So, I was lucky to have been a part of a great exit in 2014/15 when Roseville based CustomerLink sold to Intuit. It was then that my favorite board member introduced me to a couple of young guns that were intimidatingly smart, but also humble, funny, excited and truly visionary. We sat down in a midtown apartment living room to discuss their fundraising plans, vision and general "how do we get this going" stuff.
This was the birth of Grin, Inc or Grinapps.com
Grin's first phase launch was successful from almost day one. Interesting for this article only because it lead to the next two expansion opportunities (NOT pivots - important distinction).
It is what happened next that I really hope to educate you about because these are brilliant business models that are now growing beyond anyone's imagining, and way off my personal MarCom radar at that time. (a little chagrined over that still...)
"Influencer Marketing" as the industry is now referred to, has a B2B and a B2C component and not in the way you may imagine. The B2B I am talking about in this tale is about smaller Influence Marketers (with "only" hundreds or thousands of followers - "micro-Influencers") wanting to get a "shout out" from larger, better established Influencers who cover their same or related category. Example: "Bob" has Instagram, Twitter and YouTube accounts that he regularly posts content to relating to say, Xbox games. He's been at it for a couple of years and has grown his followers to just over 100,000 for example. "Tim" is a gamer too, and is pretty amazing at a handful of games, but is just starting out - publishing his videos and commentary for his followers. Grin figured out that Tim will pay Bob just for a mention or the proverbial "shout out" to his followers to take a look at Tim's posts. A marketplace was born. This is what the "Full Stack Beast" coders at Grin built - a way for content creators to earn a little cash acting as a kind of content concierge. Cool. Great platform, but not the holy grail.
THEN - THIS happened...
So keep in mind, Grin set out to help new and/or smaller Influencers connect with more established content creators as a way to help them grow. To do that they had to build a very robust platform capable of searching by category, location, social media "channels" (Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Etc.) and follower counts. Worked great. Because they were pretty unique in their intent, they grew. Organically. And they kept on growing BECAUSE sourcing and contacting successful Influencers is tough. Even tougher is negotiating a deal with them, especially as a one-off, and processing the payment, etc. You can imagine how frustrating buying and selling a service would be without an established marketplace to turn to.
So, the REALLY cool part is THIS...
Because their INTENT was to help these content-entrepreneurs grow and (more likely) because it WORKED for them, they began to see new Influencers signing up everyday. First 10 or 20. Then more. NOW – Grin is adding HUNDREDS of Influencers DAILY.
So why is that so exciting? Because each Influencer carries with them thousands or tens-of-thousands of followers.
Which brings us to the BIG WOW… If someone wants to be a professional content creator or Influencer they need at least these 3-things:
1. Quality original content published to channels like Instagram, etc.
3. Revenue (The professional part ;-)
Grin is now in position to not only grow followers for the newer Influencers, but also to grow revenue for them.
Today, Grin passed 20,000 registered Influencers which means Grin is in position to help these Influencers secure real sponsorship dollars.
Grin’s Influencers now have over 60-million followers.
This means that Grin is in an amazing position to reinvent this space. Why does something so new need reinvention? Because those early platforms did it in a “good enough to launch” way. Their Influencer marketing "marketplaces" are really cool but they tend to focus on the largest of the Influencers AND still require one-off negotiations to get an Influencer to cover your campaign. Again, it's good but Grin see’s something better.
What we see is this:
1. We want to work with the Micro-Influencers because they tend to have 3x the engagement per share or post than the larger Influencers do. Think about that. What if you could spend the same Ad dollars and suddenly get three times the response?
2. Grin has developed data integrations that begin to give advertisers a peek into the demographics and location of an Influencer's followers or audience. Great for the Influencers and even better for potential sponsors and advertisers because now they don’t have to use this new medium for simply “branding”. Now they can TARGET their sponsorship spends more intelligently and begin to use Influencer Marketing to drive transactions within specific locations and with specific demographic groups.
3. Finally, the idea of negotiating one by one with hundreds of content creators to promote your company to their followers would make even the most seasoned media buyer wilt. With Grin, we take a full-campaign approach and build the Influencer Network relationships and commitments for the agency or advertiser, deploy the campaign, measure engagement, capture the newly generated promotional content, and generate deep reporting. Grin makes custom Influencer Networks possible and as easy to buy as any other media.
So, it appears that Grin is on track to gain access to close to 20 Million NEW followers MONTHLY at this point. We remain in Sacramento and although we are capable of developing these networks globally, we are still accessible here, to Sacramento and NorCal marketers. We haven’t needed a sales team yet, so if you’d like to learn more, please reach out.
PS: We are currently building what we believe to be the nation's largest Cannabis Influencer Network servicing medical dispensaries, growers and manufacturers. We have some early clients doing some amazing things. If this is your industry, we'd love to work and learn with you, it's going to be quite a ride. - Jim Bonfield
- LikeOne of the Fastest Growing Influencer Marketing Start-ups is in... Sacramento? Yup.
ShareShare One of the Fastest Growing Influencer Marketing Start-ups is in... Sacramento? Yup.