Recently, I had the chance to chat with Vivien Garnès, CEO and co-founder of Upfluence, to discuss how this serves as an “all-in-one” SaaS tool for influencer marketing.
Since influencer marketing still remains one of the top options for digital marketers, it’s no surprise that someone thought to fuse two of the most successful and popular tools available to companies today.
On the heels of Series A funding, Vivien Garnès sat down to talk to me about Upfluence.
Leveraging Data Science Started With Neckties
You might not think that neckties can lead to a $3.6-million funding round. But for Garnès, a failed idea paved the way for an immensely successful one.
VG: “My friend Kevin from college and I — straight out of college — were working full time. But on the side, we decided to launch a necktie e-commerce website which, in hindsight, was a god awful idea.”
JC: A solid investment.
VG: “Right the market is tiny; young men just don’t wear ties anymore, and the competition was very important and fragmented. There were loads of small websites just like us.”
From there, Garnès said that they tried cold-calling companies to drive sales. But what Garnès and his partner found that worked was influencer marketing.
VG: “We were spending our nights on Google manually searching for fashion bloggers to which we were shipping neckties individually, begging them for a review. Eventually, they would write an article, that article would generate traffic to the website, the traffic would turn into conversions, and conversions would become returning clients.”
That was the “epiphany” moment for Garnès, so he and his partner pivoted to focus on influencer marketing instead of a small e-commerce site selling neckties. But they noticed a few stumbling blocks in the process.
VG: “We realized it was extremely time-consuming to do manually. It was also quite prone to errors, as well. Sometimes we’d offer a necktie to a blogger and 100 euros to a blogger and it would generate zero conversions.”
This fact prompted the duo to explore the data science aspect associated with Upfluence.
VG: “Wouldn’t it be great to have a data-driven solution to influencer marketing that would make it scalable and reliable? That’s how the idea for Upfluence was born.”
Data-driven Dashboards to Maximize Value
Upfluence combines facets from many popular business models today. It leverages data science and AI-assistance, features a subscription service, and serves as an aggregator.
So not only is it SaaS, it employs modern business practices, as well.
Originally founded in 2013, they launched their SaaS in October of 2016. Today, they have more than 50 team members and worldwide clients such as Nestlé.
Upfluence works by aggregating influencer profiles from seven platforms. This provides access to around 1.2 million influencers in 150 countries for users — this makes it the most diverse and largest influencer database available.
It offers tons of features including the following:
- Fake follower analysis
- Quantitative/qualitative search criteria to account for micro-influencers
- AI-assisted influencer recommendations
- Agnostic language recognition to assist with global campaigns
It’s broken down into three core features known as Upfluence Search™, Upfluence Manager™, and Upfluence Analytics™. These tools individually help you identify influencers, manage campaigns, and measure influencer success.
You can see the campaign manager pictured above with a friendly, familiar UI.
The software also features a variety of features within including mailing, social listening, and a Google Chrome plugin.
Headquartered in NYC With Global Ties
You can see the North American team located in New York City above. But the company has satellite offices in Lyon, Paris, and Neuchatel. In fact, Garnès himself is French.
The Series A funding is led by ISAI with help from the French Partners investment group. ISAI venture partner Thierry Vandewalle joined Upfluence’s board of directors, as well, as part of the Series A funding round.
As for future plans, Garnès says that their agnostic approach will likely continue.
VG: “A lot of our competitors are specialists. They do one thing or a couple of things and they do it really well. Some only do English speaking countries, some only do Instagram, etc. We’ve always tried to have agnostic technology to function in as many social platforms and countries as possible.”
One of their top priorities moving forward is to attract new talent in order to maintain this vision as Upfluence grows and, no doubt prospers.