So, what does Influencer do?
Influencer is an influencer marketing platform, which connects brands with a vetted network of influential content creators on social media to create branded content at scale. While we are first and foremost a platform, we do also offer a managed service to brands who would like our team of in-house experts to manage their campaign for them.
What’s behind the business idea?
I originally had the idea for Influencer when I was 15 years old. As a teenager, I ran a clothing brand called Breeze. With millions of people using adblockers on their web browsers, I had to come up with creative solutions in order to advertise my brand. I knew I couldn’t afford celebrity endorsements so, instead, I reached out to the Chelsea reserve team, who were, what we now call, micro creators. They didn’t come with the huge price tag of other celebrities, or the Chelsea first team, but they still had large followings of dedicated fans.
The problem with these creators was that they didn’t know how to price themselves and when I reached out to marketing agencies, they’d require an unrealistic starting budget. I quickly realised there was a huge gap in the market, as there was no one out there specialising in this micro niche, so I quit Breeze and set up Influencer, and I haven’t looked back since!
Was it hard becoming a business owner?
I think all business owners find it hard when starting out. One of my main challenges was my age. When I originally set up Influencer, I was only 16. A lot of people didn’t take me seriously and I found this extremely frustrating, especially as, having grown up on social media, I felt my understanding of the industry and space was extremely strong.
How did you recruit your employees?
I originally met my business partner and Influencer’s Co-founder, YouTuber Caspar Lee, through a friend. We met for a quick coffee, which ended up being a four hour creative session on ways to develop and improve Influencer. The main things Caspar and I look for in our team are a passion for influencer marketing and an eagerness to learn. We also want an office of team players. As a startup, its key that everyone is eager to roll their sleeves up and get involved.
Was there a breakthrough moment?
The first breakthrough moment was during Influencer’s first round of funding on Crowdcube. Prior to this, I had worked in a pub on my gap year to raise money to create the Influencer platform. However, at the end of the year, the developers I had been working with ran off with my money. I turned to Crowdcube and in under 24 hours, we managed to raise £152,790 of investment from 139 different investors. I was able to use this money to turn Influencer from an agency to a SaaS platform – it was a huge moment in mine and Influencer’s journey!
How is the company doing?
I couldn’t be more proud of the company. Influencer is working with some of the world’s biggest brands and agencies, to create thousands of pieces of beautiful content for influencer marketing campaigns. The Influencer team has grown from 4, this time last year, to 22, and is going from strength to strength as each member brings with them their own creative ideas and expertise.
Do you have any regrets? If so, how did you overcome them?
As I mentioned before, I worked on my gap year to be able to afford some initial developers to bring the platform to life, but they ran off with my savings. I was new to business and I rushed into things, due to my excitement to get things started. I now make sure to review everything thoroughly before I make any long term decisions!
What makes you stand out from your competitors?
Influencer has three pillars, which we believe set us apart; our technology, our creator relationships and our expertise. Firstly, we are continuously developing a state-of-the-art, market leading influencer platform that adapts and changes to meet the evolving needs of the influencer marketing industry. Secondly, with Caspar Lee as our CMO, as well as several other creator investors, our creator relationships are second to none. We spend time getting to know our creators, through creators events and our dedicated Creator Relationships Manager. That way, we know exactly who is right for which brand and which campaign. Thirdly, we have an amazing team of in-house experts. Having run over 300 influencer campaigns, our team have the knowledge to deliver on our clients goals and to think ahead, steer our offering in the right direction, and offer greater added value to our clients.
What is your definition of a positive customer experience?
I believe a positive customer experience is when a customer comes away with exactly what they came for. In influencer marketing terms, this might be increased brand awareness, an increase in sales or multiple pieces of beautiful and informative content to use in their marketing initiatives. At Influencer, we want our customers to be able to put in minimal effort for maximum return.
You’re currently reaching out for investors, what do you plan to do when you have raised this funding?
As I mentioned, the Influencer platform and technology is of the highest importance to us. Our goal is to provide brands and agencies with a single platform for all their influencer marketing needs and, in order to do this, we put back as much as possible into the platform.
If you could help a business now with a single piece of advice, what would it be?
Surround yourself with people who have different ideas and expertise to you – it’s amazing how much your business will flourish!
Finally, Ben what is your favourite biscuit?!
Chocolate Hobnobs, of course.