Announces $3 Million Seed Funding Round to Expand Professional Networking Platform for Influencers and Creators

Led by Bonfire, Funding Enables to Grow its Platform and Launch a Media Division

LOS ANGELES, March 12, 2020 — Today announced the closing of a $3 million seed funding round. is the definitive online professional network for influencers, creators and the businesses that work with them. The platform is used by everyone from Instagram travel influencers to mommy bloggers and YouTube beauty stars. Bonfire Ventures led the round with participation from ACT Capital Partners, Alumni Ventures Group, Next 10 Ventures and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) Ventures. will use this round of funding to scale its community and launch a media division focused on the influencer and creator lifestyle. 

Launched in 2016,’s three co-founders (Ryan Angilly, Niel Robertson and Jeff Smith) are serial entrepreneurs who have built and sold six companies between them. Their vision is to connect everyone in the influencer economy through inspiring content, supportive community and collaborative commerce enabling them to pursue their passion and grow their businesses. To date, over 175,000 members (of which 35,000 are businesses) have signed up to create their own professional profiles. Members use to share their work, learn from each other and find collaborations.

“When we met we were attracted to the fact that they have a different model than other companies in the space,” says Mark Mullen, managing director at Bonfire Ventures. “They have always focused on building a lasting relationship with the influencers and creators. We think that’s a valuable asset to have as the number of influencers is growing exponentially on a global basis.”

With many Gen Z’s exploring how being an influencer or creator can be a viable occupation, they need many traditional professional tools, but translated into this new domain. 

“The influencer economy is disrupting everything from how we make purchasing decisions as consumers to how and where we consume media,” says Niel Robertson, co-founder and CEO at “The problem is that no one is catering to this rapidly expanding generation of influencers who are driving this disruption. Like all professionals, they need resources, support and opportunities to help them learn and grow. That’s where comes in. We’re excited to put this capital to work by building out our team and investing in new ways to expand our platform.” is a free resource for everyone including influencers, creators and businesses. Individuals who want advanced features can upgrade to a subscription service. Businesses who need to hire and manage influencers at scale can upgrade to a complete software suite. Major brands who want to reach a large audience of influencers can do so through specialized content offerings to the community. has raised $1.4 million dollars from a number of angels including internet marketing expert Neil Patel and digital agency scion Alex Bogusky, bringing’s total funding raised to date to $4.4 million. is a remote company with staff in Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, New York, San Francisco and Austin.

About empowers the influencer generation. By providing a platform that enables influencers, creators and the businesses who work with them to have a professional presence online, we help everyone in the influencer economy pursue their passion and grow their business through inspiring content, supportive community, and collaborative commerce.  For more information, please visit  

Contact Information:
Krista Canfield McNish
[email protected]

How To Apply To Brands

There are so many great campaigns published everyday on, and we want all of the influencers in our community to get the most out of these opportunities with amazing brands. Brands are having to go through dozens of applications with most campaigns, so it’s up to influencers to do whatever they can to stand out among the rest.

Beyond that, brands report low quality applications to us, and an influencer’s ability to reply to brands will based on the ongoing quality of applications. With all that said, here’s a checklist you can use to make sure you’re always submitting a quality application that will not only get you noticed, but will ensure that you continue to have the ability to apply to all the campaigns you want.

  1. Read the campaign brief – This may seem obvious, but sometimes brands ask for specific things in your application, so reading the description and requirements of the campaign before you apply will ensure that you’re not skipped over.
  2. Submit a unique application – It may be tempting to copy and paste the same canned response to your applications over and over again, but this comes across as spammy and insincere. Talking about why you want to work with that particular brand, sharing insights about your previous work that may be relevant to that particular brand, and being thoughtful about your response will be better off for you as an applicant.
  3. Link to past work – While brands can easily click into your profile to see your past work, it’s always a good idea to include any links to photos, content you’ve created, press you’ve garnered, etc. when submitting your application. Showing off your work is essential in starting a working relationship with brands.

To help clarify, here is an example of a bad application:

Clearly, the application above lacks any substance. There’s nothing specific about why this person is applying to work with this brand, there are no links to past work or press clippings, and it comes across as insincere.

