When Google moved to “work from home” due to COVID-19 in 2020, I was a Founder-in-Residence in Area 120, Google’s incubator for experimental products. I had spent the prior two years in Area 120 developing Kormo, a jobs marketplace for the “next billion users” in India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. With time at home to revisit my passion for music and writing, I had a chance to reflect on my belief in creator entrepreneurship, and how to make it part of what I built next.
After spending time with dozens of creators, we consistently heard that building a digital creator business is time-consuming and difficult. This sparked a new project idea: Qaya, a product that provides web storefronts for creators who want to sell products and services directly to their audiences. Today, as part of Area 120, we are announcing Qaya’s U.S. beta launch.
Qaya is a small and agile team dedicated to helping creators build businesses on the web. Our project began with a simple idea: creators are the next generation of entrepreneurs. As the CEOs of their own businesses, they need the same commercial tools as any successful founder. Since we began live testing in early 2021, we’ve learned a lot from creators on Qaya, their fans and other creator economy projects.
Creators on Qaya sell everything from trapeze workout guides to wellness training videos, photo filters, beat packs, ASMR read-alouds, productivity templates, knitting patterns and much more. We support pay-gated and free products, with tipping, subscription and other monetization types coming soon.
Creators use Qaya as the hub for their business activity across the web. Many link to their Qaya storefronts from their social media bios, and showcase digital products they upload or products and services hosted on other sites. We provide custom yourname.channel or qaya.store/your-name URLs, with payment functionality built in.
We also developed customer management and analytics tools that creators use to connect with their fans and understand sales and content performance.
Lastly, we know it’s important for creators to grow their audiences. So we’ve started to integrate with other Google products, including YouTube’s Merch Shelf. If you’re an eligible YouTube creator, you can now promote products from Qaya directly below videos on your YouTube channel.
We’re focused on the U.S. today, but hope to bring Qaya to more countries soon. And, we’re exploring ways to support creators as they experiment with other types of digital goods.
Google has always invested in creators, from publishers on the early internet to YouTubers today. Our goal with Qaya is to explore new ways to continue this work: giving creators tools to build successful, owner-operated businesses on the web.