Interview with the CEO of Commiss.io – a service for project management, creators and fans.
by Patch O'Furr
Nearly ten thousand users last month, and rapidly approaching five thousand artist listings - looks like we're having a growth spurt!— Commiss.io (@Commissioapp) February 8, 2018
How devoted are furries? To commission a fursuit, they tortuously wrap themselves in duct tape, pay thousands of dollars and trust a years-long wait before getting something back. Imagine if you had to do that for a new car or stove?
The upside is direct exchange for hand-made goods, but the downside is a clunky process with a lot of invested effort and risk of fraud or failure. It works because fandom is close-knit, but there’s opportunity for better platforms to help buyer and seller. (I was posting about it in 2013). Fursuit makers seem to be niche enough to handle their own business, but freelance artists handle smaller projects much more frequently. Art commissioning sites have started up to help. Achieving scale of users may be a challenge, but they’re in a growing fandom and word is getting out.
Commiss.io first caught my notice with their banner in the dealer’s den at BLFC. Now Hunter, the CEO, joins me to chat about the service.
My impression of Commiss.io is a business aimed at the freelance art marketplace. It was started by furries but it’s for any and all users. Do I have that right? Who’s on the team?
Pretty much! Though most of us have at least some involvement in the fandom, Commiss.io was created for any and all creators. Not just anthro artists, but musicians, sculptors, and more! We’ve really seen a lot of adoption within fandoms, furry and otherwise, and we’re really happy to provide a great place for that!
Right now there are four of us that work on the project. Myself, Mark, Chris, and Nate. There are, of course, all of the great artists and commissioners on the site as well! Right now we all do a little bit of everything, from outreach, marketing, customer support, and coding.
Commiss.io is described as a “place to manage your creative shop” – helping with payments, project management, licensing, asset delivery, and more. Is this improving on other services?
We saw a niche that needed filling. There are gallery sites, social networks, project management sites, and sites for very small freelance projects and very large ones. Together they all create a very disjointed experience, with little focus on projects in the range that many freelance fandom artists tend to focus on. As a result, creators end up with an uneven experience and the need to manage themselves across a number of platforms, without a central location to track their projects and ensure protection for sellers. When things are messy, it’s easy to get lost.
Our goal is to be a central hub, with the process fading into the background so creators can focus on creating, and clients can have a great experience.
Can you give a few numbers about how it’s doing so far?
Sure thing! Since we got started earlier last, we’ve helped creators raise over $100,000, quickly growing now to over $10,000 each month! We have several hundred active creators and many more active clients. We’ve also seen several folks move most, if not all, of their custom projects and digital downloads to the platform. Though we have a lot still to do, we take that as a sign we’re on the right track! We’ve got happy clients and happy creators.
Happy New Year! Some great stats from 2017: Creators earned nearly $90k on Commissio even though we're still in our early stages. Plus, there's around $25k in the earnings pipeline at any given time. Nice job creators, keep up the fantastic work!— Commiss.io (@Commissioapp) January 5, 2018
If I don’t care about numbers or technical stuff, what can you say about it for an art lover?
For an art lover, I think the best part of the site is being able to find new artists doing things you might love – and being able to get yourself into the art easier. In furry culture, you often see art lovers convert that love into art for themselves – inserting their character into the art style of the artists they love. They also connect with the artists via prints, or shirts, downloads…whatever art forms, whatever mediums a particular artist makes. And that’s awesome that the community supports each other.
That’s why we’re here – making it easier for people to support their favorite creators – and helping creators manage their business so they can focus on art.
What’s the best benefit users can get, like for time or money?
From an artist’s perspective, it helps them manage all of their projects in one place. No more digging through notes, emails, and DMs to try and find all the details, and no more trying to remember in your head everything you have to do this week. All of your projects are laid out right in front of you. So you’re definitely saving time. Plus, we support instant payouts. Funds can go from a paid invoice to their bank account in a matter of minutes!
From a client perspective, there are a lot of benefits. First, it can act as a repository for your files, somewhere where can always go back and find the original files months or even years later. Another benefit is buyer security. We don’t collect payment until the artist starts on your project. And, we help oversee disputes between artists and commissioners.
For artists, that means no more “I lost my money because of a paypal chargeback”. And, clients, that means no more “I lost my money because I never got my art”. This is a big deal for direct money savings on both sides. And so far we’ve had ZERO chargebacks. For those familiar with the art industry, or even any product sales, that’s a huge deal.