Now, here’s an example of a good application:

It only takes a little bit of time and effort to make sure you’re submitting a thoughtful and high quality campaign, and it’ll be well worth it in the end.

What are topics?

We’ve thought long and hard about how to create a valuable community at that’s focused on encouraging professional development and fostering more authentic relationships, and we felt that enabling members to choose topics to post to would help spark engaging discussions. Here are examples of what we see being posted in each topic.


This topic was created to provide a forum where influencers, businesses, and industry professionals of all sizes and experiences could give and seek advice from peers. Are you a newer influencer looking to authentically grow your audience from scratch? Posting in the “Advice” topic would be a great way to leverage the experience of more established influencers. Or maybe you’re a business owner and you don’t know how to reach out to influencers? Use the “Advice” topic to gain valuable experience from other businesses who have talked to dozens of influencers.

Best Practices

There are all sorts of collaborations that form on, and there are different methods to making them successful. “Best Practices” is a place to share those methods and discover what has worked best for others. One business may have found that having a weekly meeting with an influencer for an ongoing collaboration has been effective, and this topic would enable them to share that. Or, an influencer may have a way they organize their deliverables for a partner and feels that it would benefit others in the community. “Best Practices” should foster higher quality content and ultimately better collaborations.


This is exactly what it implies – a place to introduce yourself to the community! How long have you been on In what area do you have the most influence? What are you looking to gain by being a part of the community? Let others know who you are and make even more meaningful connections.

Meetups and Events

If you’re looking to network with other community members in person, choose the “Meetups and Events” topic to organize your offline meeting. If you’re in Atlanta and want to organize a meetup with other Atlanta influencers, here’s your space to do it. Or, maybe you’re a business with an event coming up and you want to recruit some community members to come? It’s so important in our online world to make in-person connections, and we want to give you the space to build those.


It may seem a little taboo to talk openly about money, but with it being an unavoidable part of our industry, we know our members need a place to discuss it. If you’re a business and don’t know what kind of budget to set for a campaign, choose the money topic to gain insight from others who have done it. If you’re an influencer and are trying to negotiate a rate with a business for a brand new collaboration, others influencers may be able to guide you in how to navigate that negotiation.


Want to share some exciting news from within the influencer industry? Choose this topic to share links to news sources and stay up to date with all the stories coming out in our industry everyday.


There are so many influencers and businesses doing great work everyday, and we know everyone wants to show that off! This is a chance to give props to someone in the community who’s created something great. Businesses specifically, this is a great way for you to show off the incredible content your influencers have created for you.


Mental health is extremely relevant in the influencer industry right now, and everyday, more and more people are starting to discuss their struggles openly online. We know how much pressure influencers are under, so we want to create an open and supportive community where everyone can share what’s on their minds, encourage each other to practice self-care, and work together towards building a healthier industry.

Tech & Tools

Have a software you love using to edit your images? Want to share the best tips and tricks you’ve learned using different technologies to create better content for brands? “Tech & Tools” is your way to share about what’s helped you do what you do best.

One last thing…

Please remember to thoroughly read our Posting Policy before making a post to the community. Community Posting Guidelines is a global community for influencers, businesses, and industry leaders to encourage professional development and connect and collaborate with like-minded people both online and offline. We encourage all types of people to use the power of this community to elevate their careers and become better at influencer marketing, and we believe an open forum will only embolden this.

That said, being a diverse community of people from all backgrounds, it’s important that we cultivate a respectful, encouraging environment. For that reason, the following behaviors will not be tolerated in the community:

  • Hate speech
  • Harassment
  • Racism and xenophobia
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia and transphobia
  • Inciting or encouraging violence
  • Promoting illegal activity

We are not interested in non-authentic methods of building an audience such as follow for follows, shout for shout, comment pods, etc. Any posts or comments that encourage this type of activity are strictly prohibited. Self-promotion is also not allowed. We want our members to create value in our community, and these kinds of posts take away from that mission. Spammy behavior such as promoting the sale and/or purchase of fake followers, sharing affiliate marketing links, buying, selling or trading items, and link dropping on posts are also not allowed.

The Community Team will delete any posts that do not adhere to these guidelines. Additionally, if a user repeatedly violates this policy, the Community Team reserves the right to remove their ability to post and, in extreme cases, remove them from the site altogether.

