Enabling the rapidly growing number of entrepreneurs and creators in the passion economy
The traditional work-and-life model of the 9-to-5 is on the decline. Over 41% of workers globally are thinking about handing in their notice and in the UK alone, 87% of graduates see freelancing as an attractive lucrative lifestyle & work choice. If anything, the recent Covid lockdowns, and the realisation of the relentless corporate grind that they have shone a light on, has brought about talk of a ‘Great Resignation’ as former employees seek roles & lifestyles more closely aligned to their passions & interests.
Over 45% of Americans and over 30% of Germans have a “side-hustle”. The side hustle is even more popular among millennials with over half of American millennials having a side hustle. The most popular side hustle for Germans is consulting (>16%), and many of the other categories in which Germans side hustle are digital by nature (in a representative study by Godaddy over 10% described their side hustle as music, as text [social media, marketing etc.] and 10% as tutoring).
Today, digital-age entrepreneurs start off in all manners large & small — curating a weekly newsletter, writing an ebook, recording a podcast series, creating courses etc — usually as a complement to their lifestyle and full-time work. And over time, these budding entrepreneurs realise that their particular expertise, knowledge, skills & hobbies, are of significant value & appreciated by the communities that they have built, developed & nurtured — that by turning their interests into a business, they can solely dedicate their time to what they enjoy the most. They form the backbone of what we today call the ‘passion economy, a rapidly growing $38bn market.
The journey from exploring a passion to building a business around it requires entrepreneurs to handle activities that often distract them from where they want to spend their time. The non-trivialities of figuring out how to deliver content to their members, how to build, host & maintain a website; how to collect payment & pay taxes — these are distractions and barriers to the digital entrepreneur. Elopage recognised that all of this “administration” is non-core to many of these entrepreneurs and set out to build a one stop platform to power the passion economy.
Elopage is solving an end-to-end problem for entrepreneurs by delivering a one stop platform for entrepreneurs to create, distribute and monetise content.
Today, Elopage is serving over 35,000 “elopagers”. The team’s vision is to serve over >1m entrepreneurs by 2025, enabling them to solely focus on building a community (& eventually a business) around their core passion: by handling the technical, operational and financial complexities that running an online business usually entails.
We compare Elopage to being the “Shopify” for digital creators. Elopage provides an end-to-end infrastructure for creators to run their business on. The infrastructure is so efficient and self explanatory that ‘elopagers’ can get started selling digital content in less than 3 hours but many of them have built large businesses over time, generating millions of revenues per year.
Why did the passion economy need a new platform and why is it different to e-commerce?
Digital creators have fundamentally different needs to e-commerce sellers: whilst they don’t require logistics for delivering the content (hence allowing for a significantly better margin for creators vs. e-commerce) they have more complicated payment needs (some creators sell on subscriptions etc.), require a different checkout experience, access management and content delivery tools.
Whilst an e-commerce site provided by the likes of Shopify is serving customers for discovery and serves as a point of sale, digital content is delivered on-site so the customer journey really continues after the purchase. Additionally, the content can be delivered in many different ways: through video, photo, text, and also often integrates with social media channels.
Similarly to how we’ve seen e-commerce starting in the early days, marketplaces such as Amazon originally dominated the market. Later, Shopify allowed e-commerce sellers to deliver their own experience, build their own brand and own the customer journey. We believe that the digital content market will follow the same path.
What passion economy entrepreneurs have in common with D2C brands is that they are unique brands. The value is created because it is delivered by that person (in a similar way, a shoe brand provides a unique experience because it is delivered by a specific brand). These digital products are not commoditised goods that are comparable or require a centralised point as a start of the customer journey.
With Elopage the creators continue to own their content and are able to deliver a consistent on-brand experience.
When we first met Ozkan and Tolga the two co-founders of Elopage, we were so impressed by their humility, attention to customer experience and education to build a fair business model that seeks to elevate entrepreneurs rather than monetise off them. There have been endless stories of elopagers who have never sold any digital product and through Elopage became first time entrepreneurs and eventually one of the top entrepreneurs in their vertical. At the same time, Elopage is also serving more established enterprise customers who are serving their community and customers with digital content and products.
Ozkan and Tolga have been running Elopage out of Berlin for five years fully bootstrapped. Both of them have built several other businesses before but with Elopage have skipped all early stage financing, found true product market fit through trial and error, by listening to their customers, and by always providing the best customer support.
Despite having been bootstrapped, they have always had a clear vision to empower millions of entrepreneurs and big ambitions to do so globally.
They have managed to build a community of 40k+ elopage entrepreneurs, who are interacting with both Elopage, their community and Elopage’s offline event (epx19) each year draws nearly 3,000 new and old Elopagers alone.
Our investment in Elopage marks our continued commitment to Berlin and the German ecosystem. Ozkan and Tolga are leading by example with their humbleness, work ethic and endless drive & ambition. We are proud to be working with Elopage as their first venture capital investor together with Avid Ventures and are looking forward to seeing many more first time entrepreneurs’ success powered by Elopage.
Target Global is an international investment firm headquartered in Berlin, with €2bn+ in capital commitments and co-investments. With investment offices in London, Tel Aviv and Barcelona, we connect the key European startup ecosystems and leverage the unique DNA of each of our target geographies, across our global network. Building on our experienced team with substantial operational and investment experience, we help exceptional entrepreneurs to build market leaders. Target Global invests across multiple stages, investing in fast-growing tech companies, targeting trillion € markets. Our Partners have been investing for more than 15 years in the digital technology space, backing some of the key European success stories. The Target Global portfolio includes companies such as Auto1, Docplanner, Delivery Hero, Rapyd, TravelPerk, WeFox and Zego.