🦄 Unicorner Startup of the Week: Zette
✍️ Notes From The Editors
We’ve got a lot of exciting news in store for today's cover...
First, this week’s article is one we spent a lot of time making just right. In addition to the detailed content, we’re also sharing the opportunity to invest in Zette. If you’re interested, just reply to this email for an intro. 
Second, we're changing up the Founders section with an updated bio. Feel free to share any feedback with us by replying to this email. We always appreciate it.
Lastly, this is our first sponsored article. While we’ve been compensated to bring you this deep dive, we believe in Zette’s mission like any other potential unicorn-to-be that we share with you. We hope you enjoy the article, and let us know if you find the hidden easter egg! And stay tuned for some bonus content that's a bit different than usual 👀
- Ethan and Arek 🦄
Unlock paywalled articles
Zette is aiming to be the “Netflix for News” by granting readers access to articles behind paywalls. Once a user has joined the Zette platform, they can use the Zette Chrome extension to bypass paywalls with a single click from any of the 100+ publications with which Zette has partnered. Zette works directly with publishers to add them onto its platform.
🔗 Check it out: zette.com
💰 Business Model
Zette offers three tiers of pricing called “Light Reader,” “Daily Reader,” and “Avid Reader,” which offer 30, 60, and 90 credits, respectively. Each credit corresponds to one paywall removed. Depending on their tier, users can also have one month of credit rollover or purchase additional credits. Zette uses a revenue-sharing business model with its publishers, targeting a 50-50 split, ensuring publishers can still be paid. Sign up here for a 30-day free trial.
📈 Traction and Fundraising
  • Raised $1.7 million over-subscribed Pre-Seed from Afore Capital, Halogen Ventures, Hyphen Capital, The Community Fund, and MGV Capital Group
  • Added 100+ publishers through licensing deals with publishers like Forbes with plans to add publishers including TechCrunch, The New Yorker, The Economist, and hundreds more in the coming year
  • Around 10,000 users on the waitlist
  • Currently raising a seed round: $6 million on a $36 million post-money SAFE with $1.5 million allocated. If you’re interested in investing, reply to this email for an intro.
👫 Founders
Yehong Zhu, CEO
It’s a passion for journalism that drove Yehong Zhu to launch Zette. After writing about business trends at Forbes, she was curious about the business models of media companies and wanted to explore ways to improve them. Her experience with subscriptions and the barriers of entry they posed when she wanted to read her friends’ articles led to the “a-ha moment” behind Zette. Previously, Yehong worked as a product manager at Twitter and graduated from Harvard with a joint degree in Philosophy and Government. She’s also a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree in Media.
💼 Opportunities
Want to stay updated on opportunities at Zette? Fill this out and we’ll let you know when we find a role that fits your profile.
🔮 Our Analysis
Journalism has been in dire straits since the popularization of the internet. More people online has meant a shift in consumer behavior—with most people getting their news digitally and only half as many people subscribed to physical newspapers in 2020 compared to 2000. This shift has meant a scramble for publishers as they compete for a digital presence, leading to one of the most significant problems for publishers today: monetization. How can digital publications make money and what models work best? As consumers of news, we’ve seen ad-supported business models, subscriptions, and many more attempts at making money. Zette is bringing a new business model to publishers while giving readers a unique way to browse the news.
In a world of ad blockers and consumers who can now find information anywhere online, ad-supported and subscription models are a hard sell. This is a problem that CEO Yehong Zhu encountered herself when she realized she couldn’t afford to read the articles her friends were writing. Zette’s model enables users to read content from many different sources, giving them the freedom to read from any source online. With its one-click solution, it’s also removing the hassle of sign-ups and balancing multiple subscriptions that readers face, all while fairly compensating publishers. It’s like Apple News+, but in the words of Zhu, it “meets the users where the user is,” as opposed to a closed ecosystem like Apple’s offering.
Moreover, Zette has demonstrated some of the most important types of traction with an early-stage company. It has cemented partnerships with top publishers and grown a significantly large user base. As it grows, it plans to build out more partnerships and release iOS and Android apps. With all this and more, Zette has proven to be an exciting startup to follow. We hope to report only good news on the company.
📚 Further Reading
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💰 Bonus Content
Unicorner was recently featured in an interview! Check it out here to see us talk about tips on building a newsletter, why Unicorner's mission speaks to us, and more. Thank you to NewsNook for the awesome coverage!
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