Creator Kit Episode 09: VOLV's Brent Totty on How To Control Your Destiny
In this week's episode, we talk with the CEO & founder of VOLV about how creators can make a sustainable living with subscription products.
Each episode of Creator Kit is a deep dive on a particular tool or service that can help you take your creator business to the next level. Creator Kit is presented by HiBeam: we solve comment and DM overload for creators; follow HiBeam on Twitter and subscribe on YouTube for more great content.
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Brent is the founder of VOLV, a behavior change digital product for the Creator Economy.
On today’s show we talk about how creators can engage with technology companies, why consistency is the secret ingredient to success, and how creators can control their own destiny by adopting subscription business models.
Here are some of our favorite takeaways from the conversation:
1. Grab a seat at the tech table
There are many companies building for mid-size creators and they all want your input; being a creator means having a seat at the table and getting involved.
"Every technology company that's focused on helping the creator economy wants your input. No matter how small or how big, it doesn't matter. Like this idea of the top 2% of the creator economy generating 95% of the overall value...that's changing. This middle economy creator is really gonna become something, it's going to be a force to be reckoned with."
2. Subscriptions pay
For creators, subscription based business models mean investing in recurring revenue and earning a more predictable living.
"I think for the Creator Economy to really take off...it's gonna require people to be able to lean in and turn this into their way of supporting their life...you can build a subscription based service that drives predictable revenue, keeps people engaged for long periods of time."
3. Audience relationships are gold
For creators, an audience relationship creates a feedback loop that can help you build a long term business.
"You should be building 1, 2, 3, 4 year relationships with your followers...they're gonna be voicing different concerns that they might have, or different things that they want to achieve. And that type of data, direct from a customer, is really difficult to get. All of a sudden, you start to see a pattern. It's like, "maybe I'll start creating content specific to what some of my paying users want instead of what is driving engagement on the algorithm on Instagram or YouTube." It starts to shift the power towards the creator, giving them more knowledge, giving them the opportunity to create revenue and own their own destiny."
Brent on Instagram
Brent on Twitter
Brent's current favorite creator: Mary Shenouda - @paleochef
This is Creator Kit, HiBeam’s podcast series on the tools that help creators thrive. If you enjoyed the conversation and don’t want to miss future episodes, just hit subscribe on iTunes, stream on Spotify, or plug our RSS feed in your player of choice. You can also read the full transcript of the interview, which has been lightly edited for clarity, below.
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Jesse Clemmens: Brent, thanks for coming on the show.
Brent Totty: Hey, Jesse, pleasure to be here.
Jesse Clemmens: How are you?
Brent Totty: Hey, doing well. It's a Monday, lots of fun stuff going on in work world and, uh, lots of exciting things we've got coming down the pipeline. So doing well.
Jesse Clemmens: Awesome. And you are dialing in from LA I believe, is that right?
Brent Totty: Yeah. Down, down in Orange County, but over on the West Coast.
Jesse Clemmens: Right on. Awesome. Pleased to have you on the show today. We've talked with a number of different founders of different creator economies of basically all types, and VOLV is certainly a unique one that resonates with me from a past life working on, uh, a multi-day program startup. And I'm not sure if that's how you would describe VOLV, but let's start with, a, kind of like top level description of the platform and what it achieves for creators. Then I'd love to hear about your kind of founder story in moving into this area and working on VOLV specifically, and then we can get into details on the platform, if that sounds good.
Brent Totty: Yeah, that sounds perfect. So essentially VOLV is an automated coaching platform for content creators in the health, wellness, personal, and professional development spaces. And, you know, what's really unique and interesting about what it is that we do is that we believe that there's a lot of potential in creators existing content. So we're not really forcing creators to go and create their own courses, we think that there's a lot of value that already is, is embedded in the things that they've created, but it's kind of lacking a little bit of structure. And so what we've created is this opportunity to be able to translate all of their existing content into skills-based programs that they can deliver to their audiences via text.
And what's also very unique about the way that we look at this is that there is a certain level of automation or AI, and that's there's a little bit of AI that we've built into the platform that makes it so that the pain points, the things that creators struggle with that aren't really the best use of their time are completely automated, yet it still enables a creator to be able to drive personal value by responding to specific questions that any of their audience members or clients might have, kind of like an AMA style, like, "Hey, I've got a question about some of the recommendations you're making," and a creator can come back and respond to them. So there still is this one-to-one connection, but it allows for a creator to be able to scale the amount of clients that they can truly serve in a more one-to-one fashion than kind of like a learn on your own pace as like a course.
