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Charlottesville tech startup provides U.Va. students, alumni experience in creator economy space

Glimmr — a social media platform founded by U.Va. students — seeks to empower genuine connections among content creators, supporters and communities

Social media is transforming pop culture as we know it. TikTok stars and Instagram influencers are increasingly delivering relatable, engaging content, and modern consumers are eager to interact with them on a personal level. On social media, however, up-and-coming creators often face one key dilemma — a means to turn their side hustle into a profitable venture while continuing to authentically connect with fans. 

Glimmr — a platform where users can pay to personally interact with creators — hopes to resolve this dichotomy using an original pricing model called FairPay. While traditional social media apps like Patreon and Cameo force creators to price their own content, Glimmr’s FairPay allows fans to initiate the pricing of messaging interactions or monthly subscriptions to a creator’s content. In turn, the creator never has to price their own content and can decide whether or not to accept the fans’ pricing.

Jefferson Griscavage, a fourth-year dual degree Darden School of Business and School of Medicine student, was inspired to start Glimmr after noticing that other pricing models force creators to choose between raising the price of their content and maintaining connections with fans. In May, Griscavage used his connections at the University to bring Glimmr to life.

“I was already tied into the U.Va. entrepreneurial ecosystem through Darden and the Batten Institute,” Griscavage said. “We got incorporated, we got up and running and we haven’t looked back since.” 

In the meantime, Griscavage utilized LinkedIn to assemble a virtual team of University students and alumni to work on the platform before it becomes available to the public in December. This includes first-year College student Lydia Church, who has worked as Glimmr’s marketing intern since August. 

“I started working mostly with creator acquisition,” Church said. “I’ve been reaching out to creators and having conversations with them to get to know what the creators want in the app and to hear their feedback.”

Church has helped Glimmr recruit content creators like Class of 2021 alumnus Jason Wang, a Youtube vlogger with over 18,000 subscribers who makes content about college life at the University. Church noted that experiences in marketing like this afford her unique opportunities outside of her coursework at the University. 

“I think it’s really neat to get involved in the Charlottesville entrepreneurial community,” Church said. “It’s also cool meeting and networking with other students at U.Va. who are pursuing both undergraduate and graduate degrees in different fields and backgrounds from mine.”

Second-year Engineering student Nicholas Miller worked alongside Church as Glimmr’s software design intern. Miller noted he’s been balancing his coursework with his responsibilities at Glimmr. 

“I’m pretty busy with school, but Glimmr is really conscientious of that,” Miller said. “A lot of the workers are students as well so they’re understanding. They’ve been good at assigning an appropriate amount of work each week so that I’m not overwhelmed, but I’m able to get it done.”

Additionally, both Church and Miller have enjoyed the more personal, tight-knit work environment of the small startup. 

“I feel like there’s a more cooperative environment in a startup where there’s not so much hierarchy as there is just working together to get things done,” Miller said. 

Church agreed, adding that the leadership team at Glimmr is always receptive to her ideas for the platform despite her being an undergraduate. She noted that this makes her feel like she’s involved in the company culture as a whole, rather than isolated to her individual job. 

For Class of 2021 alumnus Daniel Chen, being a part of the Glimmr team as the public relations officer has given him something to look forward to as a busy medical student.

“Med school has been tough, but Glimmr has almost been my self-care or wellness project because the team is so amazing,” Chen said. “Everyone brings in their own personality and all the ideas come together to create this amazing product and company as a whole.”

As Glimmr moves into the final stages of product development, the entire team looks forward to spreading a positive impact into the creator economy space and beyond. The platform is slated to launch by December, giving fans the opportunity to message, subscribe, and interact with creators for whatever price they see fit. 

“We just want to become a tool that empowers these smaller creators to monetize their following,” Griscavage said. “The media is trending that way — it‘s inevitable. We hope to be that new way for entertainment creators to earn a living doing what they love.”