Cameo is an online platform where users meet celebrities and get personalized videos at a price. They also help users to chat with stars through video calls and messages. People can also use this app to give anyone a shoutout from their favorite celebrity.
Steven Galanis and Martin Blencowe founded the company in 2017. Galanis and Blencowe preside as its board members, along with Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
Blencowe was an experienced NFL Agent. In 2016, he had helped NFL Star Cassius Marsh to record a video congratulating a friend on becoming father. He then showed the footage to Galanis at Galanis’s grandmother’s funeral. They thought about the feasibility of the business of connecting users and their fans. And that’s how Cameo started.
Since its start, Cameo has added more than 40,000 celebrities, like Snoop Dogg, Steve Harvey, and many more.
Cameo makes money by taking a 25-percent cut of each transaction. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been processed via the platform thus far. A personal shout-out from Caitlyn Jenner, coming in at $2,500 per video, currently stands as the most expensive offering on the platform.
Users, apart from personalized video messages, can also book live calls with their favorite celebrities. Cameo even has its own Instagram-like feed on which people can follow news related to their favorite celebrities.
Anyone can apply to be a celebrity on the app. The only requirement is to have 20,000 followers on Instagram and not be associated with any malicious organizations or beliefs.
Cameo’s parent company, Baron App Inc., is currently valued at $1 billion. They have raised over $165 million in funding from the likes of Softbank and other reputable investors.
The methodology with which competitors of Cameo are ranked is based on publicly available data. Information such as the number of celebrities, annual revenue figures, the number of customers, the number of employees, the amount of funding, and anything else in between will be considered.
Competitors from all over the world will be taken into account. It has to be noted that this analysis should not be seen as an endorsement of either service. It is merely a summary of the competition that Cameo faces today.
So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the top 8 competitors of Cameo.
Headquarters: London, United Kingdom Founder(s): Anjan Luthra Year Founded: 2020
Starting in 2020, Thrillz has enjoyed overnight success. Unlike Cameo, Thrillz is available only in the UK and the US. Their roster of celebs includes reality TV stars, musicians, comedians, kids celebrities, magicians, impersonators, and many more. These include Nigel Farage (British politician), Matt Le Tissier (British footballer), and Katie Price, among others.
Another feature of the app is they partner with charity foundations regularly. They give an option to donate to both celebs and users to any cause of their choice. They also offer a service to have a celebrity video call at virtual office parties for a high fee.
CEO and Founder Anjan Luthra had a background in accounting and finance and worked with a private equity firm when the idea hit him. He always had an “itch for being an entrepreneur”. In 2019, he decided to start an event management business alongside his day job.
But while working on his business, he faced a major problem. There was no proper platform available in the market where performers could post their services and fee for event organizers to book. He hired a remote team in Vietnam and helped develop the app while working full-time. Juggling two jobs was getting hectic for him. So, by late 2019, he decided to give up his day job and complete work on his startup.
Initially, getting celebrities on the platform was difficult. But with the covid-19 pandemic, most celebrities were workless due to halted productions. The lockdowns were a huge factor in the popularity of the app among celebrities as a source of income.
In 2021, they secured funding of £1.3 million ($1.8 million). Their current valuation stands at £9.9 million ($13 million. With the new funding, they plan to expand their London and Los Angeles teams, growing from 9 to 20 members.
Like Cameo, Thrillz also takes a 25% commission cut out of every booking appointment. Celebrities can also be booked by agencies for collaborations with other celebs.
Headquarters: San Francisco, California Founder(s): Peter Karpas, Ren Menon, Matthew Martin, and Randy Kessler Year Founded: 2017
The company started as an online platform for birthday shout-outs from celebrities. But today, StarSona is a competitor of Cameo for providing interactions with stars. StarSona is available on both iOS and Android app stores.
The idea for the app came between Peter Karpas and Randy Kessler in 2017. Kessler was a lawyer representing clients in the sports, music, and film industries. Kessler told Karpas about how his friends always ask him to meet a celebrity. Karpas had the eureka moment, and they created StarSona.
The Happy Birthday App was the first product from the team. This app version only focused on users paying a celebrity for personalized shout-outs for birthdays or any other special occasion.
With lockdowns during the pandemic, the team branched out to add video message services, Q&A sessions, and event announcements as a part of their services.
In 2020, StarSona was acquired by myFanPark, another startup specializing in personal celebrity interactions. This merger gave StarSona a strategic window to the global market. myFanPark had a much more global footprint on the market, with celebrities from Africa, Europe, and India.
StarSona has signed a roster of more than 200 celebrities on its platform. These celebs range from famous TV personalities, singers and musicians, sports stars, politicians, film stars, internet sensations, comedians as well as impersonators.
