Read the Notion pitch document e-commerce startup Whop used to raise its $17 million Series A
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- Whop is a marketplace where creators and users can buy and sell digital goods.
- The e-commerce startup announced in July a $17 million Series A.
- Here’s an exclusive look at the Notion document used by the startup during its fundraising process.
Steven Schwartz, CEO and cofounder of digital goods marketplace Whop, met his cofounder Cameron Zoub in a Facebook group for sneaker resellers.
“In middle school, you were really cool if you had cool shoes,” Schwartz, 23, told Insider. “The only way to get really cool shoes was to make these weird pieces of software called sneaker bots.”
The two began building and selling their own sneaker bots on forums like Facebook, Reddit, Discord, and Twitter, Schwartz said. Years later, they met Whop’s eventual third cofounder, Jack Sharkey, who had been doing the same thing.
Fast-forward nearly a decade, Schwartz, Zoub, and Sharkey evolved their experiences of buying and selling software into Whop, which now lets users buy and sell everything from private communities to courses to custom software like analytics platforms or trading tools.
“We’re building Whop for the 15-year-old version of ourselves,” Schwartz said.
Whop just announced its $17 million Series A led by Insight Partners, per the company, which included participation from Peter Thiel, Justin Mateen, The Chainsmokers, and creators-turned-VCs Josh Richards and Griffin Johnson.
With the latest round of funding, the company plans to expand its product and hire several roles, including a head of sales, designers, and engineers.
Content creators have long utilized digital goods as a way to make money and provide their audiences with content and tools. For instance, many creators teach online courses on platforms like Kajabi or Teachable; many sell digital goods like workflow templates and editing presets, too.
Although fundraising in the creator economy has slowed over the last several quarters, Schwartz sees Whop as a pivot in the space.
“Historically, the creator economy, at least up until maybe a year and a half ago, has been pictures and text content,” Schwartz said. “What we’re really bullish on is the creator economy becoming more utility-driven and offering products that people actually gain a lot more value from than just text content.”
Schwartz said Whop is focused on the consumer more than the creator, which he believes has been overemphasized by startups in the space.
“It’s one thing to approach it from the creator lens, but I think that now it’s more important than ever to approach it from the consumer lens because the consumers are the ones that actually sustain the creators,” he said. “And if you’re building a creator economy startup, you can’t do that without obsessing about not just the creator, but the actual consumer who’s purchasing the creator’s products.”
Instead of creating a fancy pitch deck to send off to investors, Whop’s team built a deck using productivity software Notion.
“I actually remember trying to build a deck and we just were not having it, it was so hard for us,” Schwartz said. “It looked like shit.”
Zoub, Whop’s cofounder and chief product officer, suggested using Notion instead, Schwartz said.
“At first I was like, that’s a horrible idea. No one will take us seriously,” he said. “But it worked out well. It was easy to lay out a table of contents and everything made sense.”
The team’s Notion document outlines everything a pitch deck would, including charts, customer case studies, and an analysis of the market and competition.
“At the end of the day, people — and investors especially— really just value clarity and concise communication whether it’s written on a notepad or a deck,” Schwartz said.
Check out the Notion document Whop used to raise its $17 million Series A:
Note: The document Whop shared with Insider includes several redactions.
Whop begins its Notion deck with a brief company overview.
The document begins:
Whop is a marketplace where people can buy access to digital products. We are building the Amazon for the Metaverse.
Creators need an organized way to collect payments for their products, and don’t know how to get in front of their first users. Additionally, consumers do not have a central trustworthy location to browse these digital products.
An online marketplace giving buyers a seamless shopping experience and providing creators a safe place for their products to be sold, managed, and programmatically fulfilled.
Whop outlines the traction its platform has had.
In a highly redacted slide, Whop breaks down data about:
- Gross merchandise value (GMV) run rate
- Number of accounts created
- Number of active subscriptions on the platform
- Number of users on Whop with a subscription. “A large proportion of our GMV is recurring,” the slide reads.
- Average transaction size
- Amount of products available on the platform
A chart demonstrating Whop’s GMV shows an upward trend.
Then the company outlines its active users and includes a customer case study.
Customer Case Study
Whop.com creator perspective:
Elliot wants to sell access to his software online but doesn’t have the tools to do so. He has a clear demand for the product he’s built, but he’s having to manually send out invoices, download links, has no users on a recurring subscription, and lacks discoverability for new users.
Elliot then finds Whop. Within minutes, he has his entire company integrated with Whop and is ready to start gaining users. Whop will now handle all payment processing, user management, product fulfillment, and more, handled automatically for him. Elliot can now focus solely on his product while knowing Whop will handle the rest.