So it drives this opportunity for their end users to be able to engage in these skills-based programs, things that are actually actionable that can change their lives and improve their lives for the better, gives them this opportunity to engage in skills, engage with a creator that they truly trust, and to be able to form habits long-term. There's a few different things just in the way that, that we look at content that's just a little bit different. It's look at it as a long game. We look at it as really being able to drive change in a day in and day out, like, what does that process of, of adherence really look like?
And, you know, with the different end-users that we've been talking with, and a lot of the different creators that we have on the platform, this pain point of there's not enough time in the day, I don't really have time to create all these programs, I don't have this time to be able to, to follow all these instructions and do all these different things and be self motivated, I think that at our core, our competency is really about the efficiency of time, both for an end-user and a creator.
Jesse Clemmens: Super cool. Super cool. I wanna get into the specifics in a moment, but let's start quickly with your background. How did you come to found VOLV? I know you have some background in the health and wellness space if I'm right?
Brent Totty: Yep. So right out of college I actually started at a healthcare finance AI company. Very, very small tech team. I was like hire number 12. So I got to kind of feel that like startup energy and vibe, it was like, it was kind of intoxicating. I was so excited, I was like 20. So like, I didn't know what I was doing, the, the founder took a chance on me and, and gave me an opportunity to kind of learn the skillset. And I didn't really have a whole lot of background in tech at that point, I was just interested in it. So I learned a little bit about AI systems, a little bit about like database architecture and structure. And I started to see an opportunity to be able to, to leverage those skills that I learned and pair them with my passion of health and wellness.
So after I stopped working at that company, I started working as a personal trainer. I was also a digital nutritional consultant. So I had a lot of digital clients that I was working with, and I was also a private chef. So I was working with clients kind of through the entire trajectory of their health and wellness journey. And then the last little kind of kicker on that is I was also writing a lot of recipe content and health and wellness content for big brands. So I saw this very unique opportunity to be able to mesh together the human experience of habit formation and behavior change with the potential of what content could be doing.
So, right, like the way that people tend to consume content, maybe they give it a few minutes, they're like, "Oh, that's a good idea. I'm inspired," and then it kind of falls flat. That's like why social media isn't a great place for behavior change. It's a great place for like a spark of interest or discovery, but anything beyond that, it really kind of falls flat. So when I started pairing together these ideologies of like, I care a lot about health and wellness, I care a lot about people up skilling, how do you, how do you just like constantly progress? How do you consistently treat yourself as an experiment where you're just constantly leveling up, combined with the content that they're consuming, but not really getting enough out of? And then you put the framework that I learned in my initial company of like, all right, there's a way to structure all of this together to start to build a drip automation system to get people to change their behaviors, that's when it really, about three years ago, I was like, there's something really here.
And I went to go and raise a little bit of capital to build that first MVP, started down that path, had a few big clients up front. And then what we really started to see as the Creator Economy started to blossom is like, wow, they're actually... It's not just these publishers, it's not just these big brands, there's actually an opportunity to help the individuals that have niche specific things in communities that they're really trying to teach, where we could leverage this, this ability to scale the voice of a creator to hundreds and thousands of people, instead of, you know, corralling it into this, like you can have maybe 10, 15 clients at once. And that, that's really where we saw the opportunity. Like my background was just this, this giant trajectory towards the realization that the Creator Economy actually holds the key to being able to drive behavior change for the rest of the world.
And it's because there's that personal relationship. It's not just like, hey, I'm getting, uh, a notification from men's health and fitness, or I'm getting notification from like my company that's trying to teach me how to be a better like sales manager, it's coming from people that you actually learn from. And that's where I think that, that was like the big turn, the big aha moment of like the technology that we built, this blossoming economy that's starting to, to really come into its own and enabling those that are in that economy to understand their worth and their impact. That to me, was this, this like perfect storm that has set us off on the path that we're on right now.
Jesse Clemmens: So cool. One thing that came to mind as you were describing the, you know, some of the existing tools that are out there and some of the, the gaps that you saw that you guys are looking to fill as, and I think you used sort of a magazine example. But right now, like even a couple of years ago, it seems like there was two extremes. You basically had like aspirational content, which was consuming what we, you know, historically thought of as like influencer lifestyle content, and then all the way down at the other end was probably mostly YouTube workout stuff like actually doing the workout. Some of that has transformed into probably this new, the next gen of technology enabled workouts, like Pel, the Peloton experience comes to mind.
Somewhere in the middle recently, I guess, two years ago or so Masterclass started coming up with this more like lean back aspirational experience of learning, where you're digesting a bunch of really top level information from your couch, you know, you're not necessarily out in the field while you're watching the, the gardening show, you're consuming it as edutainment almost.
Brent Totty: Yeah. I like that.