Starsona has managed to sign celebrities like sports commentator Randy Hahn, NBA Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins or former 49ers quarterback Steve Young. The fee for interactions ranges from $5 to $3500. The platform then gets a cut off the celebrity fee, within a minimum of 25%.
Headquarters: New York City, New York Founder(s): Brad Reisner, CoppyHolzman, Serena Chew Year Founded: 2005
Luxury charity auctions were already a mainstream event for raising money in the US. Charitybuzz bought those auctions to the online world. They offer auction experiences which include time spent with celebrities. The auction bid can be spent on the charity of the user or the celebrity’s choice. It’s a nonprofit organization, so they have tie-ups with many charities.
Holzman, who was already a successful dot-com-era CEO and founder of WebVan, started Charitybuzz with his partners Chew and Reisner. He got the idea of having an online platform for charity while having dinner with then US President Bill Clinton.
They have partnered with high-profile celebrities from almost every industry. Users can bid to have dinner with the Dalai Lama or get backstage access to a Beyonce concert. They have included bids for premium holiday homes and antiques. In 2017, they auctioned the first Apple computer, The Apple 1, and it was sold for $1 million.
The highest bid ever received by them is $610,000 for dinner with Apple CEO Tim Cook. Other popular auctions include bids for owning premium cars, meeting professional football teams, and having pitch meetings with venture capitalists.
Due to the company’s strong ethical business model, it did not face any liquidity crunch during the peak of the 2009 recession. In that year, they got bids for about $100 million and had more than one million online visitors on their website.
As it’s a nonprofit organization, they mostly keep a low 20% commission for each auction bid. This amount is kept to cover their operation cost. The rest of the money is donated to charities, and they have successfully raised more than $400 million for charity to date. Currently, they are operating with a team of 40 members.
They have raised money for many different charities, like UNICEF, Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research, WhyHunger, Humane Society, The Kristen Ann Carr Fund, and more. They provide their service to more than 3,200 charity foundations.
Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois Founder(s): Keithan and Quiante Hendrick Year Founded: 2019
The Candi app provides a similar service to Cameo. They connect users with their favorite stars. Cameo focuses on the benefit of shout-outs and providing personalized messages. Candi, on the other side, is developed with the idea of having direct video calls between users and celebrities.
The founders, Keithan and Quiante Hendrick, felt that Cameo was too much focused on the shout-out which wasn’t personal enough. Instead, they wanted their app to feature personal video calls and thus provide a more personalized user experience.
Another factor that differentiates Candi from other similar apps is the users can set the time for an online call with the celebrity. In Cameo and other apps, usually, it’s the other way around, the star chooses a time slot and the user has to be available in that time frame.
The Hendrick’s even went to Shark Tank in its season 13 to pitch for funding. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get any deal because of their high asking price for low equity ($500,000 for a 15% stake)
Due to the covid pandemic and their appearance on Shark Tank, Candi got an overwhelming response from the audience. They got actress and singer MYA as their first celebrity. After the pandemic and lockdowns, many other celebs joined the bandwagon.
The usual price ranges from $30 to $100, depending on the celebrity. An average call on the platform is to last for 5 minutes, but users can pay more for extra time. The founders also insist on having no other hidden charges and making the interaction genuine.
Headquarters: Cape Town, South Africa Founder(s): Joy Des Fountain, Matt Martin Year Founded: 2017
myFanPark is one of the first user-celebrity interaction platforms outside of the US and Europe. It started as a simple application where users can pay to get a shout-out or a personalized message from their favorite celebrity. They have later expanded by increasing their services and now have a strong foothold on the global market of the entertainment interaction industry.
Des Fountain, who had 12+ years of experience in corporate finance, always had an entrepreneurial spirit. She tried several rather failed hustles, like opening a cold-pressed juice bar to develop tech-based expense management systems. But her undying hustle spirit eventually led her to develop myFanPark.
Voted as one of the Top 5 Startups in South Africa, myFanPark has launched in major regions, including Switzerland, Germany, West Africa, and the Indian subcontinent.
Currently, myFanPark have partnered with more than 3,000 celebrities across 27 countries. They have also acquired StarSona to expand their footings in the US market and compete against the likes of Cameo.
Apart from basic service shout-outs, myFanPark have expanded their catalog to include services like private video calls and group activities such as makeup classes or fishing. Users pay a fee to book interactions with their favorite celebrity and the price ranges from $5 to $500. Like the other apps in this category, they also charge a commission of 25% from every interaction.
myFanPark employs a team of 10 members who overlook the platform stability and celebrity negotiations. Currently, they have established an average annual revenue of $1 million (income of $250,000 in commissions). They have also successfully gone through one round of funding, getting backing from Seed South Venture Capitals.
