Bebang is attempting to monetize the new world order of marketing and communications by providing a mechanism for brands to connect and work with influencers.
Founder and CEO Sebastian Felix is a born entrepreneur, launching his first business at the age of 22. His best known project to date is Snap Traveller, a platform designed to professionalise the relationship between hotels and bloggers.
Bebang builds on the principle of introducing influencers to brands by looking at how brands can create experiences specifically for that community.
The team is small, with Felix overseeing a design architect and a web site developer, with its marketing functions outsourced.
It is being funded through private seed capital.
Before the Q&A, here is its Vine submission:
How big do you think the market opportunities are?
Considering marketing and communication budgets are moving more and more to content and digital PR, the market size is very competitive overall, and immense. As an example, we think US hotels alone spent 7% to 8% of their room revenue on marketing last year.
Influence marketing and content distribution align Bebang perfectly to offer value for not only hotels and hospitality but also fashion, wellness, gastronomy, events, and technology.
It’s difficult to nail down the exact market size, but we can say we’ve already signed a good many world renowned brands to “create” experiences for influencers.
Who do you see as competition?
Our niche is highly developed across fashion, beauty, luxury and sports, but as these segments converge with travel, the demand for a “core” platform to engage influencers and evangelists is growing.
Even though big players like TapInFluence are entrenched in the arena, it is mostly concentrated on the US market.
Bloggers and journalists tend to represent themselves to the best brands rather than through a platform. Traditional PR agencies and agents take up a lot of the space as well, but these generally focus on one segment such as travel or fashion.
The reality is, we have no real direct competitor that offers a luxury experience for influencers as the core of its value proposition.
What's the revenue model and your strategy for profitability?
Brands pay a monthly subscription to get access to the platform and start an influence campaign. The platform provides them the identification of the influencer, the relationship management (ensured by the Bebang team) and monthly reports regarding their campaigns.
What problem does the business solve?
We simply identify the right influencers, then engage with them around authentic experiences which spawn stories and content that will promote the chosen brand. We provide a connection and a trust point in between businesses and the influencers who desire specific experiences.
How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?
We are in the pre-launch early stages of development. The initial platform should be launched this month. We are currently approaching many different types of brands to create a wide variety of showcase experiences.
Why should people or companies use the business?
To develop their brand awareness by using influence marketing tactics.
What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition (apart from PR)?
We will aim to propagate Bebang influencer experiences via their networks, our own, and those of the brands creating these experiences. We will do this through the aforementioned PR methods, but through advertising, social media, and via our own network of blogs, as well as those of our influencers and brands.
Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?
We see Bebang as a “go to” influence marketing tool for every luxury brand. Out goal is to create an enterprise solution that brand marketing professionals can deploy internally, accompanied by metrics and other helpful tools to power their campaigns.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that it requires a startup like yours to help it out?
Most travel companies (especially hotels) are still using classical marketing techniques, and don’t know how to reach customers through social media, or even via paid or earned media. Bebang directly connects brands and influential evangelists a bit like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) does, albeit more completely.
What other technology company (in or outside of travel) would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style... and why?
As arrogant as it may sound, we have a vision that is most like Sony. To quote from the company’s mission statement; “At Sony, our mission is to be a company that inspires and fulfills your curiosity. Everything we do, is to move you emotionally. BE MOVED
Which company would be the best fit to buy your startup?
TapInfluence or Publicis, perhaps?
Describe your startup in three words?
Experience – Share - Influence
The role of "influencers" across a number of verticals is very much in vogue at the moment, pun intended. Fashion and food bloggers, for want of a better word, are disrupting media in these sectors in a similar way to travel bloggers.
Bebang seems to think that there is a revenue stream available for a platform which connects brands with influencers. By working across verticals the model is to some extent shielded from any sector specific peaks and troughs.
The distinctions between communications, PR, marketing and media are blurring - but one constant is that brands still have a budget for these activities.
But one concern is just how much actual influence do influencers have? Influence in the brand-led blogosphere is one thing - whether or not this equates into new or incremental revenues for the brand paying for the introductions is another.