A platform to connect influencers with brands
By Chong Jinn Xiung November 21, 2016
- Aims to support the local influencer ecosystem and make it a lucrative business.
- Wants to expand its reach to Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore next year
AFTER a year in business Sushivid chief executive officer Yuhwen Foong says she has learnt and gained much in her journey as an entrepreneur.
Foong describes Sushivid as a brand influencer marketplace, a platform that connects brands with influencers, primarily catering to those on YouTube, Instagram and other popular social media platforms.
“We see ourselves as something akin to a Jobstreet portal for influencers. Companies post jobs on the platforms and influencers interested in it can accept them and propose their ideas,” she explained.
Currently, Sushivid has over 500 influencers that use their platform and a reach of 30 million across Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
In fact, 20% of their influencers reside outside of Malaysia. She said in markets like Thailand and Indonesia, influencers hold a lot of sway as many don’t consume content in English but rather in their local language be it Thai or Bahasa Indonesia.
Just to gauge the size of the audience in these markets, she said many of her Thai influencers command an audience of half a million. Even a 14-year-old Indonesian girl that is with the service, has 50,000 subscribers!
Foong learnt many lessons but one that sticks out the most is learning how to hire people.
Sushivid has grown from a small team of three and is slowly being expanded to 10 personnel by year end.
“I am trying to create a flat hierarchy model but it has been challenging in the Asian context because all of us have been so used to reporting. People are also not used to taking active leadership; often they force the decision on me as the CEO to make the call,” she added.
But apart from that, the biggest lesson she has learnt on her journey is when to say “No”.
Being a firm believer in using technology as an enabler to keep costs low, Foong often prefers to utilise online communication to conduct meetings as Malaysian traffic does allow for great productivity.
“A lot of clients expect face to face meetings to deliver proposals but having multiple meetings can be quite time-intensive. I believe in this day and age we can just Skype and it helps to keep costs lower,” she said.
Being part of the community
Over the course of the year, Sushivid has been accepted into two accelerator programmes: the MaGIC Accelerator Programme and DBS Hotspot Pre-Accelerator.
“As a business, I couldn't ask for more in the first year and I have all these reputable agencies helping us out,” said Foong.
She said MaGIC’s Accelerator Programme was very Asean-centric and helped them connect with startups from around the region.
Foong feels confident the connections she has made would enable Sushivid to expand to Indonesia as well as Singapore and Thailand next year.
DBS Hotspot also enabled them to access regional venture capital and opened the doors to customers in Singapore.
Recently, Sushivid was also a recipient under the Cradle Investment Programme CIP 500 that has given the company an additional RM500,000 in funding to help their growth.
Giving power back to the people
Foong is a strong believer in letting influencers have a greater degree of control over their creatives. She disagrees with the method of how agencies pass content to influencers with little to no choice on how it fits their audience.
“I dislike the multi-channel model. Often what is pushed is not what the influencer wants and it isn’t what their audience would like,” she said.
Indeed, her approach in business closely reflects her beliefs. Though initially Sushivid was founded with the idea of serving brands, as they were the ones who were paying, that vision changed to focus on influencers themselves.
“We want to change the mindset and support this ecosystem where it is a plausible career and you can make a living. It could be a lucrative business for everyone,” she added.