Do you have a personal brand or company that could benefit selling your own custom-branded merch? It’s never been easier than it is with Yoobe.
In a world of unlimited digital content and social influence, even the biggest brands and designers invest and partner to access new and emerging audience opportunities. In special cases, top deals for online influencers can include custom product lines – similar to how some top athletes can license their own names or likenesses to big brands to produce personalized apparel. But far more commonly, most online influencers will represent big brands by simply plugging standard products, something that could conceivably be sold to a substantial portion of their audience.
While some influencers do also monetize their own custom merchandise, only the biggest can—and most don’t—because they have to manage it all themselves. Running a whole extra side hustle in merch sales is just too labor intensive for most creators—even if they aren’t doing the shipping themselvs, handing the orders through fulfillment partners and customer service is just too much—because creators’ efforts are primarily focused on the content for their audiences.
Until now, no branding or partnerships e-commerce solution directly empowered social influencers and independent content creators to collaborate together, easily engaging to produce custom-branded products, and sharing the sales upside.
Genau Lopes Junior is the Founder & CEO of Yoobe, a San Francisco Founder Institute portfolio company that has built a platform to connect influencers (or even wannabe influencers – really anyone) with all the tools needed to easily create and monetize their very own custom merchandise store—all without ever having to meet with a manufacturer, or ship a single piece of inventory.
Yoobe is a platform that lets anyone easily curate designs into an online store—design content is effortlessly sourced from both your own fan community, or using Yoobe’s AI solution, which draws content from web and social sites to build designs into customizable and scalable ecommerce stores.
We’re excited that the Founder Institute has launched our own Yoobe storefront – check it out here!
We created a platform where people can use their social profile to connect with it, and once they connect with our platform, through machine learning we start to read all the content that this person has online, the audience demographics, and then suggest relevant products based on their content and their audience.
From that initial sync, Yoobe automatically creates a dynamic and scalable storefront for any content owner. It’s at this point that the store also opens up for design concepts and idea submissions from any fans or followers.
The content creator or influencer can look through submissions, and approve ones they like best, accepting terms from the independent creators who submitted the fan art. Fans and graphic designers earn commissions on products sold, splitting earnings through simple agreement with the brands or creators they love most - or, the ones who make them the most money by successfully promoting their merch! Without ever having to deal with orders, customers, or shipping inventory, partnering on Yoobe is an automatic win-win for both the influencer and designer or artists, who can each leverage Yoobe to grow their portfolios though the simple merchandizing solutions.
Watch Community & Content Manager Dustin Betz speak with CEO Genau Lopes about the origins of Yoobe.
Where Machine Learning Meets Merchandizing
Prior to launching Yoobe, Lopes worked in the computer science field. But he redirected his attention towards business, launching his first company, another mass customization business - this one focused on paper products, but similarly using technologies to personalize products at scale. A few years prior to launching Yoobe, he exited that company, called Joox—but many of the earlier concepts, and Lopes' experience there, clearly help drive Yoobe’s current vision. CEO Lopes explains,
I was watching a YouTube video with my cofounder, and it was a YouTuber with around one million followers, and he was trying to sell his own merch. And he said ‘Hey guys, here’s my T-shirt, designed by myself, sorry for the bad design, but I’d like to sell it--and if you want to buy it, please send me an email, because I can’t create a storefront. It’s too complicated.’
Lopes and his co-founder became very interested at this point, considering the numerous options that existed to setup e-commerce stores. However, doing some more research, they found that these influencers and content creators typically don’t have the skills needed to setup a store, design products, or manage the process once setup. It was then where Lopes moved to San Francisco, joined the Founder Institute, and began pursuing his newest vision for custom merchandizing.
The team’s biggest challenge to date, which turned into a large success, was proving the use-case for scaling their existing merchendizing solutions into the larger Yoobe API. For the proof of concept, Lopes reached out to a large talent agent for influencers--they expressed interest, and wanted to test the concept with Yoobe. Lopes explains,
They sent me two influencers, one had 200,000 followers and the other had 100,000.
The first used to have a storefront, and said they couldn’t manage it, that the results were not ideal. Lopes took up the challenge. Within the first week, the influencer pulled in 900 concept designs.
He accepted about 20 designs, and within the first week he sold about $10,000. It was amazing because we could see that when fans feel connected… it doesn’t matter if it’s a T-shirt or a cap, or any kind of product, they want to participate. That’s why Yoobe is more than a merchandise marketplace, it’s a community.
Yoobe is connected.
Yoobe is easy.
Yoobe is personalized.
Graduates of the Founder Institute are creating some of the world's fastest growing startups, having raised over $800M in funding, and building products people love across over 180 cities worldwide.
See the most recent news from our Grads at FI.co/news, or learn more about their stories at FI.co/journey.