Hello guys! We’re happy to share with you Kult's Interim Report. The Grant kicked off for us on June 2021, and it will last until June 2022 (we requested a no-cost extension to have more time to accomplish our initial goals). And this cover image is the team of founders Patrick, Helena, Diogo and Phablulo in Websummit Lisbon, November 2021 :D
We had several improvements during the funded period. It is not unfair to say that Kult is a completely different platform, now that we are heading to the end of the Grant period. However, we also had some setbacks, as any startup is supposed to.
Looking back, we consider that our biggest win so far was to achieve the initial purpose of Kult: building a community of thousands of culture-lovers, debating and sharing cultural content online, while monetizing human curation without ads. The Kult community proved that it is way better to discover content with real people, instead of letting algorithms tell us what to watch/listen/read. As a struggle, we can say it was complicated to popularize the Web Monetization technology. Our main users are Portuguese speakers (Brazilian and Portuguese) and they faced barriers to adopt the WM feature, as we are going to see later on this report.
Proposed features and status:
- Illustrated landing page presenting Kult: Done (https://kult.com.br/login)
- Hiring Social Media agency: Done
- Discussion forums/comments inside content: Done (https://kult.com.br/c/6135f06d03e9416d84e9597b?source=6241c06a46becc0e100b7663)
- "Discover people" page: Done (https://kult.com.br/s)
- Collaborative galleries: Done (https://kult.com.br/k)
- Increasing accessibility: Postponed (next few months)
- Internationalization: Postponed (next few months)
- Guest Blogging: Postponed (next few months)
- Paid partnerships with curators and creators: Ongoing
- Where to watch: Done
- Feedback page to hear users: Done (https://kult.com.br/feedback)
- Adding books: Done
- At least 50 influencers using Kult: Done
- Audio transcription service: Cancelled
- Distributing US$ 5 to be spent on Kult: Cancelled
- Asking friends for recommendations: Done
Traction/growth KPIs (March 2022):
- 2170 registered users (we started the Grant with only 200)
- 788 monthly active users (goal: 1000 until June 30, 2022)
- 8251 content recommendations
Monetization with WM:
- Donations to Curators and Creators: Done (https://kult.com.br/d)
- Audio monetization: Cancelled (Spotify's new Terms do not allow)
- Monetizing personal galleries: Ongoing (prototype: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/11ryqmhbwAvYjeFEawBO_Bhy8eDqFadjO?usp=sharing)
- Monetizing Communities: Ongoing (prototype: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1jYPOOsUePJG9rIEDzyrn9sxL0VY6Xhi-?usp=sharing)
- 4 curators monetized
- Total of USD 0,15 transactioned inside the platform
- Total of USD 32,56 received by curators from Interledger Network
Platform: Kult proved to be a very loved community for people who want to discover, share, and organize movies, TV series, books, podcasts, and songs online. GFTW was essential to validate the initial idea, and of course improve it with several new features as mentioned above. Also, we launched the Android app, and soon the iOS app will be available.
Monetization: We managed to prove that human curation can and should be monetized. Despite some barriers, Web Monetization has a huge potential to reward people for helping others to find amazing content amid endless options, and also organizing them in customizable galleries, which will be soon available for monetization (see prototype).
Communities: Since Kult launched its new Community feature, it has been thrilling to watch people exchanging knowledge, information, and curiosities about niche content.
Influencers/curators/creators: We also managed to gather several culture influencers/curators/creators, mostly from minority groups, giving them voice and power to leverage content they value.
Open code and licensing: Kult's code is open and accessible to all (https://gitlab.com/phablulo/kult). All content and information shared on Kult is licensed as Creative Commons 4.0.
In all of Kult’s communication channels, we highlight diversity, inclusion, openness, tolerance, and love. We have spread the word of Web Monetization in several channels:
Podcast "Versão Beta": https://kult.com.br/c/61117f48494f601d4f5fa573 (about human curation and how Kult aims to monetize it using WM)
Podcast "Eaí, assistiu?": https://kult.com.br/c/621638ea2115874b91b01b02 (about the growing influence of algorithms over what we consume and how human curation is a better way to discover good content)
Meios & Publicidade Magazine (2 articles): https://www.meiosepublicidade.pt/registo/?id=262602&pgm=
Interruptor online event (@ruteradio): discussing micropayments with another Grantee and presenting Kult's way of monetizing curators with Web Monetization
University of Porto website: https://noticias.up.pt/mestrado-na-feup-inspirou-patrick-rahy-a-fundar-duas-empresas/
Websummit Lisbon 2021 participation (see picture), in which Patrick spoke about the Future of Content in one of the stages, highlighting how Web Monetization could be interesting to monetize curators of content online.
We spent less than half of the marketing budget so far, as we were waiting the platform to reach all the main features users want, as well as the Android and iOS apps (Android is on but Apple is still reviewing it). The main investment was made on cultural influencers, prioritizing minority voices, to bring their followers to Kult.
- Remaining features (internationalization, accessibility, Guest Blog).
- Monetizing Galleries: see prototype link.
- Bringing groups of content recommendation from other social networks to experience Communities on Kult.
- New partners (cultural influencers from minority groups).
- Reapply to Grant aiming to improve the WM technology and diminish the existing barriers, making it available for more people.
Cultural communities in general would be very useful on Kult. Now that we have Communities available on Kult, we want to bring people from other social networks to experience the cultural exchange on Kult. However, there is the language barrier (only Portuguese) that we are working to eliminate, by adding English and Spanish language options.
Sharing ways to diminish some barriers that WM have.
Working with the Grant community and using Web Monetization to be the first platform to reward content curators on the web has been an insightful journey. There is a lot of potential in this technology, but to achieve this potential it is paramount to reduce the several frictions users have today. When we implemented the donation via WM, we explained step by step how users could monetize curation on Kult. The feedback we received from users is clear: there are too many steps and most of them are unrealistic for Brazilian users: first they have to create an account on Coil, which is available only in English; then they need an international credit card to pay 5 USD/month + taxes (which in Brazil is a considerable amount of money); downloading the Coil browser extension, logging in, then returning to Kult; once on Kult, you can start supporting curators, however if you want to receive the donations you must create an Uphold account, then return to Kult and paste the address of the wallet. The experience is expensive and intermittent, especially for non tech-savvy people.
The ideal way to solve these issues would be to develop the technology so it could be natively implemented on Kult, this is, you could donate, create a digital wallet, and receive money without having to leave Kult. In this possible scenario, the technology would still be used, but we would manage to implement the monetization 100% inside of Kult, creating a frictionless UX and leveraging Web Monetization experience.