By Sahil Patel
Laffster, an online video and crowdfunding platform that helps comedians raise money for special projects and causes from their biggest fans, is rebranding itself as Cogo as it expands to other verticals beyond comedy.
The goal at Cogo remains the same: to help creators (of all types now) find fundraising for their projects and causes.
What’s different about Cogo is its method. Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, Cogo’s model prioritizes helping creators reach their “superfans” by introducing a “telethon” model to crowdfunding. Simply put, creators host a live-streamed show — which can run anywhere from an hour to a few hours — and in return raise money from viewers, who are most likely to be that creator’s biggest fans. Along the way, creators can offer various custom perks, similar to the types of things you’d find on platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
To date, Laffster/Cogo has run nearly 100 comedy shows to raise money for various projects and causes. Among the more notable ones, there was the quartet of Jimmy Pardo, Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm, and Patton Oswalt raising over $140,000 for the Smile Train charity in just 12 hours, as well as YouTuber Timothy DeLaGhetto (2.3 million subs) raising $9,000 in 90 minutes for the Philippines and World Food Programme.
Cogo’s work with DeLaGhetto highlights another unique element of Cogo’s crowdfunding model, according to company founder and CEO Dan Altmann. Cogo allows creators to make their crowdfunding campaigns “dynamic,” he says. For instance, DeLaGhetto hosted a small live-stream in his home to raise money for the Philippines. The response he received from viewers was more than he originally expected. So, as Altmann explains it, DeLaGhetto continued to add new incentives as the live-stream went on, ultimately raising $9,000 in a short amount of time.
But Cogo isn’t only for non-profit and charitable causes. As platforms like Subbable and TubeStart look to help creators finance their content, so to can Cogo.
“Unlike ad-driven models, [Cogo] doesn’t need to have a million people watching for [a show] to be successful,” says Altmann. “Superfans make up for a million non-superfans. We’ve had really successful shows with 500, or 1,000–2,000 people watching — they brought in the same revenue that you’d need millions of views on YouTube to achieve.”
This is why Altmann stresses that Cogo wants to work with creators who can activate a community of highly engaged fans. The application process (which begins by visiting Cogo’s website) prioritizes an active creator who regularly interacts with his or her audience across social networks, rather than one who passes a certain “number threshold” on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter.
And to make it easier for creators, Altmann says Cogo can provide a video player of its own, or create an experience around third-party players (YouTube, Twitch, etc.) — whichever is easier for the creator and the audience he or she is trying to reach.
As Cogo rebrands and expands, it will look to work with various actors, authors, musicians, and athletes, in addition to comedians. The company has already booked upcoming live shows from the likes of Questlove, the cast of “Glee,” Ken Burns, Fred Armisen, and John Oliver, along with various YouTubers the platform is already working with.
Next up: A Comedy Gives Back live-stream featuring comedians Moshe Kasher, Bryan Callen, and Andy Kindler, which will air on February 13 to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of America.