Bounty, an online service that helps TikTok creators monetize brand reviews and recommendations, announced today it closed on a $4.7 million seed round led by early-stage consumer tech VC firm M13.
The new service, currently in beta, is designed for everyday TikTok users -- not just professional creators -- who want to earn money by reviewing brands' products.
To sign up, customers enter their phone number on the Bounty website and are sent a list of instructions. Bounty users must first buy an eligible product from one of the partnered brands. After the order is processed and delivered, the customer will receive a special link via text to accept the "Bounty" so they can get paid when they post their video review to TikTok. The creator uploads content with the brand tagged and #bounty in the caption. Bounty will then detect the post and lets the customer know it’s being tracked. The videos also have to be appropriately tagged as "sponsored" per FTC guidelines. Bounty notes.
Reviewers are able to earn up to $10 per every 1,000 views their TikTok content receives and get to keep 100% of their earnings. They are paid for organic views generated in the first 48 hours. The price per view gradually goes down as views go up to ensure a fair return for the creator and the brand, the company explains. So the better the video performs within the first two days, the more the creator gets paid.
Anyone 18 years of age or older with a TikTok account can use Bounty.
The funding will be used to onboard brands from the company's waitlist of 750+ brands. At present, Bounty works with 30 brands, including Jones Road Beauty, BlendJet, Olipop and Doe Lashes.
During beta tests, Bounty worked with around 14,000 creators. The company reports its top creators made around $3,000 per month but didn't share specifics as to how many videos they posted or what an average user would earn.
However, Addie Neri, a TikTok user (@addingtoneri) with a modest following of 19,4000, told Fast Company that she was able to make upward of $560 with one Bounty video. As of May 2022, she’s earned over $3,000 in total from posting about Jones Road Beauty products with the help of Bounty.
Aside from earning money from views, the creator also gets paid when the brand reuses their video in other ways. Brands can view the content created through Bounty's website and can then license it to run as a TikTok Spark Ad -- an ad format that lets advertisers place ad spend on user-generated content to boost it to more viewers. They can also use the video in their other paid marketing efforts.
This is possible because creators are granting Bounty a license to their content as a part of their agreement, allowing Bounty to sublicense the content to the brand on their behalf. The creator retains a license to the content, as well.
Brands pay Bounty a monthly fee, which varies based on platform usage, but starts at $99 a month.
Investors Sugar Capital, Interlace Ventures, as well as founders and executives from Rothy’s, Fabletics and Stack Commerce, among others, participated in the new round, bringing the total amount raised to $6.7 million. The funding will also help fuel hiring plans for Bounty's engineering, design and marketing departments. Early hires are from Google, Sezzle and Dharma.
The Miami-based company was founded in 2021 by Abe Wolke. He hopes that the product will democratize the influencer economy by "giving paying customers the ability to be rewarded if their content is used by the brand and helps the brand grow,” he says.
The old way of doing this was to pay an agency to send influencers free products in hopes of a post. However, this is less effective because it feels like an ad. When a real customer posts content, it comes across as more genuine. Of course, customers who are being paid for their positive reviews of a product aren't necessarily being more truthful than a creator who got the item for free. And the company tells creators negative reviews don't qualify for payouts.
“Celebrities and big-name creators aren’t our focus," explains Wolke. "We’re focused on unlocking the long tail of creator marketing, serving the micro and nano creators -- everyday customers and creators who don’t have an agent or a large audience and otherwise may not get noticed by their favorite brands. That said, anyone who’s a real customer can participate.”
The startup is tapping into brands' growing interest in working with smaller creators. As Insider Intelligence recently reported, “nano” influencer spending (influencers with 1,000-5,000 followers) will rise 220.5% in 2022, while “mega” influencer spending (creators with 1 million+ followers) will grow only 8.0%. In a separate report, the firm noted TikTok ad revenue is expected to triple to $12 billion this year.
Bounty launched into beta this March and claims "growth has been exponential," according to head of engineering Aaron Decker. "A couple of weeks ago, we only had 800 sign-ups a week. Before that, it was only 500 a week," he said.
Now, 1,000 creators sign up per week, the company says.
The startup is poised to publicly launch its service to a wider audience in the weeks ahead. For the time being, Bounty will only work with TikTok users, but it plans to expand to Instagram Reels in the next 12 months. YouTube Shorts and other video platforms will be considered farther down the road.