April 28, 2022
Happy Thursday! 🦋
We’ve all heard of the Great Resignation: a record high of 48 million people quit their jobs in the last year, 23% above pre-pandemic levels. But what’s replacing those corporate jobs is the passion economy – people building their own businesses around a passion. As opposed to the gig economy, where people complete single jobs at a time, the passion economy allows creators to transform their skills and knowledge into a scalable business that generates passive income (think: paid Substack newsletters, online courses, podcasts).
Through new digital platforms, creators can now build closer, more personalized relationships with their communities compared to in the past, which provide more value to both parties. If you’ve been meaning to make something out of your passions, here’s your sign to start.
📅 Gen Z Creator of the Week
✨ Meet Jennifer Lee, the 26-year-old executive producer for Justin Kan (co-founder of Twitch, sold to Amazon for ~$1bn), creator of a Discord server with thousands of members, and full-time product manager at Stripe in their crypto team.
Since January 2021, she’s grown Justin Kan’s Youtube channel to 150k+ subscribers and nearly 300k followers on TikTok. She also builds community for Fractal, a gaming NFT marketplace that recently raised $35mm in seed funding from Paradigm, Multicoin Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Coinbase, and more. Jen graduated from Princeton University in 2017 with a B.A. in Molecular Biology.
In today’s issue, Jen shares insights into her journey as a content creator:
🏠 Jen’s background: My parents were very supportive and encouraging growing up. In middle school, I sold erasers and mixed perfumes and lotions. In high school, I started a food blog, and at one point, I had the top Google search result for “how to make homemade croissants”.
In college, I interned at a VC firm and started Cartful, a fashion brand discovery engine. It got funding from the 1517 fund, which is managed by former Thiel Fellowship directors.
📝 Why content creation? Making content has a really low barrier to entry. Technology allows people to create content at scale nowadays.
However, there are a lot of transferable skills between founders and creators. You might be surprised that your favorite creators have tried to launch startups and vice versa. Creativity and resourcefulness are well-rewarded traits for both.
🎮 Starting a Discord server: Because of the pandemic, I relaunched my food blog in 2020. I encountered many pain points and wondered if there were any tools designed to help bloggers. That’s when I became aware of the creator/passion economy, an ongoing movement which is made up of startups designed to help creators like myself (think: Patreon, OnlyFans, Cameo).
I began listening to a podcast called Means of Creation (which covers the passion economy) and started the Discord channel to talk about it with others. It quickly evolved beyond that into a place where founders, creators, investors, and writers can come together. People have found their co-founders and investments through this community.
👩💻 Becoming Justin Kan’s executive producer: I came across Justin on a Discord server saying he needed help with his podcast. I DM’d him with my experience as a creator and Discord moderator and gave him suggestions on how to grow his content. The next week, he called to ask when I could start.
When I first got started, I made sure that Justin didn't have to lift a finger apart from standing in front of the camera and talking. My responsibilities were everything from storyboarding to production, editing, posting, and everything required to get that video out the door.
▶️ Building a YouTube channel w/ 150k+ subs: We test our video ideas on TikTok before producing them for YouTube to get quick feedback and see which ones might go viral. We then double down on popular formats and make them into longer-form videos.
The initial videos were all storytimes, with Justin sharing about how he exited Twitch for $970 million. That format was fitting, relatable, and YouTube-friendly. The next format we brainstormed, which became really popular, is the “Roasting Startup Pitch Decks” series, where we invite founders to submit their slides and have Justin (in his sarcastic drunk humor) roast them in a helpful and productive way.
I think “Only Friends” is another really cool format where Justin and his Silicon Valley friends hang out and chat. It's like you're eavesdropping on their conversation, with the fun camaraderie but also provides an inside scoop on how the smartest people in the space are thinking about trends in tech.
👫 Working with Justin Kan: He's very grounded; there's no pretentiousness even with his level of success. I'm always surprised by how much he values my time and work, and he makes sure that everyone is recognized for their contributions. He's always game to try new things, so it’s honestly a lot of fun. It feels very much like a partnership in putting the channel together.
☀️ A week in the life: Last week, I was at BTC Miami with Stripe (I’m part of their new crypto team) to talk to potential partners and customers. I finally got to meet Justin's partner at his VC firm (Goat Capital), and I attended a dinner with the game partners minting NFT collections on Fractal. However, my normal week is working out of my home in Seattle.
🎮 Building with Fractal: Fractal is a gaming NFT marketplace that Justin started this year. I've been helping Fractal get their community up and running, which hit 100k only 14 days after launch. They've been killing it and recently announced a $35 million seed round.
💼 Balancing a full-time job with side hustles: If I take something on, I'm committed 110%. I don't want to be that person who’s not pulling their weight. When I'm working at Stripe, I’m completely focused on it. I do everything else in my free time, which is divvied up between community stuff and producing content for Justin.
It’s okay to say no; I try to mitigate work overload by being extra careful with what I take on. It’s also okay to reprioritize if new info comes through and changes things.
📢 Gen Z trends: People are building more publicly and with their community, which is so different from building in silos. For Gen Zs, we want to find a sense of belonging and identity in our work. A strong community can provide feedback and direction as well as an initial user base that’s ride or die. I feel like there's much more solidarity in the space and more of a positive-sum game.
💡 Most underrated trait: Being able to maneuver your way out of tricky situations; thinking creatively when you encounter roadblocks
🙌 Most underrated piece of advice: Feel free to share however much or little you want. When I started my food blog, I only told two people about it even though I was getting millions of views. That way, if I failed, I wouldn’t have to answer to anyone. Putting yourself out there is great for the people who can do that. But if fear of judgement is preventing you from starting, you don't have to go public with it. tl;dr Start building skills in something you’re passionate about - you never know who might need them, be intentional about what you commit to, and you don’t have to go public to start Keep up with Jen on Twitter: twitter.com/BackseatVC Join her Discord server: discord.com/invite/BfFvWE9mCJ Subscribe to Justin Kan’s YouTube channel: youtube.com/c/JustinKanTV Justin Kan's TikTok: tiktok.com/@justinkan
🐦 Tweet of the Week
✌️ That’s it until next time!
Thanks for reading this issue of AsianFound! If you have any feedback or would like to see anyone featured, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re not already subscribed, here’s your chance below!