- 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 co-founder of digital goods marketplace Whop, met his co-founder 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 the third co-founder of Whop, Jack Sharkey, who was doing the same thing.
Fast forward nearly a decade, Schwartz, Zoub, and Sharkey transformed their experience of buying and selling software into Whop, which now allows users to buy and sell everything from private communities to courses to custom software such as analytics platforms or trading tools.
“We’re building a 15-year-old version of Whop for ourselves,” Schwartz said.
Whop announced its $17 million Series A led by Insight Partners, per the company, which includes 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 a number of roles, including head of sales, designers and engineers.
Content creators have long used digital goods as a way to make money and provide content and tools to their audience. For example, many creators teach online courses on platforms like Kajabi or Teachable; Many also sell digital goods such as workflow templates and editing presets.
While fundraising in the creator economy has slowed in recent quarters, Schwartz sees Whop as a pivot in the space.
“Historically, the creator economy was, at least up until maybe a year and a half ago, pictures and text content,” said Schwartz. “What we’re really excited about is that the creator economy becomes more driven by utility and offering products that people actually get more value from than just text content.”
Schwartz said Whop is focused on the consumer more than the creator, which he believes startups in the space overemphasize.
“It is one thing to approach it from the lens of the creator, but I think that now it is more important than ever to approach it from the lens of the consumer because the consumers are the ones who actually feed the creators,” he said. “And if you’re building a startup creator economy, you can’t do that without obsessing about not only the creator, but the actual consumer who’s buying the creator’s products.”
Instead of creating a fancy pitch deck to send to investors, the Whop team built a deck using Notion’s productivity software.
“I remember really trying to build a deck and not only did we have it, it was so difficult for us,” said Schwartz. “It looked like shit.”
Zoub, Whop’s co-founder and chief product officer, suggested using Notion instead, Schwartz said.
“At first I was like, that’s a terrible idea. No one will take us seriously,” he said. “But it worked out well. It was easy to lay out the table of contents and everything made sense.”
The team’s Notion document lays out everything a pitch deck would do, including charts, customer case studies, and market and competition analysis.
“At the end of the day, people – and investors in particular – just value clarity and precise communication whether it’s written on a notebook or on a deck,” Schwartz said.
Check out the Notion document that Whop used to raise its $17 million Series A:
Note: The Whop document shared with Insider contains some redactions.