Jesse Clemmens: And now you guys have this interesting position that's much more towards the like practical application, but that isn't entirely like handcuffed to the moment of working out, right? Like, so can you help us orient where you sit in this kind of like on the scale of what I was describing on like how a user would experience the VOLV platform and a program that is published by one of your creators?
Brent Totty: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that's a really interesting, like almost sliding scale. And I think that content before is a little bit polarizing. You had the inspirational, and then you had like the to-do list style content. And it was like, it was like, these are the different in the context of working out, these are different sets and reps you have to do, and this is how you follow through on doing it. And I think that there's this gray area in between that just the way that humans build habits and, and change behaviors is that it starts on this inspirational side and you've got all this opportunity to be able to like really kick off, like, what's the why behind your change, what's the reason why you want to do it, what are the foundational skills that you really need?
But I think where, you know, like a Masterclass or like any of the course related companies that are out there where creators are publishing those, those kind of learn on your own courses, is like, what happens after that course is consumed? Is it actually put into practice? How often are you checking in on that person? How often are they actually achieving the things that they set out to do? And that's really where we're targeted. There's a space for both inspirational and the to-do list content in the VOLV ecosphere, and we wanna merge those two together. And if you think about how an end-user is going to perceive value, it's they need to be inspired first, then they need to be given a list of things to do, then they need to be checked in with, and then there's another feedback loop of like, did you attain the thing that you actually set out to do?
If yes, move on to quote unquote like the next module or the next skill, if not, repeat and continue on, and then you have the opportunity to be able to engage with the course creator of like, these are my specific issues that I'm going through. And so if you want to dig in like really deep on that last section of like, what happens in that like area, of like a lot of content is very generalized, and we're starting to see it like break down into specific niches. But like everyone has their own individual relationship with the different things that they're trying to achieve, and oftentimes all it takes is like one question to someone that you trust and, and believe in to say like, "Hey, this is the experience that I'm going through, can you give me some insight?" And that's what isn't really available. Like you go Masterclass and it's like, you can't really chat with a direct with any of those creators because they're so high level.
And then if you've got the, you know, just the standard YouTube content where it's like I'm going to do this workout, like, but actually have some questions, like there's membership courses now that are starting to be attached on top of YouTube. And you do have some option to be able to chat with some of those creators, but I think that there's, there's this gray area that needs, it's almost like, uh, an opportunity gap between inspiration and action with a touch of human response, that allows for there to be a much more effective habit formation, behavior change opportunity for an end-user that feels more personal.
And what we've actually... So like something that I'm really excited about right now, too, so like, I've been starting to... I'm personally, I'm, I'm training for a half marathon right now. Never been a runner, always been a gym rat. Like it's just not really been my thing. And one of my other buddies just was like, "Hey, I'm going to do this. I'm challenging you to do it." And I'm like, "Okay, great. Like, let's, let's create like a little like group text chain." I was like, well, if I were to think about it, like, do I have some skills that I might be able to, to offer up to this group as we're starting to go through the process of training for this half? And I'm like, yeah, of course. Like, so I built out a nutrition skill stack and I, I built out some hydration related stuff. And I was like, you know what? Like all of us are old, like my knees hurt while we're running, [laughs] like, there's probably someone in my community that I know that can help us with some mobility.
So I tapped one of my creator buddies and I was like, "Hey dude, like, I've got an opportunity here where it's like, there's a group of like six of us would love for you to like share some content. All of our knees hurt, like what can you do?" And he sent us over a bunch of content. I added that into the group. I added it onto my like VOLV page. And so now there's like a central hub of supporting content in the context of what someone wants to do, and then there's also this new thing, which we really haven't really dug into a whole lot, but I'm really excited about we may end up doing this, where you've got people that are like-minded going through and trying to achieve the same outcome where you have this group mentality combined with creator expertise, and then you have the drip notifications coming in, reminding people to do the things that are in line with where they're supposed to be going.
And that like to me, is like the ultimate level, that like third level of how someone really is gonna dive into where do I land on the spectrum? And my answer is you start here, you slide over here, and then you come up here for a little bit, get some actual like live feedback, and then come back in here, rinse and repeat. And if you could do that enough times, I mean, habits and behavior change is all about repetition, you get enough wins underneath your belt. And again, these are like small little micro wins, like waking up in the morning and drinking a certain amount of water. If you're in a professional development class, it's like, you know, making sure that you're doing X, Y, and Z to like, if you're working on leadership, it's like checking in with people that you're working with that you gave a project to, and making sure that you're supporting them. The things that all of us forget to do, because life just gets in the way, there's an opportunity for all those different types of communication styles to be bundled together, and I think that that's really what's special about VOLV.