We value each and every one of our community members, and we encourage all questions, comments, and feedback to help us improve your experience. We hope that all of our members will engage in valuable and encouraging discussions with one another, and we just ask that you keep these positive values in mind when posting and commenting:

  • Remain polite
  • Respect other people’s opinions
  • Stay on topic
  • Treat each other with kindness
  • Be transparent and honest

Together, by adhering to these guidelines, all community members can help each other find their influence.

Ways The Government Has Quietly Become Interested In Social Media Usage

A few weeks ago, Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri introduced a new bill entirely devoted to curbing social media addiction. The bill, nicknamed the SMART Act, or the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology Act, aims to regulate and prohibit common practices that affect almost any and every mobile phone user who engages with social media apps.

Firstly, Hawley’s bill wants to eliminate the “infinite scroll” feature on apps, which would require users to manually refresh their feeds if they want to consume more content. Additionally, each app would include a pre-set 30-minute daily limit, popping up to remind users when they’ve reached said limit. Users can manually adjust the time themselves, but it will reset back to 30 minutes every month. 

These proposed changes primarily affect apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but rules aren’t restricted simply to them. For YouTube, once you’ve finished watching one video, another video will not automatically start. On Snapchat, so-called “Snapstreaks” will be eliminated as they encourage and promote users to come back to the app every day to keep their streak up.

A similar bill that was proposed in June of this year, dubbed the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, requires platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to “prove they are ‘politically neutral’ or face liability for their users’ content,” according to NBC News

In July, the FBI announced they’d be looking for a “Social Media Alerting Subscription,” or a type of A.I. tool that could comb through the posts and content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and others, to help determine if an individual could potentially be a threat to national security. Reason Magazine was quick to call the idea “like a meme-illiterate Facebook-stalking precog from Minority Report.”

Regardless of one’s politics, the growing involvement of the government’s interest in policing social media is noteworthy. It’s not uncommon for average people to remark that we all spend too much time looking at our phones, or think that people who only post selfies are narcissists despite the fact that one recent study found absolutely no link between a selfie-filled account and narcissism. CNN reports that a study that involved 10,000 UK-based children between the ages of 13 and 16 concluded that teen girls are the most negatively affected by social media consumption, so it’s not untrue to think that mental health is affected by online activity.

But should measures to curb online experiences become a government-related issue? Steve Krakauer at NBC News is quick to point out that the SMART Act makes no distinction between how adults and children engage with social media, and allowing the government such control could mean sacrificing free speech online. According to Axios, companies like Facebook are similarly attempting to regulate how their platform is being used – specifically targeting “manipulated media – everything from sophisticated AI-enabled video or audio deepfakes.”

So, what does it mean that both the government and big tech companies aim to control the average internet users’ online habits? Although many of us would agree that social media apps can greatly affect someone’s mental health, do we think these attempts at creating policy are the best bet we have? Should social media be regulated at all, even in the face of rampant bullying and even more serious hate groups spreading like wildfire? One thing is for certain: all the ways we experience social media are currently under a microscope and that can’t be ignored – and yes, they will impact influencers.

What Instagram Hiding Likes Actually Means For Influencer Social Currency

At the end of April of this year, Instagram dropped a bombshell on its hundreds of millions of followers. They announced that they’d be running a test in certain markets wherein posts would fail to show the number of likes it had received. Essentially, the one forward-facing metric of a “successful” post would be taken away from users – and people started freaking out.

Instagram was quick to claim that this test was for the benefit of all their users. In order to enable the new no-visible-likes feature, a pop-up assures the user that Instagram “want[s] your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get.” With a greater emphasis on the qualitative value of posts over the quantitative value of it, Instagram believes their app will benefit the mental health and well-being of its users. Science Alert speculates that while this feature might help certain people who struggle with social media-related anxiety and depression, it can negatively affect the creative currency likes provide to a photographer or artist unsure of their work. Additionally, what if the number of comments a post receives becomes the new marker of quantitative success in place of likes? Then it seems this fix is only temporary.

