House Of Influence: Morteza Maleki Raee

House Of Influence is a social media magazine and online channel. Its unique business model works with social media influencers to promote influencing best-practice.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

Name of founder(s): Morteza Maleki Raee
Age(s) of the founder(s): 38
Location: London
Date launched: 13 September 2020
Number of employees: 16

Which university, if any, did you attend?

Kingston University

What does your business do?

We are a Media-Tech company, on a mission to find, create and share ‘Good Influence’. Our ambition is to positively transform the world of social media.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

There were two driving factors that triggered the idea:

1.) If Influencers are the new celebrities with fans and supporters, why are they not being provided with the same media opportunities?

2.) In the same way we have identified that we all have a carbon footprint that impacts our environment, why have we not yet acknowledged that we also have a ‘content footprint’ that has a direct impact on our (digital) environment?

In answer, we created the world’s first social media magazine and online channel, which highlights the growing number of digital leaders who are creating huge waves of positive impact and inspiring their audiences. The platform looks to not only find and share social media news, but to also provide new tools to facilitate ‘Good Influence’.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Experience, Instinct and Research.

  • Experience will highlight a market problem, a need, or an opportunity for change
  • Instinct allows you to innovate around the opportunity you identified.
  • Researching the market/users/competitors helps to identify market viability.

What were you doing before launching your business?

I worked in marketing and brand strategy for over 15 years, helping brands to create purpose, value, and growth.

Have you always dreamed of starting a business?

I’ve always wanted to create a solution that solves a growing consumer problem. I used to be frustrated with not being able to use an internet messaging service on all smartphones and created a small team of developers to built a solution to the problem. Two weeks later, WhatsApp launched and completely reshaped the market. But these things happen. You need to be on to these ‘twists’ in your journey as an entrepreneur.

How did you finance your business?

So far, I have been self-funding the business and pushing to develop the technology as much as possible, before looking for external investment.

Explain your business model and how you make money.

We have a combination of free and paid-for content. Our money comes from advertising; sponsorship; commercial editorial products; brand/influencer subscriptions; content and digital marketing.

What are the main challenges you have faced? And how did you overcome them?

  1. Working with limited budgets and resources. I started as small as possible and set out to create a very basic Minimal Viable Product to simply seed the idea and the potential. I looked for freelancers on platforms such as Fiverr and leveraged my network for resources. This created a small buzz, which began to attract the right partners.
  2. Creating awareness. We collaborated with a number of (relevant) influencers on video content; who we believed stood for the same values as House Of Influence. To promote our platform, we created pieces for their platforms and audiences, giving an insight into their lives and their ambitions, whilst also echoing our ‘Good Influence’ mission.
  3. Lockdown: The national lockdown placed unforeseeable pressures on our operation, in particular live production pieces. We began identifying, and looking to incorporate technologies that would facilitate remote working and remote production. We also began collaborating with Influencers on in-home collaborative content.

What has your experience been of starting a business during a pandemic?

It quickly became evident that staying ‘nimble’ as a business was no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, but a necessity. We made it a priority to build a business that could evolve and adapt quickly with flexible processes, people and products. Onboarding new team members in a lockdown, with no prior office relationship and no workplace social exchange, took a lot of trust and effort. Team dynamic is everything, so we set out to ensure we had regular (digital) company socials to maintain relationships and to help facilitate new ones.

Describe your first breakthrough.

The concept of House Of Influence and my ambition for the platform didn’t always make sense to others. I knew that meant I must not really fully understand the mission, the value, the process and just simply what House Of Influence would be. My first breakthrough was definitely when I successfully simplified the business idea and gave the brand its purpose.

How has Brexit impacted your business? Do you think it will in the future?

There was a point where it could have been an issue for us as we played with the idea of an e-commerce store, however we developed the idea to now focus our NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) offerings.

What advice would you give to other aspiring business owners?

I have a collection of guiding rules I’ve gathered along my journey. These have been helpful in optimising my approach, my mindset and in my perspectives.

  1. The best way to compete, is not to. Change the game.
  2. If it’s not simple, different and relevant, you need to re-think it.
  3. Work backwards. Understand your big ambition, and set out your roadmap back from there.
  4. People need to be inspired to listen. How are you inspiring your audience?
  5. Find and fill the skill-gaps. Bring on partners that do what you can’t.
  6. Fail fast. You’ll make mistakes, but don’t make them longwinded.
  7. Create for tomorrow, not today. Market, consumers, culture and tech are changing faster than ever.
  8. Stay fluid and flexible. Your idea will evolve and change multiple times even before launch.
  9. Curate your working environment.
  10. Consistency builds confidence, confidence is attractive. If what you do isn’t consistent, it isn’t attractive.

What is one resolution you have for your business this year?

We believe our ‘content footprint’ has just as much of an impact as our carbon footprint. This year, our aim is to create even more awareness around this movements by making ‘Good Influence’ as recognised as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibilities).

How do you see your business developing in the next three years?

Within the next three years, we plan for the platform to reshape the segment by introducing new variables. The platform will offer new technologies, content formats, and functionalities that will not only provide more commercial opportunities to social media leaders but will do so through Good Influence.

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Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.
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