Influencers turn entrepreneurs banking on digital fame | Mint
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Business News/ Industry / Media/  Influencers turn entrepreneurs banking on digital fame

Influencers turn entrepreneurs banking on digital fame

Supported by private equity and media knowledge, influencers are seeking ways to sustain their careers beyond social media

YouTuber Bhuvan Bam owns a production house.Premium
YouTuber Bhuvan Bam owns a production house.

New Delhi: A host of social media influencers, including Bhuvan Bam, Parul Gulati, and Prajakta Koli, are leveraging their fan following to launch their ventures, ranging from merchandise to hair care lines, with help from savvy talent management agencies.

While some are taking to joint ventures, others are seeking capital or licensing partnerships as brands have several options to choose from for online collaborations.

Industry experts said it is a natural step for individuals who already command an audience base and nurture dedicated communities online.

“These creators have already learnt to use social media to build a captive cohort of audiences and often, channel their own production and distribution set-up. It easily puts them in a position to upsell and monetize this loyal following," said Vijay Subramaniam, group CEO and co-founder of talent management agency Collective Artists Network, formerly known as KWAN. Most of these businesses are organic extensions to the influencer’s core interest network and existing community, Subramaniam said.

Ranveer Allahbadia, known for his YouTube channel BeerBiceps, has launched Monk Entertainment, a backend service provider for influencers. Prajakta Koli started her merchandise site Garage selling hoodies, mobile covers and bottle covers, while Parul Gulati has launched her hair extensions brand Nish Hair. YouTuber Bhuvan Bam also owns a production house. 

The journey to these ventures often starts with personal resources for these influencers and may include bootstrapping, angel investors, or crowdfunding platforms, said Shrenik Gandhi, co-founder and chief executive officer at digital agency White Rivers Media.

“Influencers frequently partner for startups, and some even invest in them. Initial funding may come from influencers’ personal funds or partnerships with brands," Karan Pherwani, vice-president of influencer marketing agency Chtrbox said.

“Given their celebrity-like status, influencers often use their own wealth for such ventures, showcasing their evolving role in the startup ecosystem. There are also associations where established brands have collaborated with influencers for a special line of merchandise. For example, big brands like Smashbox collaborated with Malvika Sitlani and Mac Cosmetics collaborated with Shreya Jain," he added.

This trend is an extension of influencers' personal brands, helping them connect with their audience. “Coming out with merchandise also reflects one’s personality which only brings them closer to the audience leading to more visibility for brands," Payal Ghosh, business head at marketing agency NOFILTR. Group, said.

The creator economy stems from a certain degree of individuality and like movie actors venturing into production, businesses give influencers greater control over what they do, Devdatta Potnis, chief executive officer of tech creator company Animeta said. 

Supported by private equity and media knowledge, influencers also seek ways to sustain their careers beyond social media. “Films are a start in some cases but that could translate into playing second fiddle to mainstream stars," Potnis explained.

Influencers try to create their own brand or invest in one to generate additional revenue streams. “While earning from brand deals and partnerships remains their primary source, these brands and partnerships help them create secondary sources of income. The money invested by brands in influencer marketing has seen a growth but so has the community… This has led to brand deals being distributed among many names," said Divyansh Gala, group head, of outreach at digital agency SoCheers. 



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Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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Published: 05 Dec 2023, 02:37 PM IST
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