Those old days are gone when people used to gather at a market place to buy everything what they wanted. Advent of internet has turned the entire world into a big market place, which, however, is a boon to consumers but at the same time created a new problem for the brands to advertise.
The more number of options, the more indecisive be the consumer, and the harder to market a brand. Moreover, advertisment is not limited to mere television commercials anymore. This brought business people a big dilemma on how to make their product populer, specially small business and start ups.
The same problem was realized by Steven Lammertink and Daan Nederlof in 2014, when they looked at the available technology and observed that there are products that were too rigid to handle marketing problems, and other solutions that took too long to deploy and required too many services to maintain and improve for achieving simple marketing results and of course, not at all cost effective.
Also, automated approaches seem to fail against adaptive adversaries, and all-ornothing solutions that forced brands to make unacceptable trade-offs between giving away brand equity and driving short-term sales.
They thought business can and must be a force for good. In a world of radical transparency, where people are empowered by social media to build you up or take you down, the most socially responsible organisations will be the most successful.
There was indeed a need for a different kind of technology capable of solving complex marketing challenges with efficient and easy-to-use products.That is when they thought to establish the Cirqle, a comapny which will empower leading brands to connect, collaborate and engage with publishers across different geographical markets to help and drive sales.
The Cirqle is the world’s first verified OAuth platform connecting fashion, beauty and lifestyle influencers with global brands which includes over 9,000+ influencers, reaching over 400 million people each month, delivering trillions of impressions across Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Google Analytics.
It uses proprietary technology, millions of data points and immensely passionate people to make a brand’s next campaign their best campaign. Due to which, the Cirqle is able to give near real time deliverables updates so brands and influencers always know how far along the campaign is.
Each influencer creates their own profile which we update daily. Including stats across platform reach, growth and engagement, as well as contact information, recent posts, collaborations and press coverage. However, it was not all new for the co-founder of the Cirqle,Steven Lammertink.
He has been an entrepreneur since he was a young boy. He started his first company ‘Republish’ that digitizes books to e-books, at the age of 20 during his bachelor studies in economics and business at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. With his startup he immediately won a prize as promising young entrepreneur.
Shortly thereafter, he was selected from hundreds of candidates by the Dutch government for the prestigious Kauffman Scholarship. A scholarship that brought him to Harvard, MIT and Stanford after having followed extensive entrepreneurial training at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri.
An internship at the Advanced Technology Lab at the headquarters of Adobe in California encouraged Steven to start his second company: Fray. An online marketplace where people can easily request help with running tasks and errands.
His work did not go unnoticed and seduced companies and prominent Dutch celebrities to contract Steven for web design and web building, including Yolanthe Sneijder Cabau.
In 2014, he founded his third startup, The Cirqle with his friend Daan Nederlof; who after finishing his masters in Corporate Law at Leiden University, started working as managing director at Argis Financieel Welzijn and as senior associate at DLA Piper. In 2012, Daan founded Brevoli Investments, a consultancy and venture capital firm that provided both financial and hands-on management support for numerous startups in the Netherlands.
After many years of successfully advising and guiding startups into scale ups, Daan met Steven and decided to practice what he was preaching. Daan and Steve together founded the Cirqle in March 2015 and managed to raise €1.1mln in seed funding and secured clients such as KLM, Wolford, Scotch & Soda, Onepiece and Huawei, Samsung, ING Bank and other prominent Fortune-500 companies.
Today the Cirqle is located in Amsterdam and New York. Amsterdam due to its vibrant city-life, strong focus on talent and tech and as a central hub to be able to travel the globe. New York for not only it’s deep connection to Amsterdam but also for it’s business-acumen and opportunities in the market, being at the forefront of all new innovations in the ad-tech space.
Media proliferation and its social technologies are impacting the communication landscape, resulting in marketers increasingly favouring new online advertising strategies. Specifically, native advertising is on a rise, of which influencer marketing is becoming the fastest growing channel.
Influencer marketing is found to be a highly effective strategy in terms of customer engagement, credibility, ROI, measurability and amplification of reach.The Cirqle helps influencers connect to brands and vice-versa by providing transparent processes that enable effective matchmaking in a marketplace environment.
As an influencer, you can see upfront what you are getting in return when you deliver specific tasks. Tasks can be sharing an Instagram post, producing a blog post, or taking your followers out on a Youtube video.
The openness of the platform cuts out the middlemen and doesn’t have agents taking strong fees from the collaborative work.Also, the mobile app allows influencer to track their growth,join campaigns and pitch to brands on a daily basis.
It provides a platform which allows us to easily segment the influencers and their followers in terms of demographics, geographic, and physiographics.
Furthermore, as influencer marketing is a new approach to WOM, They’re actively sourcing influencers to help them product content around their platform. Nevertheless, whereas in the past marketers faced challenges in terms of generating positive word of mouth on a large scale, influencer marketing has enabled firms to overcome these barriers.
We can easily track, measure and control the results of our campaigns, and thus truly harness the power of WOM.
In addition, alongside the above, the Cirqle also run Ad Words campaigns in order to attract the right brands/agencies in the key markets and actively use social media and blogs to introduce innovative influencer concepts to visitors.
By the end of the year, it is planned to introduce a Cirqle Training program which help both influencers and brands find common ground in the influencer marketing space.
Currently the Cirqle includes more than 9,000 influencers, reaching a relevant audience of 400 million+ consumers each month serving clients across 12 countries and its revenue is north of $1 million and projected to triple this year with the aim to double the curated influencer base to 20.000 influencers by the end of the year and to quadruple the number of brands it runs campaigns for by the end of the year.
Also, there are several key product launches lined up for 2017 that will make it even easier for brands to find their customers, both on- and offline. In addition, a number of partnerships will be announced along with the planning to quadruple the size of the team over 2017 to cover even more markets.
They are also planning to launch a suite of tools that will provide influencers with more insights into their growth across the different social platforms they’re active on. In addition, the brands and agencies will receive a more streamlined workflow and even better tech to help them execute on campaigns faster and more efficiently.
According to the founders “A lot of starting entrepreneurs lose sense of the business case or are not in touch with the market, something investors often describe as product/market fit. If you don’t have a minimum of 10K active(!) users of an app you’re launching or you’re not generating any revenue, chances are slim you’ll raise money for that big idea. Try to involve trial partners/clients involved in your product development process as soon as possible. You’ll be surprised by how much positive feedback you’ll receive and how big companies are actually interested in helping young startups flourish.”
The key is to stay focussed while keep tracking the pulse of market. The Cirqle has indeed provided a solution to a big problem. They are not only running a business, but they are making others business run!