Hi there, if you're here, you are either an amazing business writer that I want in on this project or an investor interested in the project.
This piece is the equivalent of a "pitch deck". I aim to give you all my thoughts here instead of relying on my presentation abilities. I believe the business case is so strong that I don't need to rely on presentation skills - merely to present the data.
Premium business analysis rise
Premium business and stock analysis, the kind that required either expertise in a specific field (Asian century stocks, Clouded Judgement) or massive amounts of research (Monthly Mostly Borrowed Ideas), are on the rise. Here's a limited list of substacks, but of course, there is high growth in platforms like "Seeking Alpha" and "Common Stocks", too.
There is a market, and there is demand. Anecdotally, Mostly Borrowed Ideas mentioned in his 2021 annual letter that he reached $168k ARR in less than two years.
The gated content is a two-edged sword
Each individual premium analysis newsletter can be monetized only by a paywall. The content is too deep, detailed, and niche to justify an ad-supported business while being high quality enough to merit payment by those who value it.
But once the content is behind a paywall, every individual has to figure out how to fill their marketing funnel. Doing this alone often proves too difficult - with most writers either riding on the wave of trust they gathered while their newsletter was still free, limited growth through word-of-mouth, or creating lead-magnets free content that takes away from their analysis efforts. The true growth potential is untapped.
The solution - Premium bundle
A premium brand bundle of selected newsletters can get all the advantages and freedoms of self-publicized newsletter, with none of the drawdowns of corporate newspapers.
Each individual can create a brand name for his niche or quality, but those are limited for obvious reasons. A more general brand for premium high-quality analysis can be better in name-recognition and drawing more eyes to the content, while also benefitting every newsletter that's part of the bundle by being in this high-quality neighborhood.
Bundling by its nature making the pie larger. The sum of the premium newsletters together is much bigger than each of them individually. This is a well known thing, but for an example close to hear, check out every. A bundle of premium productivity and leadership newsletter. They wrote about their bundling miracle.
Economies of scale
Once in a bigger bundle, the scale economics come to play in the obvious overheads such as marketing, maintaining the publication systems and more.
Not only it takes the overhead from each individual, making everything more efficient, since the bundle is within the same niche of business analysis, everything can be tailored for the niche needs. (as opposed to generic newsletter such as Substack does)
After the obvious overheads, we also have the power of a group applied to other areas: buying access to data. creating a thriving private community - which one man can't do, and can also act as another top of funnel tool. creating specialized tools for presentation (check out the dynamic graphs and dynamic DCF at the end of this post). There are limitless opportunities here.
Who Am I
I'm Snir, I've been CTO of 2 startups, participating in the funding founding phases. I also worked in bigger corporation, with the last being Monday.com for which I've done the engineering side of the marketing and sales departments.
So I have experience starting ventures, raising funds, working in bigger companies, and specifically fine-tuning and perfecting well-run marketing machines (lucky for me Monday.com is public now, you can see it yourself).
Let's dig a little deeper. What comes next is why this can be a great business, in detail.
Bundling makes for bigger TAM
The TAM of an individual newsletter is limited by the type of the newsletter:
- For general personal brands, it's limited by the personal brand reach and trust (MBI deep dives, Ben Thompson)
- For niche subjects, it's limited to those who have special interest in the niche (Asian Century Stocks, Clouded Judgement)
In my job on Monday.com I built a deep learning model that assign intent, in percentage, for each visitor to make a purchase. It was dependent on many data points we gathered in the site and outside (thanks zoominfo). The model was 98% accurate, showing that each customer has a range of intent to make a purchase.
It was easy then to capture the low hanging fruits customers with 80%+ intent to make a purchase with some timely targeted mails and offers. Then, extending it to the 60%+ guys with special offers and discounts.
My point is that same behavior occurs with newsletter readers. For every paying subscribers, there are multiple people whose intent was only 90%, 85%, 80%. Because the niche is interesting to them, but not worth the hassle of another subscription on its own. The personal brand trust is good, but not enough to make a purchase - a decision road that most customers will never stumble upon again.
Bundling pushes those customers over the edge. The offer is so good, that even if they'd never subscribe to each newsletter individually - they'd do so for the bundle.
There will be some cannibalization here - personal subscribers to one or more will move to the bundle. But this is inconsequential in the face of the bigger market available by this move. The amount of people that wouldn't have subscribed to any individual newsletter but do so for the bundle will far outweigh those who would have subscribed to any one newsletter.
A premium brand
With only selected writers in the bundle as partners, we can build a premium brand and prestige to attract readers. Think Apple, Gucci, Rolex. We can be the only ones able to do that, because of the closed, controlled structure.
Building a brand individually is possible, but with the cumulative reach of multiple quality writers and the leverage of the economics of scale to have more focus on marketing - the possibility to do so together is higher.
Every other competitor in the market is a platform - focusing on the platform scale, which typically means reduction of the brand to nothing in pursuit of hype and as close as they can get to mainstream.
We see it in mature platforms like "Seeking Alpha", which its brand is actually damaging premium writers at this point, to new platforms like "Common Stocks" - with the uber-focus on short term returns and hype.
"Substack" and other generic publishing platforms are just that - generic. They limit your design language, your approach to readers, they even combine you with unrelated newsletters in bulk email outreach to past subscribers. You can't shine there as a premium brand, you are stuck in the "yet another substack" loop.
Not that these platform aren't profitable - oh man they are. But their structure will never allow them to become a premium brand of business writing. We can.
The creator burnout
Solo creators have huge pressure to create new content constantly.
For a creator not to be forgotten he needs to show up daily, otherwise the algorithm gods we depend on for distribution (Twitter for most of us here) lowers the exposure.
This is far exaggerated for paywalled content writers - the writer creates a usual cadence, anywhere from two posts a week to one big deep dive once a month.
But what happens when you want to take 2 weeks off? You want a vacation, or you have some personal emergency. You take a monthly subscription from your readers - how is it fair to give them nothing suddenly?
With a bundle of a few writers, the content will flow anyway, allowing for writers to take time off as they need it to keep producing great content for the long run.
In this structure you keep the benefits of a business ownership and independence, while enjoying the perks that employees often do.
Focus on our writers
As the writers are partners within our brand, every great content any writer produce benefits everyone by association - another nudge to subscriber, another added value for the customer.
Creator platform lie "Seeking Alpha" and "Common Stocks" provide great distribution for a writer in the short term, but fight him in the long term. They don't care about the writer - they care about the platform.
On top of the damaged brand they provide, they make every creator a direct competitor of every other creator - leading to low quality (as quantity gets more exposure) and hype induced content.
In their journey to maximize platform profits, everything is designed to harm the creator in the long-term for the platform to benefit.
A premium bundle will allow for greater discoverability between the writers in the bundle, with none of the harm. As the bundle is a collective, the discoverability of others in the collective is beneficial to all - reducing churn and nudging more people to subscribe rather than competing for the same "subscription" budget.
It also does that while benefitting the wider brand, and creating an environment that favor quality over hype - earning more subscribers trust over time.
Additional revenue streams
Being a brand bundle give us a position for diversified revenue streams that are hard to pull off as individuals.
Sponsorships are something that reserve to publication with wide enough audience, which a bundle creates.
Case in point: the Every bundle of writers went into that direction.
As a business analysis bundle, the content will mostly be timely, thus merit a subscription. But the authors might also have "evergreen" things to say.
Books, courses, and more. The wider reach will allow for self publication in which the authors will keep most of the income.