Other publications sense that Instagram is being much less benevolent than they want us to believe; the main motivator for devaluing likes on a post may be a new way to harm influencers who profit off the Instagram app. Kylie Jenner, for example, has over 144 million Instagram followers and reportedly earns up to $1 million per paid post from sponsors, brands, and advertisers – yet Instagram fails to receive even the slightest cut from each of those pay days. Now, the platform is encouraging more brands to work through them via their in-app advertising tools in order to reach their desired audience. 

Inc. speculates that this new feature constitutes a failure of re-design, and will encourage crucial key players to jump ship, much like how one negative tweet about Snapchat from Kylie Jenner back in early 2018 tanked the company’s stock by 6% overnight. Clearly, social media apps gain worth by the influencers and celebrities that use their platform. And perhaps Instagram understands this fact more than we think; Complex has been quick to point out that none other than Kanye West tweeted just last year that “we should be able to participate in social media without having to show how many followers or likes we have. […] This has a negative impact on our self worth.” Did Instagram actually take Kanye’s tweet in consideration? Do they believe that, unlike Snapchat, their worth doesn’t come from the high-profile influencers that use their platform?

While this new change might feel like an insurmountable roadblock for influencers, one thing is for certain. If users continue to create meaningful and quality content for their audience, then those people will stick around. Smart companies who understand true social media currency will recognize quality content when they see it. Content creators who prioritize making strong, valuable content first and foremost will continue to succeed regardless of the platform’s changes – and that’s the best type of social currency anyone should hope for.

Why Successful Influencer Marketing Means Focusing On Social Videos

We recently discussed in a previous blog post that influencers can make more money creating videos for brands as opposed to simple social posts. But now, studies show there’s a greater incentive for creators to stick to video – and it has everything to do with the changing social media audience. 

We all know about the latest algorithm change from Facebook, which was announced earlier this year. Essentially, Facebook aims to reward three-minute videos that can capture a viewer’s attention for at least one minute straight. If videos garner repeat viewings, that content creator will certainly reap even more rewards as the reach for that video becomes larger and larger.

GlobalWebIndex recently reported that 60% of all internet users watch videos on social media – including live streams or social videos that pop up in their feeds. This statistic seems par for the course – but it’s upon learning who exactly is watching said video content that things get interesting. In this report, the numbers reveal that 72% of the social media audience consists of people in the age group 16 to 24 years old. So, overwhelming, the vast majority of people consuming video content were born between 1995 and 2003. 

Digital Information World believes these numbers are slightly skewed because younger generations spend more time online and understand technology a bit more than those born before them. The “older” audience will eventually catch up and level out, but for now – these numbers are significant when considering how to create content. This young age group – along with those aged 25 to 34 – also have the highest number of social media accounts compared to any other demographic. With an average of just over nine accounts online, young people are most likely going to be watching videos across all of them. They are consuming the most content in more spaces online, so why not consider making content exclusively for them?

Influencers would be interested to know that, according to the GlobalWebIndex report, 40% of internet users follow brands they like and actually use, while 25% of users follow a brand because they intend to purchase from them in the future. Digital Information World remarks that these statistics prove that “influencing people via is easier if the target is more towards entertaining them rather than selling them with visible ideas.” The emphasis on entertainment feels so important knowing the social audience is young; instead of being inundated with information at every turn, young people value influencers telling them something through performance. And what better way to perform than through videos?

While it requires a bit more of an investment compared to writing social text posts, social video creation currently and will continue to hold so much value in the influencer marketing sphere. Remembering to focus on the audience first can shed light on not only what that audience would like to hear from an influencer, but how they’d like to hear it. Finding the sweet spot between successfully developing branded content for an employer and the audience meant to consume it should be the first priority of any influencer. After all, the numbers prove it.

What Influencer Marketing Studies Reveal About Creator Pay Gaps And Lack Of Diversity

Studies on influencer marketing have seem to hit an all-time high in 2019 as more and more brands and advertisers have begun to embrace the social trend. The Association of National Advertisers reported last year that 75% of ad companies employ influencers – but what exactly are the demographics of the most successful ones?

According to ZDNet, several studies were recently performed on influencer pricing according to platform, gender, and industry after surveying 2,500 social influencers – and the results are pretty illuminating. Namely, brands must be willing to pay top dollar for YouTube-based campaigns, or take the cheapest route with a Facebook post-based campaign. Instagram posts can range anywhere from $100 per post for nano-influencers (or those with less than 5,000 followers) up to just over $2,000 for celebrity influencers with over half a million followers. 

