Hype Launches With $10M to Support Entrepreneurial Content Creators

Formerly known as Pico, the NYC-based startup now offers 11 pre-made kits that meet the diverse needs of content creators.
Written by Jeff Rumage
April 5, 2023Updated: April 5, 2023
Hype co-founder and CEO Nick Chen poses for a photo with his head resting in his hand
Hype co-founder and CEO Nick Chen. | Photo: Hype

Nine years ago, Nick Chen and his team set out to create a platform that would help small media outlets capture revenue from digital audiences. That platform, which was called Pico, eventually widened its focus to help content creators of all types better engage their audience, monetize their clout and circumvent algorithms that limit their reach.

Content creators are no longer limited to Twitch streamers and Instagram influencers, though. Small business owners of all types — anyone from physical trainers to Etsy designers — are creating content to share their expertise and bring in new customers.

To better reflect this new dynamic, Pico relaunched on Wednesday as Hype and rolled out new product offerings. The company also announced it raised $10 million in Series A funding.

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With Hype, creators can use their phones to quickly set up websites or landing pages that they can link to on their social media profiles. With this offering, creators can gather their followers’ phone numbers to send them text messages about new content, products or other announcements. These websites and landing pages also allow creators to link to other social channels and offer subscriptions that provide premium content and other perks. Subscription revenue can be processed directly through Hype’s platform, according to the company.

Hype is also expanding on its existing solutions with the introduction of 11 pre-made Hype Kits. These kits offer features that meet the needs of a diverse spectrum of content creators, including musicians, photographers, artists and coaches.

Chen told Built In that Hype provides entrepreneurs with easy, mobile-friendly tools that allow them to execute a marketing campaign on the fly. In one example, Chen said a content creator on Hype sent a quick text message to all of their followers about an event happening that evening. In another example, Chen said one of Hype’s users, a cocktail mixologist, sent a text message to all of their followers about a new cocktail recipe they just published.

“Hype Kits represent our latest and best attempt to create personalized, customized experiences that are more tailored to individual use cases. ... We in tech have to do a better job speaking to creators and recognizing their uniqueness,” Chen said. “I’m not going to present my tools to a personal trainer the same way I would to a mixologist.”

Since 2016, creators and entrepreneurs have earned more than $30 million in revenue from Hype’s platform. They have also collected four million email and phone contacts from their followers, according to Hype.

Led by King River Capital, the Series A funding brings Hype’s total funds raised to $22 million. With the new capital, Chen said Hype will continue to advance its product while exploring new partnerships and acquisition opportunities.

“I think we’re hitting an inflection point where VCs want to see how any one of these [creator economy] companies can actually become a $1 billion company or a $10 billion company,” Chen said. “How’s that going to happen? You’ve got to start thinking bigger, and this is where the creator economy and the small business economy are converging. I fully believe that Hype can get there alone, but I also believe that we can get there faster by bringing some others along for the ride.”

Hype currently employs 20 people from around the world. The company has an office by Union Square in NYC.

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