Jesse Clemmens: Really awesome. And I know that I would agree with you. I'm a firm believer in consistency being the key to, key to success in, in many different fields. You had described the professional development sort of use case and application. Are you guys like allowing general use cases or are you guys focused on health and wellness creators to start? How does all that play out?
Brent Totty: Yeah, so we actually, I mean, because of my background, we started in health and wellness 'cause I understood the frameworks. I had the community and the connections to creators that I could like bounce ideas off of. So that's where we started, but we're really starting to see is that this is actually general application technology and the, I would call it like the filter is, is actionability. Like how actionable is your content? How much can you really drive someone to do? And how, how well is it broken down into like steps that someone can achieve and then skills that they can use in order to get to a certain outcome. So it's, it's still a little loose when, you know, as we're going out and cold outreaching to creators, we're looking for certain types of things. And that's kind of like that, that's the magic button.
It's like, if you can find someone that's got a dense amount of content, that clearly cares about a specific outcome or a specific skill, they understand their niche to be able to go and, and go to that person and say, "Hey, you've got an opportunity to be able to take all the content that's sitting on your feed right now and turn that into not only passive revenue streams, but also highly impactful programs. And you don't have to do anything. It's like, just submit your, your URLs to us. We do all the magic in the background to configure it into a program. And then you just go around and start enabling your followers to be able to engage in the specific things that they wanna achieve." And so that's where like you start off in health and wellness, but if you think about it, like taking care of your body is just a foundational pillar towards personal professional success.
You also need those soft skills. You also need those, the skills that are gonna make you successful in whatever you're, you're striving towards in business. If you're not taking care of yourself on a physical level, it's just not gonna really translate into you being able to, to drive the impact that you want.
Jesse Clemmens: Right. Okay. So if I'm a creator and I have a bunch of existing content, I know this is one of the major pieces of value for your platform to creator. So I have a ton of existing content out there. Maybe I'm a nutritionist or a dog trainer or anything that where there's like multiple days of activity that I, uh, I, as a user would need to complete to achieve an end desired result. I have all this content out there. Maybe I'm making money via ads on YouTube. Um, maybe I do some sponsored posts. Where does VOLV fit in? How does that content become these more structured multi-day programs or paths? I'm not sure which word you use to describe it.
Brent Totty: Totally. So the process for a creator is as easy as send us your content. We analyze it, we break it up, we turn it into those daily drip programs. We break it up by skill. And then we say, we come back to you and say, "Hey, these are all your programs. If you'd like to adjust any of them, like we made it sound like you, but like you can add your own personal touch and flare to it. We've already attached all your content." So again, this is one of those things where we're not trying to, to be the place where everyone goes to, to find content, we're the interconnection tool. So it's like, if you've got a YouTube video, like we're gonna link directly out to your YouTube video and drive more views over there. You know, if you're looking for more engagement on like Instagram, or like, you know, on your newsletter, like we're gonna be sending people to all the places that you want them to be able to go.
So again, it really is about just submitting it over to us. We reformat it and then we hand it back over to the creator and then we give them the opportunity to go out and to promote that directly to their audience. And we have a customer success team that helps with marketing and, and really wants to, to make sure that this is getting out to the right people in the right ways. Because so much of what we care about as a business, beyond just the impact for an end user, is about creators treating themselves as small businesses. Like they have the opportunity to build just like long-term predictable revenue. It's no longer this like fast and fe- famine style thing where it's like, well, I've got all these sponsored posts for September, but like, come October, like I'm dry and I'm not gonna make any money. Like, what am I supposed to do?
And I think a lot of that is what holds up people out from being full-time content creators and it's always this like side hustle economy. And I think for the Creator Economy to really take off the way that I think that we all know that it's going to, it's gonna require people to be able to lean in and truly to, to turn this into their way of, of supporting their life. And so that's, that's really where I think that we come in is that there's this opportunity to say, you can build a subscription based service that drives predictable revenue, keeps people engaged for long periods of time. You don't have to change your behavior, keep creating the great content that you already do. You just keep submitting that over to us. It'll get added into your programs.
We'll create some new ones for you and over time, really what should happen is it, you should be building 1, 2, 3, 4 year relationships with your followers that you're giving them all the skills that they're gonna want over time. They're gonna be voicing different concerns that they might have or different things that they want to achieve. And that type of data direct from a customer is really difficult to get. All of a sudden, you start to see a pattern it's like, great, maybe I'll start creating content specific to what some of my paying users want instead of what is driving engagement on the algorithm on Instagram or YouTube. So again, it starts to shift the power towards the creator, giving them more knowledge, giving them the opportunity to, to create revenue and kind of own their own destiny. And I think that that's really important.