We’ve also built out a marketplace to help creators connect with clients and vice versa. I think that’s going to be big business for our creators. It’s still growing, and we’re pushing really hard to get more users so that’s sustainable and it’ll make everyone’s lives even better. But in the meantime we’ve built some great tools that really help creators and commissioners alike.
Tips are also baked into the platform as well, allowing clients to give a little something extra at the end of a project, or just give their support to a creator!
New customer info summaries are live - keep track of who's buying from you! pic.twitter.com/q2ySreMXg2— Commiss.io (@Commissioapp) February 1, 2018
I see you have thousands of creators. Is this already a primary entrance to find an artist, and help artists to promote their work? Or is it more about bringing in clients from elsewhere?
That’s the long-term vision. When people complete the entire commissioning loop – from finding an artist – we think it’ll be awesome. But we’ve still built a system that’s very helpful for our clients and artists even before then.
We also know there’s a lot of artists who may not want that at all! They may see a lot of success promoting their presence and their products on their own sites or communities. So we’ve made it so they can put their commiss.io store in a tumblr post, on their own site, wherever they want. Anywhere they can put an iFrame, they can put their store and it’ll look just like they did it themselves. And that’s already available; you can do that today.
In the future, we hope that we’ll be able to integrate directly into external sites as well. It’s a definite goal of ours!
Can you tell me more about users? Who has adopted it and how many do you think are furries? Does it affect planning, like where you might promote?
We’ve had users adopt the service ranging in volume from a couple projects a month, to hundreds over the year. Some still invoice with PayPal, others use our tools. The vast majority of projects, though, are invoiced through the site, with positive feedback from both buyers and sellers.
The furry community has definitely been one of our biggest supporters, and we’re thrilled about that. We’re always looking to expand into other communities, and hope to support a wide variety of folks moving forward. Like any business, we’ll split our promotion between communities we already support and groups we want to encourage to adopt the platform.
What portion are actively making money through you? Do you know what stuff is doing the most business?
Well, right now we’ve chosen not to make money because we want the site to grow, and people to try it out – and we recognize that we’ve got some growth to do too. We know that building this thing up is the most important thing for our users.
Long-term, we’re looking at some different options. We’ll most likely adopt a “freemium” model, where users can opt to pay for a pro membership and avoid platform fees, or pay a small platform fee on top of standard transaction fees to help us cover costs.
But regardless, we’re be committed to keeping fees low as we move forward. We’re here to help the artistic community, not weigh people down with fees.
I’ll bet furries are curious about content standards. Are there limits for adult content? How about payment handling – do you have to be cautious of what happened with other services, like rejecting clients for having tricky content?
Of course content policies are something we take very seriously. We allow NSFW content so long as it’s properly flagged, and outline what content is restricted in our Community Guidelines. We’ll make adjustments as necessary, and work with our payment partners to ensure that we can support a wide variety of content. We have a proven track record of safe and secure transactions, and this only helps to strengthen our relationship with our providers.
Has Commiss.io had adjustments or cool opportunities since launch?
We’ve made a number of changes since we started. One thing we’ve focused on since the beginning was an ability to iterate quickly and stay flexible. We generally push a few updates to the site a week. Some big, some small, but always ensuring that we’re working hard to keep the site (relatively) bug-free and reliable. We’re constantly making adjustments based on community feedback.
Probably the coolest thing has been seeing the variety of artists coming through. There’s people doing all kinds of amazing things, and I know that diversity and quality of the art on commiss.io is only going to be even more amazing as time goes on.
5 new features?! You heard us right. We've been busy busy. Check it out in our February Creators' Update! https://t.co/Uu2cH6pzf1— Commiss.io (@Commissioapp) February 11, 2018
What’s in the future for it?
We have a lot on the roadmap at any given point. We’ve recently launched some awesome features that build into these, like customer management tools. But here’s an idea of what we’re looking at in the near future:
- Client subscriptions to their favorite artists
- Direct PayPal support
- More robust Physical item sales (so you can sell t-shirts, pins, comics, etc. – we already have digital download support)
- Phased or installation payments for larger projects and orders
Of course, we’re always listening to our community to determine what’s coming next, too.
Do you have any other words I can share for furries who might be reading?
Check it out! Make an account, try it out. Click that little button in the bottom right and hit us up with any thoughts/suggestions/feedback, anything you want. We’re always reading that and always trying to make things even better.
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