Straight out of college, this entrepreneur found his niche in connecting India’s top influencers and brands
Influencer marketing was a little-known concept until just a few years back. Cut to 2022, two years after a global pandemic forced a large part of the population indoors with increased dependence on digital and social media, companies are seen leaning heavily towards influencers to attract customers.
Evidently, brands have realised influencers have a sway over their target audience, and it is easier to reach out to customers through them.
This increasing popularity and demand for influencers has paved the way for influencer marketing and talent management agencies. One such agency isby Neel Gogia, named after his inspiration Iplex, a videoscope product by Japanese manufacturer of optics and reprography products, Olympus.
Started in 2019 by Neel, Delhi-based IPLIX Media is into influencer marketing and talent management. It has close to 25 exclusive talents under its portfolio, including Saloni Gaur, Tech Burner aka Shlok Srivastava, and Neha Doodles.
“We want to be in this niche because, as influencers or content creators, we are helping them build a brand for themselves,” says Neel in an interaction with YourStory.
Besides building a brand name, IPLIX helps influencers with revenue and content growth, and this 360-degree support system helps influencers find all their requirements catered to at one place. On the other hand, brands stand to benefit with the startup helping make the right influencer connect for endorsements and product placement.
“Gone are the days when someone just used to hold a product and put a selfie with it. Audiences are quite smart nowadays,” says Neel. He claims the company is planning to end FY22 with an estimated revenue of Rs 40 crores, a staggering 500 percent growth from last year where it closed at Rs 8 crores.
How it works
In just over two years of existence, the startup claims to have an impressive portfolio of customers - with the likes of Audi, Samsung, Mamaearth, Skillshare, and Cred on board. It started its pilot with OYO in 2019, where it worked to create various campaigns and jingles.
IPLIX begins its pre-work before any campaign by obtaining the brand’s mandate, based on which it strategises its future course of work.
“Strategy was never part of influencer marketing before. It was purely execution. We introduced strategy to the game,” remarks Neel.
Its first step is to talk to the management, and understand its business objectives. Based on which, the startup lays down the action plan for the target audience. “This ultimately helps us build impeccable stories that also fulfil the business goals at the same time.”
Citing an example, Neel explains that for Audi, a brand known for celebrity marketing, IPLIX tapped into influencer marketing for better reach to customers who could afford the brand.
Similarly, it helped Skillshare, a US-based tech company to successfully reach its expected target audience.
“We reached out and told them that it is not a problem with the audience. The problem is with the strategy adopted, and the kind of influencers used for the campaign. We redesigned their campaign, their strategy and since last year, they are working with us every month,” informs Neel.
He goes on to explain that in general, influencer marketing is used for awareness-building purposes. So, the biggest challenge in this form of marketing is, conversion does not take place immediately as it is not performance marketing.
IPLIX Media aims for successful conversion-driven campaigns for brands. This is the differentiation the startup promises its clients.
“In fact, we are the only agency that’s working with such a diverse set of brands to drive conversion-driven campaigns and is even refining it further on a monthly basis,” adds Neel.
Citing the example of Mamaearth, he says the problem statement was how to get sales via coupon code redemptions with the help of content. IPLIX had to also work on a strategy of working with beauty and lifestyle creators but also expand further.
The team worked on a plan of action to integrate Mamaearth promotions using entertainment channels which might not be relevant to the product category and still make it work because any audience could be a potential customer. For this, it adopted the strategy of integrating an infotainment video, which turned out successful.
Similarly, Myprotein, a UK-based sports nutrition brand, wanted to expand their influence beyond fitness. Neel says for this, the team put forth a game plan to use people in the lifestyle and category segment. A move that turned out to be successful for the brand as it continued to opt to sign more lifestyle ambassadors vis-a-vis fitness influencers. This not only helped them with brand recognition but also opened a new potentially untapped market.
Before he launched IPLIX Media, Neel started out as an independent talent manager, and was managing one influencer during his college days.
“I still have the first emails I had sent out in my not so good English to influencers asking to be their manager. In my first stint, I got a monthly salary of Rs 5,000,” quips Neel.
He set up IPLIX Media in the last year of his undergraduate years, when there was a mandate to do a compulsory internship in a company. He was convinced he could leverage his persuasion skills to build a market not just for influencers but for brands as well.
IPLIX is now a 50-member team , and completely bootstrapped. It recently expanded to the Middle East after signing on exclusive talent Mariam George from the region.
By the end of 2022, it plans to increase its influencer number to 100, with close to 25 from the Middle East. It also plans to venture into the South East Asian region to acquire talents.
Funding and more
When asked if the startup would be seeking funds in the future, Neel remarks, “We are in no need to raise capital right now, if in the future we need to then, we will enter the market to raise capital. We are happy where we are.”
In 2019, IPLIX was registered as a sole proprietor company. In 2020, it converted itself to a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) with the entry of its partner Jag Chima, who joined the startup in September 2020.
Jag is a UK-based entrepreneur, investor and health and fitness enthusiast. He created Physique Global and a gym chain called Kris Gethin Gyms. He joined IPLIX as an advisor to influencers, helping them with marketing decisions and setting up their own brands.
Jag and Neel also train their 50-member strong team members on how to communicate with the talents, influencers, and brands, which Neel adds is their biggest challenge.
IPLIX Media counts talent management firms such as Monk Entertainment, and influencer marketing agencies such as Confluencer, Lets Influence as competitors.
According to The India Influencer Marketing Report by INCA, GroupM’s brand-safe influencer and content marketing solution unit and Exchange4media Group, the top four categories that contribute to nearly 70 percent of influencer marketing are personal care (25 percent), food & beverages (20 percent), fashion and jewelry (15 percent) and mobile and electronics (10 percent).
The report also states that the Influencer Marketing industry is poised to grow at a CAGR of 25 percent for the next decade, reaching a size of Rs 2200 crores by 2025.