Just three months after launching, fan pledge site Patreon has landed nearly $2.1 million in financing from venture firms and angels.
Freestyle Capital led the venture round, which also included investments from Charles River Ventures, Atlas Venture, Rothenberg Ventures and SV Angel. In addition, the tiny Menlo Park, Calif., startup received angel funding from Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, angel investor Tyler Willis and Y Combinator partner Garry Tan.
Founded by musician Jack Conte and serial entrepreneur Sam Yam, Patreon lets fans contribute as little as $1 in order to become patrons of the arts. The site is processing about $100,000 of pledges per month on behalf of 2,300 artists who use Patreon. Although many are musicians, a melange of illustrators, photographers, game developers, graphic designers and video creators have also piled into Patreon’s platform to raise money. “We originally had musicians and YouTube creators in mind, but it’s become a tool for anybody who’s creating stuff,” Conte says. “There are all sorts of communities using Patreon that I had no idea existed.”
Fans can donate as little as $1 for every song or video an artist produces. If the artist creates six videos per year, a fan donating $1 per work would give $6 annually. Fans pay nothing if the artist doesn’t release any work. The idea is to provide a revenue stream for artists who aren’t creating large, flashy projects for Kickstarter campaigns, but slowly crank out one video, song or comic on a regular basis.
Conte, a 29-year-old independent musician who is also half of the band Pomplamoose, developed the idea as a way to supplement the income from ads on his original YouTube videos. He and Yam, roommates during their freshman year at Stanford University, built the site and launched it in May. As of July 31, Conte’s own Patreon page showed that he had 835 patrons who collectively pledged to give him $6,171 for every music video he produces.