Headquarters: Cairo, Egypt Founder(s): Kamal Nazha, Mohamed El-Shinnawy Year Founded: 2020
Minly is one of the most prominent startups working to connect fans and celebrities in the MENA region (the Middle East and North Africa).
The company’s founder, El-Shinnawy, has more than 15 years of experience working on the technical side of the entertainment industry. His previous company, Emerge Technology, supported big Hollywood production houses like Sony Pictures, Universal, Fox, and Warner Brothers. He also brought digital media platforms like Apple TV, Disney+, and Netflix to the MENA region.
He always wanted to bring the world’s attention to Middle Eastern talent. He later sold Emerge Technology in the US and worked on his startup with his partners.
With his expertise and network, Minly created an impressive list of famous regional actors, influencers, and athletes on the app. Within the first year of its operation, the platform was attracting more than 50,000 users.
With the advent of social media and cheaper mobile data plans, the culture of influencers, YouTubers, and TikTokers is rising in MENA. Minly has taken advantage of this by including internet personalities in their rosters alongside traditional stars.
Users can buy shoutouts and personalized messages on the app. Minly takes a commission from every transaction done on the platform. They haven’t disclosed the amount of commission as of yet. Though Minly said that they pay most of the amount to the celebrity, they also encourage partnership with charities.
In early 2021, Minly went through 2 funding rounds successfully. Both rounds were oversubscribed, with investors coming from all around the world. The investors included Scooter Braun from SB Projects, Jason Finger, co-founder of GrubHub, Tiger Global Fund, and many more. They have raised a total of $3.6 million in investment.
Just six months after the funding, Minly acquired Oulo, a Dubai-based celebrity shoutout platform. This strategic move has improved Minly’s dominance in the Middle Eastern region and expanded its footings in new countries like Jordan and Lebanon. The new venture will operate under the brand name Minly.
Headquarters: Stockholm, Sweden Founder(s): Gustaf Lundberg Toresson, Tobias Bengtsdahl Year Founded: 2019
Meemo.me is the Swedish rival of Cameo and has shown tremendous growth during the pandemic. Founded in 2019, the company, like its other counterparts offers a video platform where users can pay for video messages from their favorite celebrities.
Gustaf Lundberg Toresson has been on corporate adventures all over the world, having experience from JP Morgan London to BCG Dubai. However, a chance encounter with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, while he was having dinner with his friends, left an impression on Toresson. He soon left his job and started his own company.
Memmo has partnered with more than 5,000 creators all over the world and has produced over 100,000 video messages. Celebrities on the platform include Luis Figo, Terrell Owens, and many others.
The covid pandemic became a huge accelerator for the company, as many artists could not find any work due to the lockdown. Many celebs started using the platform, some even earned around $20,000 a month. Between July 2020 and January 2021, their sales increased 17 times.
Though Memmo has a roster of big stars, they concentrate on highlighting the local and regional names. This is because of their belief that local names will have a stronger audience.
In 2021, they raised €10.25 million ($10.4 million) in seed investment, led by Left Lane Capital. By 2022, they went into another round of funding and successfully got a $10 million Series A investment. Now they plan to get another round of investment to raise the valuation to $100 million and become a unicorn.
They have also opened their second office in Los Angeles and have started to expand more globally. They plan to broaden their user base to cover countries like Germany, Italy, and Canada.
Headquarters: Mumbai, India Founder(s): AkshaySaini, Rahul Saini, and PranavChabhadia Year Founded: 2019
India is a celeb-crazy nation. Taking advantage of the celebrity hype in the country, founders AkshaySaini, Rahul Saini, and PranavChabhadia came up with a Cameo competitor which was local to their country.
AkshaySaini, who had been running successful stores in Mumbai, came up with the idea of developing a platform where users can meet their favorite celebrities. Along with his brother and friend, they established Tring in 2019.
Tring has partnered with more than 10,000 celebrities from various industries. These include personalities from movies, TV, sports, Instagram influencers, Youtubers, and famous public figures. These celebrities include movie stars like Sharman Joshi and Minisha Lamba, among many others.
Tring started with basic three types of services. Users can either get
- 30 seconds personalized message or shoutout from their favorite celebrity.
- 5 minutes video call. Tring also offers to have a group call of up to 4 friends.
- Text message reply on social media
Apart from the basic services, Tring has ventured into developing new offers. They started a subscription model for regular services. They also launched “Tring for Business” where small businesses can use celebrities for promotion and advertisement at a reasonable price.
To date, they have successfully gone through 2 rounds of funding, raising a total of $2.4 million from the country’s leading Video on Demand platform.
The price range of these interactions is in the range of Rs. 1000 to Rs. 6000 ($15 to $75) – out of which Tring takes 30% in commission. Currently, Tring is getting around 5 million monthly visits from users.
Tring also plans to venture more into the smaller cities and have planned to add regional stars and local social media influencers on their platform.