Young entrepreneurs: Ben Jeffries, Influencer
Founder of one of the first UK influencer marketing agencies, this 21 year-old has helped build a buzz around brands such as Uber and Primark
Name: Ben Jeffries
Ben Jeffries spotted a gap in the market for connecting brands with consumers on social media, aka influencer marketing, long before big companies caught on to the concept.
While marketing his part-time venture – Breeze, a clothing brand he launched at the age of 16 – Jeffries realised that, with more and more Brits using adblockers on their web browsing, he would have to come up with creative solutions to advertise his business online.
Without the budget to afford celebrity endorsements, Jeffries reached out to ‘micro-celebrities' – now known as ‘influencers – who were respected and trusted by a few but not known by the masses.
A successful partnership with Chelsea FC reserve football player Jamal Blackman, “who had a loyal following to those who knew him and cost a fraction of the price”, ensued and the power of social media influencers became clear.
Recognising that “the best advertisement isn't advertising”, Jeffries decided to quit Breeze and turned his attention to starting Influencer, one of the UK's first influencer marketing agencies, in May 2015.
Pursuing the business idea was a big risk as it meant Jeffries also had to terminate a contract he had secured with Royal Dutch Shell but, almost two years on from launch, it's clear the risk was worth taking.
Last year saw a number of achievements for the start-up: shortlisted for Sir Richard Branson's VOOM 2016 competition, winner of the £50,000 Young Start-up Talent competition, and backed by £150,000 following a successful crowdfunding round involving 139 investors.
Alongside these accolades, Jeffries' agency has been profitable from day one with six-figure revenues – “we keep overheads low and don't waste money” – and lays claim to an impressive roster of clients including Uber, Badoo and Primark.
So what does the 21-year-old think lies ahead for Influencer in 2017? Well, with plans to develop the platform in April, Jeffries is confident the business will soon “be recognised as a market leader” as people “move away from other traditional marketing strategies to us”.