Most interestingly, regardless of platform, a significant pay gap exists between male and female influencers – particularly on YouTube. Despite the fact that women make up more than 75% of the industry, men reportedly make around $100 more a post in every industry category except for travel. In that industry, male influencers make up 39% of the demographic and earn $570 per post while females earn an average of $615 per post.

PhD candidate Sophie Bishop at Paper Magazine, meanwhile, has spent the last four years researching the demographics of UK-based beauty influencers, as well as the artificial intelligence that brands utilize in the industry. Her findings reveal something deeply problematic about not only A.I.’s role in influencer marketing, but the severe lack of diversity across the beauty industry. 

Prominent beauty brands like Sephora, Clairol, and CoverGirl implement an A.I. tool from influencer marketing network StyleHaul called The Eye. The Orwellian name refers to monitoring software that tracks “real-time, creator-fueled social conversation about products,” essentially measuring the success of social media campaigns with creator demographics like age, face shape, skin tone, and ethnicity. Simply put – the software scans faces to determine which “type” of influencer garners the most engagement socially.

Using the data gathered by The Eye, Paper Magazine created a composite of the “ideal” influencer – and it features a white woman with almond-shaped eyes, a button nose, and a heart-shaped face. Not only do these results suggest a sinister conclusion about the social audience, but pinpoints another result that Bishop addresses in her writing: some A.I. algorithms struggle to even recognize black faces, particularly the faces of black women.

These studies reveal that much work needs to be done when it comes to implementing influencer marketing across diverse creators. Whether discussing the pay gap between male and female creators, or advertisers prioritizing white creators over underrepresented minorities, there is much work to be done in the influencer marketing industry.

The Future of Influencer Marketing is Here

Today we are thrilled to release what we’ve been internally calling Montage. Montage has been over a year in the works and is the foundation of the vision that helped us recently raise an amazing venture capital round (more on that soon). With this release we’re ushering in the second act of our company and hopefully contributing to the second act of the influencer marketing industry in general.

The Problem

We’ve heard from both influencers and businesses that there is no easy way for everyone to keep in touch. Our users tell us they don’t fill their Instagram feeds with businesses they might want to work with. They also say it’s a crap shoot if they approach a brand with a collaboration proposal, as the business might not even be running a campaign at the time. At best, influencers hear about collaboration opportunities by having accounts on multiple influencer platforms and constantly checking the opportunities there. Conversely, companies put tons of work into outreach and discovery of great influencers when they are in campaign-mode, but don’t have anywhere to keep the conversation going between campaigns or with influencers who weren’t a fit at the time but might be later on. The whole process of building relationships between influencers and brands just doesn’t exist. The most advanced companies we talk to still use giant spread sheets of influencer names and data that they admit are out of date and cumbersome. 

But we all are very used to keeping track of companies we’re interested in online. We are all used to the idea of following a store we like on Facebook or Instagram in case they announce a sale or following companies we might want to work for on LinkedIn in case they announce the job opening of our dreams. Why doesn’t this format exist for the influencer-business relationship? With Montage, now it does.

The Solution

With the Montage release, we have completely redesigned our Business Pages. Every member who had a brand or agency page before has been upgraded to the new Business Page format. Business Pages have all the information that existed on brand and agency profiles before but now also include all the members of that businesses’ influencer community. With a familiar post and feed format, businesses can keep their influencers up to date in only a few minutes a week. We’ve already heard from our charter Business Page users that they can’t wait to use their pages to announce the steady stream of opportunities they have for influencers. These might be campaigns or even local events like pop ups or activations that influencers can get involved in. They also want to show off the amazing work their influencers and ambassadors are doing, and their pages are a great place to do this.

Keeping Up On The Industry

We also heard loud and clear from influencers that information about the industry is very fragmented. Some go to blogs for news, some get it from YouTube or newsletters, and few have any idea what their peers are really working on and thinking about.

Your home screen on is now a familiar feed-based format that is a collection of what’s happening on the platform, industry news, original content from our shiny new content team, and amazing work from our community. We hope that this feed becomes your influencer marketing homepage online – a place to start your day and keep tabs on the most important news from the industry and community. Best of all, it’ll give us all a place to start having discussions and dialog around issues that matter to the influencer industry and to our own community. 

