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Startup Story

Now streaming: As creators go pro, LiveLink simplifies the creator economy

Ismail Jeilani, CEO and founder of LiveLink discussing with a man

How a London startup helps creators bring monetize and connect with their community—all in one place

Can paid live sessions be dead simple? A London startup cracks the code

As the creator economy matures, surging past $10 billion in aggregate earnings, what do creators want? “They’re asking for sustainable income, a bigger slice of the revenue pie, and insisting on tools that directly connect them to their followers,'' says Ismail Jeilani, CEO and founder of LiveLink. The LiveLink platform allows creators to set prices and host pre-scheduled weekly or monthly live sessions, with up to 1500 guests, directly from a custom dashboard interface. With full control over both upcoming and previously recorded content, users have the ability to both create and monetize their work—and can also run highly targeted, time-saving marketing campaigns that optimise the growth of their community. “We give creators a way to build a stronger relationship with their audience and greater control over their income streams. Many of our users are earning close to full-time salaries teaching on the platform.”

LiveLink launched this summer, with Jeilani making the announcement at a Somalis in Tech event at Google’s London headquarters. The London startup has raised $3.5 million in seed funding from Biz Stone, a co-founder of Twitter and Medium; IFG VC; and Capital T, among other angel investors. Jeilani has been featured in Buzzfeed, Business Insider, BBC, and Vice News, and ranked as one of the “top 100 coolest people in tech” by Business Insider in 2017.

“Creators are always building relationships with their fans but the tools for building these close knit communities in a sustainable way have been lacking. With our paid live sessions, creators can focus on creating, educators can focus on educating. LiveLink handles the rest,” says Jeilani. “We handle broadcasting, marketing, editing, messaging, and user analytics. You just have to choose a topic, date, time and how much you would like to charge.”

As a platform, LiveLink is both a pivot and rebrand from Scoodle, a video platform Jeilani co–founded and built for educational influencers that helped 1.2 million students from 70 countries through an active base of over 10,000 tutors and education influencers. In 2021, Scoodle was selected for the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, receiving ongoing mentorship as well as $100,000 in non-dilutive funding and up to $120,000 in Ads grants and $100,000 in Cloud credits. The support provided the team with the resources they needed to scale and grow. “We raised investment directly because of the Black Founders Fund, and gained access to Google, to great founders, and to additional capital,” said Jeilani. “These are things you can’t put a price tag on.”

“We regularly had demand from places like the USA, India, Canada, and 30 other countries to use our product and services. But when it came to expanding beyond the UK, we constantly had legal, technical, and regulatory barriers,” says Jeilani. “We stay close to our users. We knew we couldn’t keep things as they were. So, we created LiveLink, going back to our original vision. The idea that everyone has something to learn and something to teach is not academic. So it only made sense to establish a platform that caters to these many other types of teachers and learners.”

The King’s College London grad has spent nearly the entirety of his adult life as an educator and influencer, paying his way through undergrad as an economics and foreign language tutor. “I didn't take out a student loan. Instead, I moonlighted as a personal tutor, teaching Economics for between 15 and 20 hours a week, alongside my studies. I also created small classes of 10 students, and in just over a year, I made enough to cover the cost of my entire degree,” says Jeilani, whose tutoring page still impressively reads, “7 years Teaching Experience. 18,928 students helped. 68 Questions answered. £40 per hour.”

That means the startup founder intimately knows the pain points and financial challenges of educator influencers. “The creator and educator influencer economy is changing. A lot of these teachers are sceptical of larger platforms and want to channel their energies into something that is more tight-knit and community-based,” says Jeilaini. “One the learner side, be it day trading, emotional intelligence, coding, mortgage lending, fitness, organising live conferences, whatever, many young employees are needing to assimilate knowledge as much for curiosity as the bottom line. These people aren’t looking for teaching institutions down the road. They are looking for teachers right now.”

Learn more about LiveLink