Jesse Clemmens: Cool, yeah. The way that you guys are thinking about solving the sort of imbalance of value exchange between creators and the platforms that they participate on is really, really cool. And the reason I think it's cool is because you're taking a different approach that doesn't say simply come to our platform, you're gonna earn more money because of XYZ value add, but instead you're saying, "Hey, the content that you are distributing elsewhere on any of the big, you know, three, four social platforms or distribution platform as already you wanna call them, still has value and is incredibly important. You just, haven't squeezed all the value out of that content yet. We're gonna take, we're gonna put it in a slightly different form, and we're going to add a new value on top of it, which is this sort of timely delivery of these components of information, guidance, knowledge." Put it in a form that's easily digestible and make it a product that will actually help people achieve things more in real time than they would in, you know, pulling up a YouTube video on Friday night.
Brent Totty: Yeah, exactly. I mean, if you think about just like the human psyche, like how, how active or how proactive is someone after that initial, like, "Hey, I'm having a problem. I'm gonna go to YouTube and, and, you know, watch this handful of videos to like help me solve it." Like what happens after that? The same thing that, you know, on Instagram, where someone, if you post, like, as a creator, say, you're posting like your Monday morning, like, hey, this is my Monday morning like inspiration. Like how many of your followers are actually seeing that in a time where it actually matters to them? Not only do you have the algorithm that is preventing, you know, a certain percentage of your users from not seeing it, but you also have the opportunity where it's like your users are in all different places around the world.
So what's Monday morning to you might be shown up to them like late, late Monday night and it misses the mark completely. So there's an opportunity to take that content that you originally envisioned being consumed in a certain way, but you get to take control over it. And you say, "No, this is actually meant to be cons- consumed in a certain way." And also it's delivered via text, which is like the most personal communication channel that there is, that user is going to get that text message. The open rate is gonna be, you know, 80, 90%, whatever it is these days in terms of like getting someone to open a message and actually read it. There's just so much more value that is exchanged there.
And I think that as we start to really cement this portion of like content consumption, content creation and value exchange that end users are also gonna find so much more value in being able to interact with the, with a creator in this particular fashion, where it's like, this is all of your best advice, it's customized to what I'm trying to do. And if I really need you, I can still reach out to you. And I'm like, we've seen over and over again, that end users are willing to pay for a very specific information diet combined with a little bit of attention from the people that they trust.
Jesse Clemmens: That's really powerful. And from a creator perspective, you know, making a creator's job sustainable and long-term focus, and actually being able to earn real income on a recurring basis, which is a model that works really, really well, what you're describing reminds me of something we talk a lot about on Creator Kit, which is creators moving from a rented audience to an owned audience. Rented audience being, you know, one that you've built on third-party platforms. So usually the big social distributions, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, where an algorithm change may work in your favor and it may work against you. Within reason, you can usually predict if you, if you've been doing the job well enough, what your distribution will look like, but an algorithm change or some other unknown policy change might really impact your ability to literally pay the bills if you're working either full-time or supplementing your, your income heavily.
So to be able to, instead of rent, own your audience, where you're literally hitting them in the pocket with instructions on what they need to achieve and delivering that beautiful content that you've already made ahead of time, that's really, really cool. I think it might be useful briefly to start with a description from like start to finish of what a user would experience. If they've, you know, got to know their creator and then they've completed a program.
Brent Totty: Yeah, absolutely. So for an end user say, I'm following you. And I'm really interested in the content that you're putting out there. You might have a link on your link in bio or something, wherever you tend to transact and send people, whether that's your own website and you can, you know, create this as a separate product on your shop, or if you wanna have it just be like a link in bio simple click. What that does is it then sends that end user directly to a landing page that explains it. Then this landing page is owned by the creator, has all of their branding all over. It explains what the actual product is going to do, what the outcomes are. And then an end user then would just sign up. Once they transact, we ask a few questions around, what's your schedule like?
What time do you wake up? What time do you go to bed? So that we can customize those types of messages based upon when you tend to do things. That's kind of like another core component of what, um, you know, our AI is really doing is identifying the right moments to send the right messages. So it's important for us to understand what end users are doing all day long. It gives you instead it's, instead of just blasting out at 8:00 AM, like here's all the stuff that you should be doing. It actually allows you like maybe someone wakes up at, at, you know, 6:00 AM. The other person wakes up at, you know, 10.30 just based upon their schedule. The timeliness of the message is actually really does matter. So we always collect all that information upfront.
They then land on a landing page that's owned by the creator that has all of the supporting content. That's gonna be in a program, any sort of worksheets, PDFs, uh, attached videos, anything that would be supporting in someone achieving a certain outcome. And then an end user would then just get a welcome text message from the creator. They're now like in that creator's phone book. And they're able to get those messages on a regular cadence based upon the, the way that the program is set up. So creators can set it up to be a Monday, Wednesday, Friday type deal, they could do every day. They can set it to, to multiple times a day, just really depending on what someone is really gonna, whatever the outcome of the program is. Just sometimes you want more messages, sometimes you want less. And then the last bit that's actually getting released here in the next few weeks is the opportunity to really hone in on the specific skill.
