Stipop offers developers and creators instant access to a huge global sticker library

 Stipop's collection of colourful, character-driven emotions has something for everyone, with over 270,000 stickers to choose from.

Ad-supported mobile apps on iOS and Android offer keyboard and social app stickers, but the company has recently shifted its attention to delivering stickers to developers, producers, and other web businesses.

Stipop co-founder Tony Park told TechCrunch, "We were able to gather so many artists since we actually began as our own app that supplied stickers." The team applied what they learned from running their own consumer-facing service — notably, that collecting and licencing hundreds of thousands of stickers from artists all over the world is difficult — to assist others to tackle the same problem.

Stipop was the first Korean startup to be accepted into Snapchat's private accelerator, Yellow. The startup is also a part of the Summer 2021 batch at Y Combinator.

The searchable sticker library from Stipop is accessible via an SDK and API, allowing developers to integrate it into their existing software. More than 200 companies now use the company's massive sticker collection, which provides a "single-day solution" for a process that would otherwise need a lot more labour. Stipop just developed a website that enables developers to quickly integrate its SDK and API.

“They will have a fully personalised sticker function [so] consumers will be able to liven up their discussions with just a single line of code inside their product,” Park said.

Stickers, according to Park, enhance engagement, which means growth for social software. Stickers are a fun way to send characters back and forth in chat, but they can also be found in a variety of less obvious places, such as dating apps, e-commerce sites, and transportation applications. Stipop even powers the sticker search in Microsoft Teams, a business collaboration platform.

Google has already cooperated with Stipop, and the company's sticker collection is used in Gboard, Android Messages, and Tenor, a GIF keyboard platform that Google purchased in 2018. Within the first month, the alliance generated 600 million sticker views. In the near future, Stipop and Coca-Cola will announce a new relationship that will add Coke-branded stickers to its sticker library, as well as open its doors to more brands who recognise the particular attraction of stickers in messaging apps.

People often compare stickers and gifs, two means of expressing emotion and social complexity without using words, but stickers are a world unto themselves, according to Park. Stickers have their own creative universe, complete with celebrity painters, regional themes, and unique casts of characters that take on a life of their own among fans. Park explained, "Sticker designers have their own career."

Even without complex graphics, visual artists can gain a lot of popularity by distributing stickers. Non-designers and less competent artists can also create hit stickers because they're all about the message rather than elegance.

“Stickers are fantastic for them because they can easily become viral,” Park explained. In 25 languages, the company has worked with 8,000 sticker producers to help them commercialise their work and earn money based on how many times a sticker is shared.

Stickers have their own visual language all across the world, and Park has noticed some fascinating cultural variances in how people interact with them. Stickers are widely used in place of text in the West, while in Asia, where they are used far more frequently, stickers are typically sent to enhance rather than replace the meaning of the text.

Simple black and white stickers are popular in East Asia, whereas colourful, golden stickers are popular in India and Saudi Arabia. Popular stickers in South America take on a more pixelated, distinctive quality that connects culturally.

“You fall in love with [the] characters you transmit... that becomes you,” Park explained.