Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

With traction stats that would make any starting CFO foam, TikTok influencer marketing platform Ubiquitous is making a big leap in the chaotic market of influencer marketing. It is one of the fastest growing segments of advertising and marketing, but one that presents some unique challenges; Working directly with influencers is labor intensive, but the results don’t lie, and many brands think it’s worth it.

We’ve seen a lot of activity in this space lately, including a $2 million ProductWind round, $1 million from Alfluence, Carro’s $20 million, and much more. The reason Ubiquitous’s platform caught my eye is that it has raised a $5 million round led by Uncork in its largest seed investment to date (with additional funding from 100 Thieves and Starting Line VC), and the company has experienced astonishing growth. Launched just six months ago, the company has already posted $6 million in revenue and claims amazing conversion rates across the board, with 250 brands already using the platform and amassing over 1,000 influencers on the platform.

“I was Head of Growth and then VP of Marketing for a company called Bellhop. In that role, I came across this opportunity because I was trying to put a test budget into TikTok influencers. We tried to find an agency or a platform or something that specializes in this. We looked at it for a week, but we came to the conclusion that there was none. Even when we talk to the Viral Nations of the world, and all of our traditional providers. They don’t take this seriously. They’re not really investing in the space to give us the data we need,” said Alex Elsea, co-founder of Ubiquitous, as he outlined the company’s history. “That was the last straw for me as a marketing leader. I’ve never had a good experience with an influencer marketing provider. So we started looking for the company that was missing in the market.”

Running influencer campaigns in-house is extremely labor intensive; if you want to put $100,000 into a test campaign, you’re looking at 20-40 creators across the different platforms. That means trying to find contact details of 100, negotiate with 50-60, make deals with 30 or so. Managing instructions, signing off on ads, handling negotiations and payments and contracts – it quickly becomes an administrative nightmare, and you often work with a number of creators who don’t have a slick process to handle this. In other words; you hire amateurs for contract work which is hard at the best of times.

“The moment we clicked was in a meeting with myself and my marketing team. I found myself wondering, ‘how does anyone do this? How is someone able to actually perform on this scale?’ At the same time, the quotes and rates we got back from the TikTok influencers were amazing. They were a quarter of what we paid on Instagram, and engagement rates were four to six times higher. It was the best data I’d ever seen, but it was so much work to get it done that it just didn’t scale,” explains Elsea. “And so there was this meeting, we looked at each other, we were like, are we missing something? Or is this the best opportunity we’ve ever seen?”

Long story short, Elsea and his founding team stumbled upon a huge opportunity in a brand new market – influencer marketing has been happening for a while, but rarely on a large scale, and TikTok had a different approach to Instagram, which meant that the dynamics of Running influencer campaigns suddenly started to make much more sense.

“And every brand is going through the same thing – so there’s a huge need, and you need some technology to automate it, because otherwise you need a huge team to deploy that budget on an influencer-by-influencer basis, using phone calls, text messages and emails, our platform helps with that,” explains Elsea.

The company is essentially a marketplace with an agency component: Ubiquitous helps marketing executives put together an influencer strategy, select the best influencers to partner with, and then execute the entire campaign end-to-end. The business model is also smart: getting two bites of the apple for every transaction. The company charges its advertisers a platform fee, but it also charges a percentage of the money it pays out to its influencers. The company’s founders declined to specify exactly what will be cut on either side of the transaction.

“We’ve been doing it for about a year now, with about a year and a half of testing. We officially launched on April 1, and we felt the product market was appropriate on the brand side and the maker side. Since our launch, we’ve gone from zero to $5 million in revenue and it just took off in less than five months,” explains Elsea. “Until now, the VCs have really misled this industry. It pushed it to a SaaS model where you take the human out of the equation.”

Ubiquitous decided that if campaigns were five, six, and seven digits, it wasn’t enough to sell the brands a SaaS package, give them a login and say “good luck, folks,” and get a fully functional one instead. platform to take care of all aspects of the influencer marketing campaigns.

The company has ambitious plans with the money raised. The company admits what it’s built so far is a bit basic, but claims it’s head and shoulders above the competition’s offerings. To move forward, the company is scaling out an engineering and product team and adding a number of tools that serve the makers.

“We have a deep passion for taking care of these creators. The entire industry is designed to take advantage of the influencers. We want to solve that. We’ve been able to build a maker network of this size so quickly by building a brand that really puts them first and cares for them,” explains Elsea. “Instead of just offering them deals, the creator app becomes the hub of their entire career. We’re talking creator insurance rollout, accounting services, and much more.”

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