Building Your Professional Presence

Lastly, the Montage release is taking the first step towards providing you a more complete toolset for you to build and manage your professional presence as a member of the influencer marketing industry online. Past our beautiful, dynamic profiles, we give you growth stats, access to shareable demographics, the ability to follow brands and your peers, and the ability for them to start following you. As you add more content to your profile, you can keep your peers up to date on who you’ve been working with, what tools and techniques you’re learning, and how you’re growing as a professional in the industry.

We’re Learning Too

We love feedback! The good, the bad, and even the cringe-worthy, and we’re going to need a lot of it with this release. There are many concepts we’re introducing that are new ground for everyone in the industry. What activities do you want to share? What could the value of building an audience of your peers be? How do you talk to influencers on an ongoing basis and keep them engaged in your brand? If you want to give it to us privately you can always DM @influenceco on the platform. If you want to give it to us in public forum, feel free to comment on the @influenceco posts we’re putting out. We can’t wait to see what you all think.

More than anything, we’re just over the moon at how quickly our community has grown and the acceleration we’re seeing right now with influencers and businesses. We hope to earn a tab in your browser every morning, and we’ll keep working hard to make that the case.

And from me, the CEO of, a hat tip to the incredible team we have working on this project. Everyone red lined it in July to get this done and I could not be more proud of how we all pulled together to make it happen. Ryan, Shane, Faith, Dom, Paul, Jeff, Brad, Lynn – awesome work all around. Here we go!!

-Niel and the Team

Why Instagram’s Like Count Ban Is Actually A Great Thing For Influencers

Recently, Instagram has started testing hiding “vanity metrics” on posts for users in a handful of countries. It’s being called the “Instagram like count ban” online. The platform argues that getting rid of publicly-visible like counts and video views on posts will help “reduce pressure” and encourage people to focus more on the quality of the photos and videos they share, rather than “how many likes they get.” Instagram also has a renewed focus on how the platform affects users’ mental health, and they believe this change will be a step toward positively improving users’ well-being online.

For those in the influencer marketing industry, the news headlines in the wake of this testing probably seem pretty scary. Many people are wondering what, if any, effect this will have on influencers, with some going so far as to speculate that this could be a devastating shift to the industry.

Don’t worry about the hype

Scare tactics and sensational headlines aside, there are some things to remember to help put this all into perspective. First, this is still being tested. Instagram hasn’t rolled this out completely, and for all anyone knows, they could decide not to move forward with the change after testing. Also, users can still see who liked and viewed their posts – they just can’t see likes and views on someone else’s. So while likes are important to show potential collaborators proof of audience engagement, there are still ways to prove that metric outside of public view 

Most importantly, however, influencers need to remember that so much of the work comes from building relationships that turn into quality content. While follower count and engagement are important metrics that brands look at when deciding whether or not to invest time and resources into an influencer, the rapport you develop will always lead to a more lucrative partnership in the long run.

Building relationships

What can you, an influencer, do to build stronger relationships with brands? For starters, you can go beyond just promoting a brand’s product and actually champion its mission. Is that sneaker brand you’re working with (or want to work with) putting out some cool content on their blog? Comment on it and let them know what you like about it. Share the content with your friends and family, and let them know the cool stuff that company is doing. Show the brand you care about their voice and the community they want to build, not just getting paid to promote their product.

Creating quality content is also an essential part of building lasting relationships. It’s not just about that taking that flawless shot or crafting a perfect caption. Let those you influence know why you care about the brand you’re working with. Make it personal; sharing more intimately with your audience about the partnership ultimately shows the brand you care. 

Take the lemons and make lemonade

Focusing on building lasting relationships with brands and creating genuine content are ways you can show brands that you’re worth the investment. Likes and video views will always be important, but there’s more to influencer marketing than “vanity metrics.” Show brands you care about the partnership on a deeper level, and the Instagram like count ban won’t matter.

Often times, great challenges bring about even greater opportunities. Scary headlines may tell you this change is a bad sign, but the truth is, it could actually be a great thing for influencers if we let it.

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