Ben Horowitz backs rapper Ryan Leslie’s SMS commerce startup Superphone
Ryan Leslie gave each fan his telephone quantity. It’s (915) 600-6978. However as an alternative of one million undesirable telephone calls, it’s making him cash and giving him deeper intelligence about his listeners than anybody within the music enterprise.
That’s why A16z’s Ben Horowitz, Betaworks, and extra buyers simply put a $1.5 million seed spherical into Leslie’s startup Disruptive Multimedia. It’s turning the SMS-based mostly CRM and direct gross sales device referred to as Superphone that Leslie coded himself right into a product any superstar or creator can use to impress and monetize their viewers.
“We’re constructing a method for artists to personal their relationship with their followers” Leslie tells me. Past his personal recordings, Leslie rose to fame producing for artists like Snoop Dogg, Cassie, and Usher. “What I began to seek out was that social networks have been anti-social networks” the musician says.
With platforms like Fb and Twitter proving unreliable methods to succeed in followers, and the cellular era sidestepping e mail, Superphone builds a bond on probably the most highly effective piece of contact info: the telephone quantity.
There’s now 2700 Superphone personal beta shoppers throughout verticals, together with musicians like Lil Wayne and Kevin Jonas in addition to authors like Bonin Bough. For a charge based mostly on what number of textual content messages they ship plus a 5% tax on ecommerce funds, they know precisely who every of their followers are, how a lot they’ve spent, and may ship them personalised messages and gross sales provides.
Leslie says “I feel there’s a loopy correlation between how typically you contact your clients and the way a lot you earn out of your clients.”
Name Me On My Superphone
Right here’s how Superphone works. Celebrities and different shoppers can distribute a particular telephone quantity related to their Superphone account. Any time a fan calls or texts it, or buys one thing on one in every of their on-line shops and fills out a type, they get a welcome message prompting them to offer some private information. That would embrace location, biographical information, or any knowledge sort the shopper needs to phase their viewers by.
Superphone creates a subsequent-era telephone ebook that’s truly extra of a buyer relationship administration software. For now it’s an internet device however the Superphone staff hopes to have native apps out there within the subsequent few weeks. The Superphone dashboard lets shoppers view charts and graphs of who’s paying for what to allow them to hone in on their most essential followers.
By way of Twilio’s SMS service, shoppers can ship advertising and gross sales messages to any cross-part of their followers. That could possibly be everybody for a brand new album launch or a easy thanks, ones that reside in a sure metropolis to advertise a live performance, or solely ones who’ve spent over $one hundred for a particular occasion invite or unique VIP alternative. These messages can embrace Shopify or different gross sales hyperlinks the place followers can retailer bank card information or immediately make purchases.
Turning Conversations Into Clients
Leslie now has forty,000 followers in his Superphonebook. When he booked an extravagant New Yr’s Eve live performance at a fort in Vienna, he was capable of invite his highest paying followers in Europe to attend. He bought 200 tickets at $1700 a pop in forty eight hours — all by means of Superphone. In the meantime, he has a “lifetime album” the place individuals pledge to pay $1 to $one hundred every time he releases a track in order that they’re the primary to listen to it.
Not too shabby for a product Leslie constructed v1 of two years after working although Codeacademy’s tutorials. Because of a glowing suggestion from Bevel’s Tristan Walker, Leslie related with famed investor and lifelong hip-hop fanatic Ben Horowitz who agreed to steer his seed spherical. Now that $1.5 million has closed with participation from an extended listing of funds and angels
[MOOR & MOOR AB, Betaworks, Anxa Holding, Donald Katz, Keith Smith, Linda Bernard, Anthony G. Aguila, Base LV Tech, Decide Ventures, Kofi Kankam, Nnemdi Kamanu Elias, Robert T. Melvin, Ryan Babel, Shanti Kandasamy, BPG Fund, Jennifer Byrne, Radiary Creations, LLC, Taj Clayton, RPM, Sherrese Clark-Soares, Mychal Kendricks, Williams Anderson Investments, Monami Leisure, Impress Ventures, and Transmedia Ventures.]
Subsequent, Leslie will probably be hiring out the event staff. He says “the lengthy-time period imaginative and prescient is to take AI and machine studying and add that intelligence layer on prime of any messaging plat as a result of it’s the conversations I feel are probably the most beneficial.”
Whereas everybody else buys advertisements, performs good with the press, and, blasts out social media making an attempt to succeed in followers, Superphone lets creators merely speak to the instantly like they might any of their buddies.