So within a certain outcome, you might have three to four different skills that a creator is offering and that end user can kind of pick and choose the order that they might want to engage. Maybe like if it's a health and wellness course, you're all set on nutrition. You're already dialed in, be really wanna a lot of help on, you know, mindset, mindfulness, meditation. And do you want some hydration support as well? So an end user is able to build their own journey based upon the creator content that's already organized in there. So again, it adds that extra layer of personalization. As they go throughout the program, they're getting messages. Those messages either have links to external sites that the creator wants to send them to, or it's gonna have stuff that's gonna be going directly back into our platform, which allows you to be able to chat with the creator if you want to.
So you have opportunities to be able to ask them questions. And then towards the end of the program, after you've achie- or once you're getting towards, like, you've gotten through your skills, we have feedback loops that say, "Hey, did you achieve all the things you were looking to do?" If yes, then it kind of goes onto this like, it's almost like autopilot where it's like, all right, we're gonna like pause these notifications for a while. We'll come back to you in like a few weeks and say, "Hey, like check in. How are you doing? Are these things actually like, did they become real skills and behaviors? Are they, are they impacting your life?" If not, then we can go back and restart the program. If not, it's this continuous drip of like checking in that we're doing on behalf of the creator. 'Cause the creator is like, after they've sold something, it's very unlikely that they're gonna have time individually for thousands of people to check in on them and see how they're doing.
So we kind of do all of that followup as well to make sure that not only did the end user get value out of the specific program, but that it actually did make a, you know, a marked difference in the way that they approach life.
Jesse Clemmens: Which all sounds like, correct me if I'm wrong, it all sounds like things that a trainer would do on a smaller scale with a roster of 10 clients, for example, the check-in, the feedback loop, how is it going? These things that are so important to success, but in a scalable way to potentially reach thousands of people.
Brent Totty: Absolutely. And the only thing that I would like add on top of that too, is like I would use the term like trainer or coach. Like it's not just health and wellness. It's any sort of skill, any person that has the opportunity to be able to drive advice over to someone, try to change the way that they're looking at the world, trying to change the way that they approach their day. You have an opportunity to be able to do that across many different content verticals. And so as much as we started in health and wellness, we started to see that this like, this template applies everywhere. So, you know, we're being very careful with like, you know, how, wide are we really spreading that net? We wanna make sure that we're addressing each specific vertical in the way that they wanna be, you know, taken care of. But there's just so much opportunity for any style creator that wishes that they had an opportunity to, to engage with people more regularly and be paid for it, but just doesn't have the time to do it.
Jesse Clemmens: Love that. Yeah. I've been following, I don't know if you're familiar with, I believe it's Dickie Bush's 30 for 30 Program on Twitter. Do you know that?
Brent Totty: No, I haven't seen that yet.
Jesse Clemmens: Yeah. It's, it's sort of very like Twitter world specific, but it's this guy named Dickie Bush. I think I got his name right. He does a program called 30 for 30, which is geared towards people that wanna grow their audiences on Twitter. And it's all about consistency, writing X number of words per day in very kind of like structured posts. And it's a cohort group. The reason that this came to mind is like, hey, here's a perfect use case where to produce great content, if you're a writer, you don't have to produce gold from every stroke with a pen, but you have to sit down every morning and write and you have to clear the faucet, so to speak. And eventually that habit becomes the stuff of what really great writing is, is born of. And that's a very different skillset than health and wellness, but similarly structured underneath are all about consistency.
Brent Totty: Yeah. I mean, I look at it like this, behavior is behavior and whether you're filling in the content gaps with health and wellness content, or whether it's, you know, how to, how to build a better audience and to, to drive more regular writing, you're really just changing the actual inputs into the particular piece of content. You might change some of the messaging, but the overall cadence that's required, the overall upkeep, the overall adherence and, you know, making sure that people are staying aligned with their overall goals and being reminded of why they're doing things is still that's like resolute throughout any vertical. So I love to hear that you're thinking about it that way, because that's such, like, I think that that's such a unique opportunity.
And as we continue to grow as a business, like we want to talk to more creators that are doing things like that, where they're like, hey, like this is my pain point. I'm like, great. I've, I've heard that pain point a million times. Let's figure out how to make sure that what it is that we're offering can specifically solve your problem. And if it doesn't like, let's have a conversation about it because I'm always like, that's, it's part of my like human Guinea pig, like forever. Self-improvement, it's just at my core. So I take the same approach when I look at product. When I'm talking to creators, I'm looking for opportunities to be able to uncover the things that maybe in the back of their mind, they like, were thinking about it, but never really came up.
