boost your Instagram, so I went through different ways to scale it,” he says. “I was following and unfollowing people, trying to do every algorithm—nothing really worked.”
Mason eventually transitioned out of modeling and into work as a promoter, which help bankroll his short-lived 2018 startup GramEnvy aimed at growing people’s Instagram followers. Mason realized one way to do that was to have someone at the level of an influencer post about someone with a smaller following. However, changes to Instagram’s algorithm stunted GramEnvy’s approach, forcing it to shut down and leading Mason to refine the idea into PearPop.
A new revenue stream
Collabs between influencers is nothing new, but PearPop opens up the market while adding an additional revenue stream for influencers who may have a sizable following but not perhaps big enough to score the major brand deals as their top-level counterparts.
Collab with your favorite creators on #PearPop ????
“If you weren’t Charli D’Amelio or Noah Beck, you really weren’t making any money,” Mason says. “There are workarounds: You could sell merch or do meet-and-greets if you’re big enough. But there was just no way to monetize easily.”
TikTok has been trying to solve that issue with initiatives like the Creator Fund, which pays a stipend to creators, and the Creator Marketplace, a platform aimed at connecting brands and creators for collaborations.
While it certainly couldn’t hurt to apply to those initiatives, TikTok influencer Coby Persin appreciates the immediacy of PearPop.
“They’re canceling out the middleman,” he says. And not to mention, mitigating scammers. Prior to joining PearPop, Persin says that he’s has had people reach out to him to collaborate or create content, only to get stiffed. “You don’t want to go after them for $2,500 or $1,000,” Persin says. “What are you gonna do? Hire a lawyer in the hopes of finding the guy in Sweden that took your money? You’re stuck.”
Persin says that while his main revenue on TikTok comes from the Creator Fund, PearPop is a worthwhile addition to the mix of streams available to creators. “It has a spot in the industry where it needs it,” he says.
Mason says PearPop started on TikTok because it had the most robust suite of features to collaborate with other users. But as other platforms expand those capabilities, PearPop’s accessibility will follow suit, e.g. Mason says PearPop will include Instagram in the coming weeks. “PearPop’s mission,” he says, “is to make anyone and everyone accessible on social media.”