2 min read
Crater is a revolution in local TV led by a new generation of creators.
In college, I spent considerable time exploring how to use AI to solve creative problems. My curiosity in this space grew as I began to notice the rapid rise of mobile video and the spiraling decline of local media—both caused by social media’s economic incentives. I became convinced the booming creator economy needed new cutting-edge tools to fuel a revolution in storytelling.
In November 2017, I recruited a highly creative and deeply technical team of engineers and designers to pursue this vision. Together we formed Crater, a synthetic media startup building local TV for a new generation of creators. We built an AI-powered video production app, got funding, and were featured as an NYC startup to watch.
- Arpit Sheth (CEO), Kirollos Morkos (CTO), Vu Francois, and Marco White
- Fundraised $130,000 from pre-seed investors and angels
- Worked with 50 creators in a private beta
- Garnered 1,700+ people on waitlist
- Partnered with Citizen, Patch, and NYC media outlets
- Cornell Tech Startup Awards Winner (Press)
- Cornell Venture Challenge Winner (Press)
- NYC Startup to Watch (Press)
As Co-founder and CEO, I recruited the team, crafted the company vision, and pitched to investors. I fundraised $130,000 from pre-seed investors and angels. This is one of the early investor decks I made.Crater Pitch Deck (.pdf)
I also managed the product roadmap, tracked sprint OKRs, prototyped features, conducted user interviews, and built our marketing website. We worked with 50 creators in a private beta and garnered 1,700+ people on our waitlist.
This product demo is a culmination of some of that work.
These screenshots show how our product evolved over time. As we ran more experiments and got user feedback, we doubled down on AI-powered synthetic media creation.
We made the right early bets on our core product features—right as vertical video started picking up steam midway through our journey. Instagram rolled out IGTV that summer; YouTube responded with support soon after; and about a year and a half later, TikTok started taking the American youth by storm.
In addition the technical and product challenges, our team was motivated by the social impact of making space online for local storytelling. We did a deep-dive into internet content culture and the role of technology and media in a democracy. This was some of my favorite research to reference early on.
As CEO, my top priority was the happiness of my teammates. I believe chasing ambition is a marathon so I try to make it a fun and inclusive process. Our cultural values reflected that.
- Progressive — Be open-minded to diverse ideas and identities at the forefront of social issues
- Authentic — Be honest with yourself and unapologetic, curious, and appreciative towards others
- DIY — Be a helping hand with your resourceful, resilient, and independent background
- Quirky — Be proud to express yourself in innovative, unorthodox, and witty ways
Out of all that we accomplished, I am most proud of the people I recruited. We were a highly creative and deeply technical team, which made building so electrifying! As we grinded through the highs and lows of founding a startup, I came to admire each one of my co-founders for their resilient backgrounds, willingness to make sacrifices, and how that motivated them to achieve excellence on our team.
Your land, your story.
Building a company is hard stuff. I’m glad I did it with some friends and had fun along the way.
This is my Crater story. Thanks for reading!
Crater on the App Store.