And they're like, actually, it'd be really great if like, if I could do this or this, and it's like, awesome. That's like, for us, that's like product gold. And I think about it, I'm like, all right, like how do we like make sure that this scales for everyone that we're dealing with. So I just think that it's so important for creators to have an open conversation about like, what do they need? I think that that's something that is starting to emerge right now. And you know, you see that in like, you know, with, with all the different like Discord channels and Slack channels that we're all in. Like, we want that information. Like we think there's so much value in being able to unearth it that if creators are more vocal about like, hey, I really would love to be able to do this. There are a lot of minds that are really focused on trying to solve those problems for them.
So I think that that's just, that's also just a huge opportunity that's out there. You know, any of the creators that are, that are gonna be watching this in the future, spark up a conversation like every, every technology company that's focused on, on helping the Creator Economy wants your input. And no matter how small or how big, it doesn't matter, like this idea of like the top 2% of, of the Creator Economy generating like 95% of the overall value. Like that's changing. This middle economy creator is really gonna become something, it's gonna be a force to be reckoned with. And that's where all of this growth is gonna come. So like, if you're a creator that's struggling with this, like I don't have a big enough audience for anyone to pay attention, it's not true. There are technology companies, there are people, there is audience that's out there for you.
And I think that you have a real opportunity to build a real business with the value that you've already created and you're just going to continuously learn. So that, that's, that to me is the biggest opportunity that we've got, you know, coming up here in the next few years is, is enabling creators to live their passion and to be able to be paid for it.
Jesse Clemmens: Love it. So I'm gonna ask you two pop questions that we ask all of our guests. There'll be easy though. Uh, first is who's your favorite creator these days?
Brent Totty: That's tough. Um, I would respond with the type of creator. So my favorite type of creator are the individuals that are creating actionable niche, specific content. I have a lot of creators in my like community that I love. So like one of my favorite ones is Mary Shenouda. She's, she goes by Paleo Chef on all of her different platforms. Very, very good friend of mine. Creates and she works with a lot of like very high level, like A list celebrities and, and, you know, athletes. But she also is able to distill down that very complex, very individualized recommendation programs into programs that anyone can do. And so I think that that's the style of creator where it's like, yes, you may be working at this like high level, where it's like the things that I deal with are like so specific. But if you can boil your complexity down to simplicity and to be able to radiate that simplicity amongst your community and enable people that can't afford to work with you directly to be able to actually benefit from what you're doing.
Those are my favorite style of creators. It's that like, what, what's the simple message. And of course there's more complexity up top, but give someone a foot in the door. How do you get them to like really engage with like all of the great knowledge that you've, you know, attributed over your entire life? That's one of them. There's another guy out there that I've been following for a while. He just launched a protein oats company, which is like, you know, the product is great but his whole ethos is about helping people form habits and creating content to support it where it's like the product that he created is just one of the components of the many that he's giving away. And I think that more creators, especially as they become more established, are gonna find the opportunity to create physical, good products. But then also leverage content to support it and not just be like, hey, buy this, buy this, buy this.
But it's like buy this and by the way, here's all the other value that I'm providing for you. That to me, is kind of like where I see the future of all of this going is creators are gonna start to own the entire process. And as long as they've got the opportunity to be able to, to control each one of those different inputs, that's how they're really going to be successful. So that's a very long way of answering your question. But creators with action that have great intent and are meant to make impact in other people's lives.
Jesse Clemmens: Love it. I think you actually might have answered the second question, which was about a prediction, any wild and crazy predictions for the creator space. I heard in the last couple of sentences.
Brent Totty: That, that's definitely one of them. I think, I think that there's I think that creators are really gonna start to lean into owning physical goods, and then, so it's not necessarily this affiliate model where they're getting fractions of, of a percentage of the sales that they're distributing, but they're actually gonna be creating their own. You see that in like, you know, on YouTube where like creators will have merch, that's kind of like the first, like, it's like, that's the lowest hanging fruit, it's the easiest thing and the last... It least cost prohibitive. But over time, there's gonna be more and more opportunities for creators to not only generate revenue as a business to be able to fund something like that, but also to be able to start to raise money as well, because they're gonna be treating themselves as a profitable business. Like venture capital is gonna start pouring money into creators that are proven sellers and proven audience builders.
