Growing up in Mexico City, Pamela Valdes says she was a bully as a child, inspired by the stories of other bullies like Bill Gates, whose parents were very successful.
“The stories my parents told me shaped my reality,” she says.
Valdes found that her upbringing was more privileged than others in Mexico and throughout Latin America, she says — people who heard stories about the drug cartels in their town. Those drug lords were usually the most successful people they knew, and for Valdes, that didn’t matter.
So she came up with the idea behind her startup while in college. Bic. in the first iteration, Bic They used tools like YouTube and emojis to create a site and mobile app where people could review the books they were reading.
“I wanted Latinos to feed on better stories, so I created this community around books,” she recalls. “I thought that if I could adjust reading by making it social and monetize e-commerce, more content would come to Spanish.”
It worked, up to a point. Before graduating from Y Combinator, the Mexico City-based company started as a hackathon project in Austin, Texas, where Valdes was studying at the University of Texas. The company went on to raise pre-seed and seed funding from investors such as Greylock and Accel. But over time, Valdes realized that while the product worked well for people eager to engage with book content, it was less effective at getting non-readers to become readers.
So in the year In 2019 – in collaboration with the current Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder, Guillermo, a native of Guatemala. Sequeira – Bic moved to audio. The idea was to give Spanish speakers a way to listen to published content in Spanish, but also to promote unique content produced by creators.
Audio makes more sense, Valdes says, because Latin Americans often have commute times, and for them, listening to content while driving to and from work is especially convenient than reading.
Valdes and Sequeira found that while there are 1.5x more native Spanish speakers than English speakers in the world, the amount of audio content in Spanish is 10x less. Surprisingly, there are only 25,000 Spanish audiobooks and 100,000 Spanish podcasts available.
Seizing the opportunity they spied on, Bic — which had previously raised $2 million in seed funding — soon raised an additional $5 million in a single round. The company That money raised in 2019 should look like a smart investment in hindsight. In the past two years, Beck has seen its paying subscriber base grow 18x, Valdes says. Meanwhile, she says, 35% of content creators on Bick’s marketplace earn more than their local minimum wage in their first month. “We didn’t expect it, but suddenly we became a huge revenue model for creators,” she told TechCrunch. “They’re starting to launch mainstream content like mini audiobooks and other content in audio.”
She says the model makes sense for everyone involved. She said that on other platforms like Instagram or Tik Tok, a creator needs a large number of followers to earn a small amount of money. On Bik, you can generate recurring passive income with just a few listeners. Creators are responsible for over 70% of user acquisition, as many of them attract subscribers and benefit from a revenue share agreement with Bik – saving the startup money on marketing costs.
In the case of Bic listeners, it’s more economical to pay $12 per month for a single subscription to get unlimited access to multiple creators – e.g. Haru Escarcega, Roro Echavez, Regina carrot And Marguga – Instead of paying for access individually. today, 60% of Bic users are from Mexico, 10% are US-based Hispanics and 30% are from other parts of Latin America.
To capitalize on its growth momentum, Bic is announcing today that it has raised an additional $13 million in Series A funding led by Mercedes-Benz. Partner by Lightspeed Venture Partners. It’s interesting that Bent — whose investments have historically focused on consumer fintech and crypto — is drawn to a company outside of her usual focus.
For a few reasons, the company found her very important.
For one, Bent is naturally drawn to the company’s year-over-year earnings growth (8x on investment). But she was also drawn to her team’s ability to use their mentors in a way that most other startups don’t.
“They’ve really been able to draw seniors into their orbit and work with them every day,” said Bent, who is joining Bic’s board as part of her company’s investment.
example, Casey Winters, Pinterest’s head of growth and Eventbrite’s chief product officer, is joining the board after serving as an advisor to the company since its early days.
“Another unusual feature is the founders’ ability to define which levers to push to manage different KPIs – they had a good understanding of leading and lagging indicators, how to build a growth engine, and how to create network effects,” Bent added. I haven’t seen this level of command of business KPIs in post-Series B founders and they were seed founders who taught the entire team to speak this language.
For Valdes, Bent’s investment isn’t as out of left field as it might first seem.
“She invests in fintech, but not just because of fintech – her thesis is motivation. So she supports products that inspire people, and that’s what Beck is working to do,” she told TechCrunch.
Existing backers Greylock and Asel also participated in the final round, as did OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Figma CEO Dylan Field, Duolingo CPO Jorge Mazal, Sebastián Mejia, founder of Rapi, and Alfonso de los Rios, CEO of Nowports. Motivational speaker Tony Robbins has invested through his company IdealabX. “Many” creators active on the platform also invested in the round, including Lorraine OchoaMexican World Golf Champion and Trava bearAccording to Valdes.
A sustainable model
Economically, Valdes believes Bic’s choice of a marketplace model has proven more profitable than if it had chosen to become a media company.
“We have a network effect between listeners and creators that media companies don’t have,” she said. “In the long run, this will create a better and more sustainable business model to be a ‘super app’ for audio than if we tried to produce it ourselves.”
Ultimately, though, the business is driven by more than money—it’s her passion to help Latin Americans achieve their dreams.
“Most of the content consumed is around self-help, personal development and business,” she told TechCrunch. “It is not entertainment content. It is not fictional content. It’s actually content that gives them great opportunities to dream. This is why we live. We are smart. We are hard workers. We have so many opportunities and possibilities… we just need a better narrative in our minds to dream of bigger opportunities. So that’s what we want to do – build a better Latin American dream.
Currently, BIC has 51 employees. It plans to use the new capital to build more tools to produce content at scale, “so creators can launch more content on the platform while ensuring the experience is highly engaging for listeners.”
“People will continue to watch El Chapo on Netflix if we don’t give them a much better experience,” Valdes said. “So we have to make Beck addicted. We need to get people addicted to good content that helps them improve their lives.
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