Young Entrepreneur: Tiffany Kelly

Next: Finding Success in the Creator Economy

While working as a data scientist at ESPN, Tiffany Kelly noticed that video content creators were taking the Internet by storm at the same time that some long-standing ESPN franchises, such as sports talk radio show Mike & Mike, were getting canceled. She had a theory that those two trends were related. “ESPN was competing with YouTubers for the first time in history,” she says.

In 2019, when she left ESPN, the now-29-year-old turned those observations into a business, launching Curastory, a platform that helps content creators distribute and monetize their videos. While anyone can be a creator on the platform, the company started by targeting student athletes, giving them the tools they needed to get paid by brands for sharing their knowledge, skills, and content via digital platforms. “Everyone thought I was crazy for quitting a six-figure job where I was comfortable,” Kelly says. But her parents urged her to explore her new dream even if risk was involved.

Kelly had made contacts in the venture capital community, through a previous start-up venture with a friend that didn’t work out. She reached out to those contacts, and with their help raised $250,000 for Curastory within a few months. With the money, she hired a few key employees including an engineer and a designer. Soon after, the company raised $2.1 million in seed funding and scored a deal with the National Basketball Players Association that led to a group of professional players using the platform.

Along with the successes have come a few setbacks. When the economy slowed, for example, the company had to downsize from 20 employees to 5. But Curastory ended 2023 on a high note, closing the year with $2.5 million in revenue, “quadrupling what we got last year,” Kelly says.

Building a company, she notes, has been one of the most difficult things she has ever done. “To have ebbs and flows all the time—the journey is difficult.” But Kelly wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’m an entrepreneur for life.”

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