So that's kind of like... That's the crystal ball side over there. I think the other big prediction that I have is that skills-based creators are gonna start to take over what's happening in the enterprise model for like, like any sort of professional development programs, any sort of like health and wellness programs, anything that is gonna be supporting employees general wellbeing. Right now, a lot of those are like, you're able to kind of pick and choose different programs that are supported by larger brands. Like you've got access to like Calm.
But I think what's gonna end up happening is that creators are gonna start to build their own unique infrastructures and technology that allow them to be able to interject their content into the lives of people and companies are actually gonna pay for it. So I see that there's gonna be a huge opportunity for creators once their content is systematized and neatly packaged, that more companies are gonna start paying for their employees to engage in programs that are outside of the normal health and wellbeing or, or, you know, corporate wellness. Um, so I think that that's going to be another big thing that's gonna be happening over the next few years.
Jesse Clemmens: That's really, really cool. That's really cool. I hadn't thought of that one. I know that Calm has enterprise sales division and I guess the closest comparison to Calm in terms of creator platforms is Insight Timer. And wouldn't it be cool if rather than signing up for your corporate membership to Calm, you could instead just sign up for your favorite, I don't know, breath work coach on Insight Timer.
Brent Totty: Exactly.
Jesse Clemmens: And the money's going right to an individual instead of a, instead of a larger venture back startup.
Brent Totty: Yeah.
Jesse Clemmens: Don't get me wrong I don't have anything against venture backed startups, but...
Brent Totty: Yeah, totally, totally. I mean, yeah, totally. But I think that there's that like if companies start to understand that their employees are gonna be better served and happier and more supported by being able to select what they want, and then it's just a, you know, a monthly stipend of like, this is what you have to spend, like please, you know, distribute it around with things that you're interested in, you're starting to see that a little bit with like Masterclass where it's like, so I know Google has like a program where they pay for certain Masterclass courses. Like think of that as it spreads into that like middle section of the Creator Economy where people can pick and choose and say, "I really wanna work with this coach," and it's not going to be this like, you don't have to get it signed off on from, you know, the higher ups your company is just like, hey, you've got 200 bucks to spend each month on, on your wellbeing and, you know, your general progress, have at it.
That will be just such a drastic shift in their Creator Economy that's gonna drive so much value on both sides, both end-user, creator. And then if you even think about it, like the companies themselves are gonna benefit because employees would be happier.
Jesse Clemmens: Totally. Yeah. It's a huge trend. I mean, I was thinking of the example of like the, in the coffee space, Emma Chamberlain's Chamberlain Coffee, which is from what I can tell sort of a smash success and a real standout example of a creator producing a product and owning a majority of the margin. I don't know the exact economics of what her deal is, but it's a heck of a lot better than an Amazon affiliate fee, but to your point.
Brent Totty: Oh, absolutely. And there needs to be a facilitation pathway to be able to make sure that people know about all your different products. And I think that that's, that's where this like connected future internet is really gonna come into the, into play, is creators are gonna own different portions of their business, and they're gonna be able to direct traffic based upon what makes the most sense for their business not other people's businesses. So that's what's gonna end up happening here.
Jesse Clemmens: Yeah. And then, you know, there might be even a, a mash-up world where VOLV powers a nutrition program that is created and owned by XYZ nutrition creator, and distribution is handled by Blue Apron and it's branded by the creator. That's something I'd sign up for. It's pretty cool.
Brent Totty: Absolutely. Yeah. And creator mashups is something that I also, like, I just can't wait for creators to start like building programs together. I think collaboration builds more cohesive programs. That's something that I think is also in our, in our future where you start to get people that already, like their content pairs well together. I think that there's just so much opportunity, co-branded, promotion of it, and then kind of tag teaming people's questions. There's just... There's so much opportunity in this particular space and, um, we're, we're striving to be the one to, uh, to solve that problem for everyone.
Jesse Clemmens: Love it. Where can people find you?
Brent Totty: So you can find us on our website at, uh, VOLV.ai, and then you can also find me personally on Instagram. I'm on Twitter a little bit, but not as much, but on Instagram, I'm just @brenttotty. I posts a lot of stuff about my life, nutrition, health, and then also personal development, leadership, habit formation. I'm again, I'm a behavioral change nerd, so that's what you'll primarily find over there.
Jesse Clemmens: Awesome. We'll be sure to link out to all that stuff in the show notes. Brent, it's been awesome talking with you. Love hearing about what you guys are building, it's, it's a really unique, and I think it sounds like really powerful solution to behavior change and learning in general and self development improvement in general. I'm a big fan. Can't wait to try out a program and thanks so much for coming on the show.
Brent Totty: Of course, Jesse. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to, to use your platform, to talk a little bit about what we're up to and, um, hopefully we've provided some value for your listeners today.
Jesse Clemmens: Awesome, man, have a good one.
Brent Totty: You too.