With Amazon and Flipkart as its clients, this startup is making social media influencers market-ready
Influencer marketing is no more a buzzword. It is a form of collaboration where a business collaborates with an influential person to promote a product, service, etc.
To up the game of influencer marketing and help young talents, Sumedh Chaphekar founded NOFILTR in 2017. The Mumbai-based startup is a social media label that incubates young talent by giving them creative and resourceful direction. It has collaborated with a plethora of influencers and brands, and intends to create a growing community network that facilitates personal expression and intriguing content.
The startup essentially connects the brand to the influencer, and the influencer to the world at large by offering a wide array of services, which includes personal branding, content creation and curation, influencer marketing and brand collaborations, campaign design along with campaign execution and analysis.
“We believe in quality and content, and nurture our talent accordingly. By collaborating with influencers and brands, we intend to create a growing community network that facilitates personal expression and intriguing content,” Sumedh tells YourStory.
The startup claims to have a pool of 40 influencers on board who are working exclusively with NOFILTR Group. It also claims to have associated with some prestigious brands such as Amazon, Flipkart, Bumble, Snickers, Colgate, Cadbury, OnePlus, Oppo, etc.
How did it start?
An engineering dropout, Sumedh moved to New York to do a course in Filmmaking from New York Film Academy. During this time, he realised there was an incredible shift that was happening in the US.
“Similar to how an actor plays a character on screen for 3-4 hours, these individuals were playing their true self on social media. Instead of doing it for a few hours, they were playing their character 24x7, 365 days. We realised these individuals will be bigger than media companies in the future. We wanted to be a part of this revolution rather than being bystanders,” says Sumedh.
Sumedh Chaphekar, Founder, NOFILTR (Image credit: NOFILTR)
He believes the advanced functionality and integration of social media with ecommerce and marketing in India has unlocked business models that are yet to be explored and adopted in the country widely.
To fillip the segment of influencer marketing, Sumedh established NOFILTR to nurture new influencers or key opinion leaders (KOLs) and develop an army of professional players who will propel the segment. Sumedh says his vision was to develop and diversify the untapped ‘influencer marketing’ space in India.
“In the terms of business, we didn’t face any challenge for the growth and expansion. We had plans noted down and we worked accordingly to walk step by step in the process. The only thing that we constantly look forward to is finding the perfect match for brands and influencers. We take it as our duty to ensure that the influencers and the brand fit each other’s narrative cohesively,” adds Sumedh.
Today NOFILTR is a team of 45 members. Some of the popular artists it has groomed include Mrunu, Ashi Khanna, Manav Chhabra, Awez Darbar, and Nagma Mirajkar. These influencers have a strong following on Instagram and TikTok, and their content varies from dance and make up to music videos, etc.
The incubation process
According to Sumedh, NOFILTR’s target audience is completely subjective in nature and depends on the brand it is collaborating with. However, most times, a campaign is directed towards engagement with the target audience in the age bracket of 21 to 35 years.
Elaborating on the same, Sumedh explains,
“Our acquisition journey started on the day we had relevant content creators with us on board. It was very much natural for brands that resonated with influencers. Plus, we strongly believe in helping both the influencers and brands work in a way where the product fits seamlessly into the journey of an influencer.”
NOFILTR’s incubation process starts from meeting with the content creator and understanding their character. After understanding their potential, the startup incubates them, identifies their unique characteristics, and assists them in every possible way to amplify it online.
After onboarding them, NOFILTR’s different departments start working with them closely on various fronts - from production to execution.
For example, if a content creator believes he has good skills in dancing and can start his YouTube channel, the startup’s production team helps the person for the shoot and execution as well.
NOFILTR works with ad agencies and understands what the brands are looking for. The whole process of building them into someone monetisable takes about six to eight months. Post that NOFILTR takes 30 percent of what the influencers make after the brand collaboration in the contract period.
“With the brand collaborations, we are also letting our content creators know about the importance of content diversification across different social media platforms to keep their followers engaged and entertained, and guiding them in the same way,” he adds.
According to a report by Statista, the global influencer marketing market was valued at $137 million in 2018. It is expected to further grow to $162 million in 2020 and surpass $370 million in 2027.
While there are many startups including Pulpkey, Winkl, and StarNgage that connect influencers with brands, Sumedh clarifies that NOFILTR is not just that.
“We not only bridge the gap between creators and brands, but also support content creators on various fronts such as branding, strategising, producing, etc. Our vision is to add value to influencers by creating the best possible influencer incubator.”
With an unavoidable situation like COVID-19 coming in, people have started to adapt to new changes. And this came as an advantage for the startup.
Sumedh says: “Earlier, influencer marketing didn’t exist, but now brands have re-strategised and turned to digital influencers. People trust people, and people don’t trust companies. During the pandemic, social media consumption has increased tremendously, and brands have also started investing more in digital marketing, including influencer marketing, than outdoor.”
He adds that initially things had slowed down as his team was trying to get in sync with the new normal of ‘work from home’ routines. Now it has bounced back.
“Every year, the number of brand collaborations that NOFILTR executes is steadily increasing. We had doubled the number of collaborations in the last quarter of 2019-2020 as compare to that of 2018-2019.”
In the years to come, NOFILTR aims to continue grooming creators in its truest sense. It wants to grow the NOFILTR group’s team and its influencer community.
“We are focussed on continuing to do our best in the influencer marketing industry as the influencer incubators. Our mission is to provide the best services to our content creators and clients. Our goal will be to engage more and more influencers and to be their best possible version online and offline.”