By Jordan Beckoff
YouTube is the largest video platform online with 154 million monthly viewers in the United States. Advertising on the platform with commercials is not the only way to get a message delivered. Marketing companies are now starting to understand that power and influence that the video bloggers (or vloggers) have online and are trying to capitalize on it.
BeautyMotive is a new startup company based in Cambridge whose business model revolves around this so-called influencer marketing.
“We actually take a brand’s products and put them in the hands of video bloggers and they use the products in their videos as a form of advertisement,” said CEO and Founder, Brendan Lattrell.
Lattrell started BeautyMotive about two years ago knowing that he wanted to work in the online space after previously working as a television producer. He didn’t know that his business would end up being a beauty marketing company at first, but after doing some research, he realized that this was a market with some serious money-making potential.
“I didn’t know anything about the beauty industry myself, but it is actually a really interesting industry. As I got a chance to meet clients and walk through trade shows, there are a lot of intricacies to the business that I never knew existed,” he said.
He then hired some of the people who know it best, and unsurprisingly they happen to be women.
Ryin Bradley, BeautyMotive’s director of business development, loves being one of the only predominately female teams at the Cambridge Innovation Center building where the company has set up office.
“He realizes the power that women have in this industry,” Bradley said of Lattrell. “And it’s cool that he is able to leverage it and that we are all on the same wavelength and no one treats each other like the are smarter than the other person because it is a startup and we are bouncing ideas off each other all the time.”
BeautyMotive is in a rather rare situation. A survey conducted by the New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA) of 100 Boston area entrepreneurs last June showed that 70 percent of respondents thought that Boston’s startup community was “either sometimes or not at all inclusive to female entrepreneurs.”
The idea for the survey drew inspiration from the recent publication of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. Sandberg was quoted telling CNN’s, Soledad O’Brien that “With men at the helm of most large companies, engaging the other 50 percent of the population in the gender debate is the key to gender equality.”
Kitt George, the NEVCA executive director said getting men involved is essential for making women feel more included in the Boston startup community.
“It’s very easy to get women on board with supporting women; it’s more difficult and ultimately more crucial to get men involved in the conversation, too,” said George. “So I think one of our big goals is to make sure we are not pigeonholing too much, but we are getting men involved as well.”
Even though Lattrell is an example of men “leaning in” to help women be leaders in the workplace, he maintained that gender actually didn’t play much of a role in his hiring decision.
“I think that for any early-stage company it is important to hire people who are both smarter than yourself and also really passionate,“ he said. “In every case, the reason I chose to hire them wasn’t because they were female but rather because they were really passionate about the opportunity and their skill set was a perfect fit.”
One expert thinks that it just makes sense to hire women for a market that caters to women.
“BeautyMotive is targeting a mostly female consumer base, so hiring all women would seem to maximize the chances that the company creates products and markets them in a way that will appeal to this base,” said Helen Scharber, professor of economics at Hampshire College. “Businesses can better serve their customers and create better conditions for their employees when their leadership is representative of the populations they serve, in terms of gender, as well as race and class. No individual woman can represent the concerns of all women, but in general, women have different experiences and interests than men.”
Kimberly Bond is a YouTube beauty vlogger as well as the Community Manager for BeautyMotive. She thinks that the female expertise combined with having a male coworker can add a fresh perspective and new ideas.
“Because we are working with beauty products that feel like second nature to us sometimes, having a male in the picture makes me look at things differently, so sometimes I think it’s nice having a different perspective,” she said.
Bradley agrees with Bond, but loves that her expertise is appreciated and encouraged.
“Brendan tells us that we own this beauty and fashion thing, and what we are doing is working,” she said. “We have meetings all the time and we are just always trying to figure out how we can be better. And that’s good because he recognizes that in order to be better he needs smart women like us.”
BeautyMotive has been profitable for the last few quarters and the company now hopes to do well in a series seed round to move the company to the next stage of it’s business plan.