Hustle Mindset

Viola Carmona Created Tussle, A Livestream Platform, Following Her Experiences With Her Peers Who Needed Help Managing Their Earnings From TikTok


As the future of short-form video-hosting platform TikTok remains uncertain, one user is already creating a new home for creators.

Viola Carmona is the founder of Tussle, an emerging livestream platform described as “the ultimate battle app” for creators to thrive. Carmona told AFROTECH™ that the concept emerged following the experiences of her online peers who needed help with their earnings from TikTok through livestreams.

TikTok’s Live feature, launched in 2019, allows creators to earn virtual gifts in the form of diamonds from supporters to earn revenue, the company website mentions.

The more creators utilize this feature, the more they can be rewarded. Per TikTok, creators can earn a 50% split with the company following deductions for “the required payments to app stores, payment processors, and any other adjustment required under our terms and policies.”

In December 2023, a report revealed that TikTok has generated $10 billion in total global consumer spending, and users have tipped $11 million daily to influencers on the platform. While this seems hopeful, Carmona notes that her peers have expressed feeling short-changed in comparison.

“Some of my creator friends that I built a community with, they found a lot of problems with TikTok. One, there was that 50/50 split, and by the time they actually got that 50%, it was whittled down to 40%. So, you would see creators spend hours on LIVE. I’m talking about almost 24-hour livestreams, and they would get a minimal amount of money. Most of it would go to TikTok,” Carmona told AFROTECH™.

She added, “There were also a lot of bans. They were getting bananas [unfavorable gestures] for things because it’s a 13-and-older app… So it was getting really restrictive for people, and when they would get banned or a banana, they would lose all of their income. So not only the money they earned on the app, but they would lose the ability to make money because they would get banned for long periods of time for like the silliest things.”

It would take an appearance in a livestream for Carmona to conjure a solution for creators. A peer inquired about her role in financial technology (fintech) and suggested she should turn her attention to building an application that would address their challenges on TikTok.

Tussle is the result and is currently in its beta phase with 8,000 users. In contrast, the livestream forward platform will offer a 60/40 split with creators, tipping the scales in favor of creators. To provide further incentives, Tussle will introduce a ranking system based on the number of hours spent on the livestream.

“Once they hit those ranks, if you’re spending 24 hours, 12 hours, 10 hours on a live stream, you’re actually getting ranked based off your gift,” Carmona explained. “You’re getting gift levels. We reward you with an extra percentage. So if you make it to the top three for the day, you’re getting anywhere between an extra 5% to 7% back to your earnings.”

Not only are creators poised to benefit from Tussle, but gifters will also be rewarded for supporting creators. Supporters can purchase tokens via its website or in the app to obtain animated gifts, which will have their own names, such as “The Lion” or “The Kraken,” to allocate to a creator, according to information provided to AFROTECH™.

Photo Credit: Tussle

Carmona intentionally included this feature on Tussle after being teased for sending creators money on TikTok. However, she sees the merit and value in supporting entertainment and will introduce rewards for gifters.

“In order to help the creator and also to help the gifter feel better about themselves, we decided to have incentives for gifter levels,” Carmona said. “So you’re earning merch, you’re earning trips, you’re earning different types of rewards for gifting and being a part of a team, so that it’s both a win-win situation.” 

Photo Credit: Tussle

What’s more, to foster a fairer creator economy, users — who must be 18 and above — will immediately have the opportunity to monetize their content without any prerequisites, such as follower count. Additionally, the platform’s algorithm will amplify all content every 15 minutes.

“Our ‘for you’ page is bias-free, where we push everyone out every 15 minutes. So you stand on the strength of your content, not on the color of your skin… Access is huge for us. Most of our team are women of color. It’s really important for us to make sure that we create access for minority communities,” Carmona explained.

Access for users will also extend to mental health resources. All users can receive up to three months of support from providers, who can be found through a network gathered by Tussle’s chief clinical officer, Dr. Micaela Reece. Insurance will not be required to obtain support.

“There has been a large number of social media content creators who’ve committed suicide, which is unfortunate due to the constant bullying and harassment,” Carmona mentioned. “And they have no one to turn to because it’s considered a gig economy type of work. Most of those people don’t have access to healthcare, especially here in the United States.”

Carmona, who was diagnosed with mental health challenges following her time in the military, says receiving proper help and care was lifesaving. Integrating these resources was a “no-brainer” for the founder.

“If you’re spending that much time on social media, you’re also being exposed to negative comments,” she said. “You’re being exposed to a variety of different people from all over the world. And that could have negative impacts on your mental health. So we provide access to mental health services for the content creator to access free of charge.” 

Tussle will officially launch on April 12, 2024. According to its LinkedIn page, the platform has already generated $100,000 in revenue.

Carmona aspires to achieve a $5 million milestone by the end of the year and attract 10 million users. However, she notes that the platform’s success will be measured by the stable flow of income to creators.

“Our goal is 10 million users and $5 million in gross revenue. But it’s those 10 million users actually finding a permanent income that they’re comfortable with on our platform. That’s what success is, where they can get a stable flow of income… with all the uncertainty,” Carmon elaborated. “Even with TikTok, if they don’t go anywhere, a live streamer’s income is very uncertain on that platform. You can get banned for anything at any moment. So for us, success is when someone can say, ‘This is what I do for a living, and I don’t have to worry about feeding my family.’”

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