First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Robert Tarabcak: Thank you for asking. We are trying our best to stay safe and healthy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Cinnamon.
Robert Tarabcak: I’ve been around content creators since my childhood, and the last few years must have been stressful for a lot of YouTubers. Before Cinnamon, I joined a company building turnkey solutions for content creators to get paid instantly and, most importantly, fairly. After a few months of working at Coil, I’ve committed myself to challenge big tech with a new product using their technology. Cinnamon was born.
How does Cinnamon innovate?
Robert Tarabcak: We consider ourselves a product-driven company, but our core innovation lies in our approach to content creators. Before we commit to building something, we validate if it solves the creators’ real-life problems and helps them grow their business. For example, many creators out there are affected by demonetization. The fear of not being able to monetize what they’ve put their energy into is incredibly demotivating. Add the video platforms’ ever-changing algorithms and full dependency on ads, and you end up with a model that serves everyone but creators. We’re challenging this.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Robert Tarabcak: As a precautionary measure, we closed our office at the beginning of October. Our team operates from Los Angeles, Liverpool, and Prague, so luckily, we were already used to working remotely, and our productivity didn’t go down. I’m very thankful for this as we’re approaching the next round of funding, and there are so many things to push in all our departments. As a business, we have kept growing these past few months, and we managed to launch a completely redesigned brand along with new mobile apps and a web app at the beginning of October. The video platform industry hasn’t been hit by the pandemic as hard as other areas. I don’t want to sound like we are thankful for a global pandemic, but the more people stay home, the more opportunities there are for them to explore and watch new content, which is good for us.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Robert Tarabcak: Yes, we did – but they weren’t necessarily connected to the pandemic. Like many startups in this stage, we knew we had a great product, but we’re struggling to market it properly. We also had to find a sustainable way to grow – if the number of video uploads on Cinnamon increased too quickly, it would shorten our runway to a nervous length. So the lessons learned would be to market product updates sooner, test them properly before building them, and keep working only on those that stick. And a second lesson – know the cost of your growth.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Cinnamon in the future?
Robert Tarabcak: This is a good one and a hot topic in my case. Since the beginning of our journey, I’ve been used to working literally day’ n’ night. But having 10 to 20 meetings per week with VCs mostly based in the United States, I now consider starting to work in the afternoon.
Part of our policy is flexible work time, based more on performance and responsibility, rather than time worked on the projects.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Robert Tarabcak: This will sound like bragging, but I truly believe that there’s no other video platform like Cinnamon. Our combination of “creator care,” freedom to natively publish from Cinnamon to other platforms like YouTube and Facebook and unique features like Shorts make us one-of-a-kind. That said, of course, we have competition – every time someone decides to spend their time watching a blockbuster movie, playing a video game, or even reading a book, we were outcompeted. We plan to stay in the game by shipping the best experience possible, taking extraordinary care of our content creators, and focusing our marketing efforts only on what we know works best for our community and us.
Your final thoughts?
Robert Tarabcak: On behalf of the entire team behind Cinnamon, I want to thank you for the opportunity to share our story with your community. We also highly appreciate everyone trying Cinnamon out and leaving us feedback and suggestions.
A recent article on Forbes.com: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkoetsier/2020/10/27/97-of-content-creators-arent-getting-paid-cinnamon-wants-to-change-that/