Back in 2011, while serving as the Fashion Director at Tumblr, I found that one of the most difficult problems I faced was surfacing the most creative individuals from a community that was growing millions of blogs every week. At the same time, the world's leading brands were increasingly reaching out to me, asking for suggestions of individuals from the community to work with. Seemingly, however, despite my best efforts and those of my team, we were recommending the same list of a hundred or so people over and over. There was a severe disconnect between brands and bloggers.
Later that year, I met my cofounder, James Nord, who at the time was daylighting as an ad exec. James had a blog on Tumblr with a solid following of some 50k followers, and was moonlighting as an amateur fashion photographer. The problem for him was that he had no way of leveraging his following to start shooting for fashion brands who were interested. There was no way for him to find the right people to reach out to, and there was no way to prove the value of his Tumblr following.
After chatting, I introduced James to the team at Oscar de la Renta, knowing that OdlR needed a photographer for a fashion week event and that James wanted an opportunity.
That email introduction - which took all of 30 seconds - turned out to be transformative in opening up James' career as a photographer, leading him to become the house photographer for Oscar de la Renta, and eventually shooting for Thom Browne, PUMA, Rag & Bone and Stella Artois, amongst others.
A little while later, we met back up to catch up and realized there really truly was no great way online for brands to discover influencers like himself, and vice versa. Somehow, in spite of the tremendous growth of Tumblr or any other online communities, there was a severe discovery problem that wasn’t being solved.
And with that very first problem, we created Fohr Card as a means to solve it.
Since launching in January 2013, we've focused on building tools to help brands work with influencers, and monetizing those tools as a B2B SAAS platform. The first product is a directory of over 8,000 fashion, beauty and lifestyle influencers, that addresses the problem of discovery.
As the directory got off the ground and acquired a customer base of 100+ of the world's best brands, including Vogue, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Tom Ford, Hermes, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Coach, Estee Lauder, Maybelline, J.Crew, Madewell, and Abercrombie & Fitch amongst others - we realized that we were gradually uncovering a second problem. Once a brand discovers an influencer, what do they do with them? What kinds of opportunities do they work on together? What's the most common way for them to work together?
This has led us to creating our second product - our campaign management tool that helps brands more effectively manage the step-by-step execution of influencer campaigns. In 11 months of 2015, our 2-person campaigns team turned this into a $1mm revenue product, on track to do $3mm in 2016.
In 2015, influencer advertising transformed from being just a niche chunk of the market, into a full-blown category of advertising. Why? Because as every single social media platform has grown, so have the number of individuals with millions and millions of followers.
It used to be that advertisers had to spend money directly on the platforms themselves, in order to reach millions of individuals. Now, they can spend money directly on a single influencer, and even more effectively reach millions of individuals. The revenue from our campaigns product is proof of this.
So what's the big picture? We're building the first influencer demand-side platform, to enable advertisers to buy influencer ads in one place.
We are a team of 8 people, based in Soho in New York City, who believe in taking care of our people, our products, and our profits - very specifically in that order.
We constantly seek progress over perfection. We see failure as opportunity to learn. We tell each other if one of us is fucking up.
We curse in the office, we play the music loud, and sometimes we drink whiskey before 5pm. We don't expect everyone to do this, but it is something that will not change.
We are 37.5% Australian, 12.5% German, and 50/50 male/female.
Our process is a very straightforward 3-step interview.
(1) Rich Tong, our cofounder, will meet with you to get a feel for who you are, the work you've done in the past, and the work you're interested in pursuing.
(2) Next, we'll bring you in for a 60-minute technical portion of the interview with our lead developer. Rather than berate you with odd technical questions, or pointless recreation exercises, we'll give you a sandboxed feature and ask that you make 1 improvement to it within a 60-minute timeframe.
(3) Finally, if we think you'll be a great fit, we'll setup a dinner with both founders, Rich and James, and a few other individuals on the team, to give you a chance to meet the team and ask us any questions you'd like to know.
From there, we'll make a decision with 5 days.