Emojis are a big and growing market — especially for celebrities — and one new start-up is trying to capitalize on the boom.
Reality television icon Kim Kardashian ("Kimoji"), NBA star Steph Curry ("StephMoji") and even actor Charlie Sheen ("Sheenoji") are just a few of the celebrities that have found additional fame and fortune in the playful digital characters that have taken over modern-day electronic communications. Billions of them are transmitted between devices every second, amid a new push to make emojis more racially and ethnically diverse.
Against that backdrop, tech entrepreneur Dana Loberg is trying to take a page from Netflix, by turning her upstart platform into a thriving network for the vast sea of digital stickers and emoji.
Loberg's start-up MojiLaLa is one of many growing marketplaces for digital characters, but allows artists to contribute to the collection of available stickers in the MojiLaLa keyboard, which offers more than 12,000 stickers. They can then earn money on the distribution of that art, receiving 50 percent of sales profits.
Loberg, who also started a social platform for movies and trailers called MovieLaLa, called the model the "Netflix for Stickers."
"Everyone is on the go, mobile and super busy, people do a lot of communication on the fly because we're very inundated with communication when it comes to this era," Loberg told CNBC recently. Her venture has raised seed funding from small start-ups and several angel investors, which she declined to name. This week, MojiLaLa will open a new funding round with a goal of raising $1.5 million.
So what's the business appeal in emojis?
"In general, I think things are moving to shorter form content, very visual images," she added, citing Snapchat, Bitmoji and augmented reality as part of this trend. She also predicted stickers would take on a more animated form as these visual avenues have become a way to consolidate emotions for communication.
For consumers, the company will offer an unlimited subscription plan that requires a monthly payment but allows them full-access cross stickers to search and use the art without restriction. Celebrity-driven keyboards, or other third-party keyboards, typically require the download of a separate app.
MojiLaLa combines various works of digital art, and lets users download one app — while having access to a range of artists. It's also compatible with Apple's iMessage, as well as other chat apps. The company's app is live in Apple's app store.
As a former artist, Loberg told CNBC her intent is to bridge the gap between technology and artists. The community offers artists in the digital age a chance to create on a new platform as content moves increasingly toward mobile, and starts them off with an auto-generated sticker pack.
These artists can not only monetize on the sales but also increase their own visibility via MojiLaLa's distribution.
"We've had over 10,000 emojis submitted within three months" said Loberg. "Now we're starting to import their sticker packs into Line, Messenger and Telegram," she said, citing a few of the available electronic message apps.
"We've already started to do some payouts with some of them on our platform," she added.