Innovation Fund 2018: Actually Good

The 2018 Innovation Fund, our annual crowdfunding competition, has officially launched! You can find all of the Innovation Fund participants here. Read on for the story of Actually Good, led by 2017 Fellows, Ariana Ross & Elisa Meyer, who is raising $12,000 to help comedians monetize their viral content.


Photo by Shiven Samant

My friends have gotten frustrated sending me memes that I’ve already seen. I know all the words to “It’s Everyday, Bro”, but ironically. I spend my car rides thinking of funny one-liners to tweet out to my ten friends who still actually go on Twitter in 2018. My name is Ari and I’m an internet comedy aficionado.

Beyond my love for comedy, I am passionate about looking at pop culture through a critical lense. Last spring, I made a short film for my senior art thesis; a collection of music videos that challenged traditional representations of women in digital media. Examining the sociological impact of commercial art has also shown me the incredible way the internet has democratized comedy. Today, we have a collection of diverse, groundbreaking voices shaking up the comedy world and making us laugh from our computer screens (some of the funniest things on the internet were created by random kids on Vine). Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean comedy creators are fairly supported in their work.

Over the past year, online communities have been buzzing about the challenges videos creators face getting paid. I’ve heard a chorus of my favorite comedians lamenting how it’s nearly impossible to make a living on Youtube. This is because income from Youtube is based off ad revenue shares contingent upon video view counts, and many creators are forced to pad their income with product sponsorships to support themselves.

These challenges are faced by creators outside of mainstream Youtube success, whose content isn’t being constantly shoved down our throats by social media algorithms. They’re faced by the people who hustle to create videos for their small but loyal followings, and with smaller view counts comes smaller incomes. Without a designated budget, many of these creators have to pass up some of their most creative ideas because they don’t have the ability to fund them. To make matters worse, people who make “edgier” content are often demonetized by Youtube for being less ad-friendly.

One night in in early January, I was contemplating these issues and had a sudden lightbulb moment. Fans want to support their favorite underrated video creators, and will even pay money to do so in exchange for quality entertainment. I realized that I could facilitate that support, while simultaneously helping creators take creative risks and produce more groundbreaking content.

This realization allowed me to come up with Actually Good, a subscription video on demand platform that will support and showcase rising comedic talent.

Actually Good will curate a group of talented, up-and-coming comedy video creators. We will pay them fairly for their videos and cover their production costs, allowing them to create high quality, groundbreaking web series. In turn, fans will pay an accessible subscription fee to access our platform and stream videos by our entire lineup of comedians. Viewers get to watch videos that are Actually Good, and we are Actually Good to our creators.

With this mission in mind, I entered VFA’s Validation Challenge where I reconnected with another 2017 fellow, Elisa Meyer. Elisa has a background in web development and once considered a career in dance. With her background in the arts, the technical skills we need, an unflappable demeanor, and fearlessness that matched my own, we became partners and hit the ground running on Actually Good.

After a successful Validation Challenge, we joined VFA’s Innovation Fund to raise the money we need to make our dream a reality. We set a lofty goal of raising $12,000 in the four short weeks of the competition. The money we fundraise will be spent on hiring creators, covering production costs, building out our platform, and marketing to viewers. Leveraging creators’ networks and speaking directly to loyal fanbases will allow us to reach our customers, and we will subsequently facilitate the creation of hilarious, cutting-edge comedy videos.

Since the competition started, Elisa and I have made incredible progress on Actually Good. We’ve thrown fundraising events, organized fun social media competitions, and gotten our name out to local Cincy and Baltimore press. We’ve been so lucky to receive so much support from friends, family, and kind strangers, and we’re humbled by the way comedians have rallied around our mission. I’m energized to be working on a project that so closely aligns with my passions and that aims to adequately compensate creative people for their work.



Photos from our comedy show fundraiser at VFA’s office in NYC

To learn more about Actually Good’s mission, check out our Indiegogo campaign. To stay up to date on our progress, follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Share our campaign with anyone you think might be interested in what we’re building, and please reach out to if you want to learn more about other ways to help!


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