Whop includes more details about customer earnings and experience.
Whop includes a screenshot of creator’s earnings dashboard from Whop, demonstrating how a creator earned $48,000 since joining in September.
Here’s what the rest of the slide says:
End user perspective:
[Redacted user] is a curious individual who wants to learn more about trading Crypto. He has heard the cryptocurrency hype and knows that there is someone out there who is well-versed in the space, but does not know how to find them.
[Redacted user] is browsing on Whop and comes across company called that sells access to a premium trading community. [Redacted user] has a deep interest in trading and wants to learn more about cryptocurrencies. By purchasing, he will be programmatically added to obtain access to the TradingView indicators, and instantly reap the benefits of the group’s collective knowledge.
The document outlines the market size.
Here’s what the slide reads:
- 50 Million Creators — This includes individuals who are content creators, curators, and community builders. Of these 50 million, 46.7 million of these creators are beginners, lacking the tools necessary to launch their product.
- [Redacted] has handled more than $10 billion in sales since the start of 2021.
- [Redacted] hosts more than six million monthly active subscribers, with 200,000+ creators.
- 10M+ products have been posted onto [redacted]
- As of September 2021 [redacted]
Whop then breaks down its strategy.
The slide reads:
1. Create a way for companies to manage their digital businesses and easily process payments by providing them with a Shopify like solution with automated fulfillment
2. Increase processing volume by attracting companies through the use of no fees, discoverability, an app store, crypto payments, and more. View full features list here: Feature List
3. Enhance buyer experience by offering them a guided shopping experience displaying product categories in an Amazon-like format.
4. Increase speed in adding new markets that attract new buyers while also catering to our current user base, giving them more products to purchase.
5. Harness what we have already provided to users and give them access to the future emerging digital products that will [redacted]
Whop users are early adopters [redacted]. Whop will continue to grow with the indusry [redacted].
Then, the deck goes into competition.
Whop lists platforms like Shopify, Amazon, and Steam as competition.
Whop outlines the competition and what it offers in comparison in a chart.
The document includes a quadrant chart to visualize the competition.
The quadrant axis are as follows:
- Left: Low discoverability
- Right: High discoverability
- Top: Digital products
- Bottom: Physical products
The rest of the slide reads:
a. Most other creator payment gateways force the creator to send users to their website and purchase; it is not easy for users to “stumble” upon digital products.
Whop continues its competitive advantages.
[Cont. from previous slide]
a. Creators who have a high demand for their product/community can now reap the benefits of aftermarket transactions.
3. Platform customer support for buyers
a. If consumers are unsatisfied / confused with their purchase, the current market options require them to confront the creator directly, leading to a surplus of redundant customer support queries that could be better answered in a central location (Whop Customer Service).
4. Delivery of Digital Products
a. Downloadable Software Delivery – After purchase, the buyer is prompted to download the creator’s software and input a custom license key to activate the software. The software creator is provided with API endpoints connecting to the Whop database to tell the creator if they should or should not allow the user to operate their software (considering their payment subscription status).
5. User Radar
a. Whop has an automated algorithm that automatically verifies every new user’s social accounts who signs up to ensure they are a legitimate human. Once an individual passes our automated process, we have a team manually review each account.
b. Creators can require additional verification tailored to their needs on top of the Whop vetting process. For instance, a creator can require SMS verification before purchasing a product.
7. User Relationships
a. Every company selling on Whop with more than one active subscription has a dedicated account manager to talk to everyday for insights on feature requests, bug reports, and day to day journey of selling digital goods.
The Notion document ends with a brief description of the team.
This slide reads:
Team — Finish
- Steven Schwartz – CEO | Steven is 23 years old and has been programming and building web apps since 14. Steven has a degree from NYU
- Cameron Zoub – CPO | Cameron is 22 years old and has been working full time on his own companies since he was 14. He dropped out of high school when he was 16 to pursue companies full-time.
- Jack Sharkey – CTO | Jack is 22 years old and was a senior at the University of Texas majoring in Computer Science before dropping out to work on Whop full time.
Jack has been building apps and websites since he was 15
- Jackson Huether – Business Operations / Growth | Jackson is 19 years old and was a sophomore at Duke majoring in computer science before taking a leave of absence to work on Whop
In addition to the core team above, we have four customer service representatives who have handled over 100,000 support messages with a median response time of 3 minutes.
Note: We currently work out of a hacker house in Brooklyn, NY, where Steven, Cameron, Jack, Jackson, [redacted] live and work full time.
Investors & Fundraising History:
The final page is also redacted.
This redacted slide describes Whop’s investors and fundraising history.