Startup Stories

Denis Litvinov, Co-Founder & CEO Yepp, Is Changing How Creators Earn Money With Memes

For more of a decade, Denis Litvinov has been working with user-generated content platforms with AI and ML content feed aggregation, including iFunny app, which currently has more than 10M monthly active users. We talked about his new company Yepp, which allows everyone to earn a living through content creation, as well as how to build a community that will generate organic growth on the platform.

Grit Daily: What is Yepp, and how is it changing the way creators make money with memes?

Denis Litvinov: Yepp is a new user-generated content platform focused on entertainment. Its goal is to enable millions of people to monetize their sense of humor and provide tools to make content creation easy. On our platform, anyone can create a meme without specific skills. Users can just upload their own memes or choose from the app’s trending memes database, then edit text or images, and publish. Funny content goes viral and collects hundreds of thousands of views in the feed.

I’ve been working in the industry for more than 10 years, having built FUNCORP, a mobile entertainment app development company, which has a number of products in the portfolio. I understand that just creating a platform is not enough. A community is what makes social platforms live. We think that active users, who form the core of the community, are just as much co-founders as the platform developers. So, together with the team, we decided to make Yepp an open project, where everybody gets their fair share of the revenue, based on what value they bring to the platform. I would say that Yepp is the first project where meme and online entertainment creators get a share of the ad revenue for their work. Our goal is also to make sure that meme creators can be well paid and full-time professionals globally.

Grit Daily: What problems do creators face in trying to earn their content on other platforms? And how is Yepp different?

DL: Content monetisation is one of the biggest issues for creators at the moment. The main platforms for online creators are the big players, like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and others. However, their algorithms depend on the number of followers that a user has. So it’s not enough to create quality content, as it might not be highlighted and recommended to others. There are also such things as shadow banning, how content is ranked in the main feed, and many other restrictions that online creators have to deal with.
Luckily, there are a few services that allow you to earn ad revenue. The biggest one is YouTube, with a fair monetization system depending on views. But for long videos, or anything with a complicated creation process, such as music on Spotify, it is the same problem. You have to be a big and talented artist to make money on your content.

Yepp, on the other hand, earns money from advertising, and honestly divides the revenue between the platform and users: 50% of weekly revenue, with at least $1,750 weekly. Specifically, 30% goes to the friends that users invite to the app, 17% to the creators, and 3% to the users who are just watching memes. All of the revenue sharing and other analytics are fully transparent and can be seen in the app.

Another problem is that lots of people have a good sense of humor, but it may be difficult for them to become a meme author. A common misunderstanding is that it requires unique qualities, special technical skills or programs like Photoshop. But in practice, the most viral memes are created from scratch without any tools but your phone. And we are ready to help and make a platform for them.
With Yepp’s in-app studio, anyone can create a meme with no other skills than a good sense of humor. ML recognition technology allows for editing any text and font, and a Face Swap algorithm can replace a face on a meme with those of your friends. Besides that, automatically generated content suggestions help to create funny text based on your own sense of humor.

As for growing your audience, Yepp gives meme authors ways to easily get more subscribers and viewers. Smart algorithms based on user behavior create a personalized memes feed for every individual using different types of data: action rate, text and image recognition, the behavior of the user, and content. Neural networks can also detect clickbait memes, duplicates, and stolen content, and won’t give them any views.

Grit Daily: How did you manage to increase active users up to 10M monthly for your other company iFunny, and 30,000 in Yepp’s beta version?

DL: Honestly, it’s mostly organic growth. As I’ve mentioned before, community is key. Still, FunCorp has around 5-6M organic installs per year in the US. We built a community around meme lovers, and they spend a ton of time on the platform enjoying the content. Besides, as a company, we have been monetizing social entertainment networks for over a decade, and have earned our position as one of the industry’s leaders worldwide. This unique expertise allowed us to finetune the monetization process and properly distribute revenue among platform users through Web3 technologies.

We started Yepp’s beta version in July 2022 by inviting about 50 meme page owners from Instagram, iFunny and Reddit. After a week, we’ve got more than 1,000 daily creators and 30,000 active users who joined organically by word of mouth. People simply loved the idea and became our early adopters. Good thing that Yepp doesn’t have borders: US users at the moment are only 25%, while 75% are from other parts of the world. That motivates us to direct our project to a global audience.
Humor is a universal language that unites people. We believe in coming together to put humor in service of humanity, making people happy and letting authors earn a great living in content creation, as well as protect copyrights.

Grit Daily: What are some important aspects to consider when developing these types of platforms?

DL: The most important goal is to make users laugh. So the feed aggregation should be taken very seriously. We plan on undertaking a project where we focus on different cultures and different markets around the world to make the platform comfortable for everyone. Also, content moderation is critical, and we have been taking it very seriously since the first day of beta. There is no place for hate on Yepp, only fun and respect.

Grit Daily: How do memes affect digital culture in general?

DL: Over the past decade, memes definitely have become an important part of modern culture, and not only in the digital space. A meme can express basically anything. It’s a great way to share your ideas, opinions or feelings with anybody in a very simple and transparent way. Memes have also become a form of communication, and even celebrities or politicians, like Donald Trump, or entrepreneurs, like Elon Musk, use them as a way to communicate with their audience. Some of them even become memes themselves.

On the other hand, memes can impact culture and real life, since they can reflect on major media events and news. For example, when one of the largest container ships in the world blocked the Suez Canal, millions of memes appeared, which were special perspectives on the news. Another example is the GameStop, a video game retailer, whose shares squeezed out short selling hedge funds in 2021. It all started with a harmless meme on Reddit.

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