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Six huge, pumped up bodyguards in black attire are escorting a 26-year-old to his suite after a meet and greet session with his fans at a plush Delhi hotel in Connaught Place. The 500+ fans who gathered are vying for a selfie, an autograph- anything they can manage- but the bodyguards are a seasoned lot and take their subject to safety. This isn’t a Bollywood actress, an A-list actor or some reality TV star- it’s a comedy influencer who creates humorous content on YouTube for his followers, who are more than 6 million in number.
It’s no state secret that influencers are the new celebrities. What started off on YouTube and Facebook, spilled over to Instagram and other social media platforms, creating the new age celebrities, whose fans follow them for their content, whether it be in comedy, entertainment, current affairs, finance or other fields. And along with their rise, a new kind of organizational structure has emerged- the influencer marketing agencies.
What was once solely the dominion of celebrity public relation companies which managed A-listers and other stars, has now seen the evolution of these agencies, some of whom manage an ever increasing number of influencers. Globally, major influencer marketing agencies include names such as NeoReach Agency, Moburst, Quotient Technology Inc., Launchmetrics, JuliusWorks, Trackr. Inc, Upfluence Inc. House of Marketers and inCast Inc., while back home our own giants are emerging with breakneck speed.
One of the most well-known names in this market is that of Monk Entertainment, which has the renowned influencer Ranveer Allahabadia as its co-founder. Along with Viraj Sheth, Founder and CEO at Monk Entertainment, they have an impressive roster that spreads across all the major sectors of fashion, beauty, infotainment, food, lifestyle, wellness, entertainment, automobile and tech with their clientele including BeerBiceps (Ranveer), Niharika NM, Yashraj Mukhate, Your Food Lab, Ruhee Dosani and Abhi and Niyu. The bootstrapped organization’s business model is split in two: a commission-based model and a retainer model.
Many of them have also launched projects with their own creators. When it comes to direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, take the example of IPLIX, co-founded by Jag Chima, who are working with India’s number one tech creator, Techburner, who boasts of a YouTube community of over 10 million subscribers. Together, they have ‘Layers’, a mobile phone skins brand, apart from working with other top individuals in India’s creator economy. IPLIX have received funding from various VC, institutional funds, and private equity sources.
Finnet Media, founded by Ayush Shukla deals in influencer marketing, content production, ad production, strategy for both influencers and brands and talent management. Their business model entails different streams including retainer with brands to run influencer marketing programmes, long term associations with creators to enhance their personal brand value while focussing on increasing credibility, ad production as well as content production based projects. Currently, they manage over 40 influencers across infotainment and finance including Anushka Rathod, Sharan Hegde, Shivanshu Agarwal, Nidhi Nagori, Unfinance, Ujjwal Gadhvi, Vijay Chandani amongst others. As the name Finnet suggests, Shukla started the company with an objective to create an ecosystem for creators who focussed on finance and infotainment, contributing to the now commonly used term- finfluencers.When the creator economy was just about booming, he identified a new niche – the one of finance creators, post which they have also diversified into other niches such as education and technology. Till now they have been bootstrapped and have been deploying their own profits to further grow teams and expand across geographies.
Another prominent name in the finance and tech sector is DigiWhistle, which works with pioneers in the finance influencer marketing sector, such as Neha Nagar, CA Rachana Ranade, Anant Ladha, Nitish Rajput, Think School and Prafull Billore. But what does their business model entail?
Founder Prashant Nagar explains that at the outset, they engage in a holistic exploration with the client, to gain a thorough and detailed understanding of their marketing objectives, target audience, and financial resources, thereby creating a customised strategy that aligns with the client’s specific needs and objectives. “With a deep dive and intensive search on a variety of factors such as audience demographics, engagement rates, and relevance to the client’s brand we pick the best influencers for the campaign. Once the campaign is launched, we closely monitor its performance, tracking key metrics such as engagement rates, reach, and conversion rates. This enables us to make real-time adjustments and optimizations to the campaign’s components, ensuring maximum impact and ROI,” says Prashant.
The sudden spurt of all these influencer marketing agencies owes itself to the explosive growth of social media and the rise of creator culture. “With millions of people now following and engaging with influencers and content creators online, brands have recognised the value of partnering with them to reach their target audience. Additionally, the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards e-commerce and digital channels, creating new opportunities for DTC brands and influencer marketing,” Chima explained.
PR firms like Avance PR, a boutique Agency in Gurugram headed by Ritika Garg, too have taken the hint and along with being a full-service PR firm they focus on business communications and influencer connections, specialising in startups with their forte being tech-based clients like Edtech, HRTech or SaaS based products.
With a gold mine of creators to choose from, venture capitalists are not one to lose out on such an opportunity to invest in disruptive startups. Sheetal Bahl, Partner at growX Ventures says that they are always on the lookout for companies that are poised to revolutionize their respective industries. “Cosmofeed is one such company that caught our attention due to its unique approach to addressing the challenges faced by creators in managing and monetizing their content. With its innovative platform, Cosmofeed is well-positioned to become a leading player in the creator economy, which is a rapidly growing industry with enormous potential. When evaluating potential investments, we look for rockstar founders with a grand vision, and Cosmofeed checks those boxes, which is why we were eager to invest in their growth. Looking ahead, we plan to work closely with the Cosmofeed team to help them achieve their goals and continue to build upon their early successes,” Bahl told us.
No. of employees: 9
Year of starting: 2021
Average employee age : 24
Revenue in past year (FY21-22) : 2 Cr
Revenue in past year (FY22-23) : 10 Cr
Approx earnings for influencer per Instagram post : 3-5 Lacs (Depending on the following and the brand image of the influencer)
No. of employees – 20
Year of starting – 2021
Average employee age – 23
Approx earnings for influencer per Instagram post -1 – 2.5 L
No. of employees – 108
Year of starting – 2017
Average employee age – 21-25 year
No. of employees: 65
Year of starting: 2019
Average employee age: 24
No. of employees – 7
Year of starting – 2022
Average employee age – 27
Revenue in past year – 2.4 lac
Approx earnings for influencer per Instagram post – 40000
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