Influencer Marketing: Today and Tomorrow : Gushcloud co-founder VINCENT HA,ALTHEA LIM
about the 'Today and Tomorrow of Influencer Marketing'
Vincent, co-founder of Gushcloud, the Singapore-born leading influencer marketing network, is currently the CEO of Go Digital Group (GDG). GDG is a digital marketing and media group that grooms young and promising digital companies in Southeast Asia, Gushcloud and few other companies are part of GDG. Vincent founded Gushcloud with his junior college friend, Althea Lim, in 2011, and served as the company CEO, until Vincent moved on to lead GDG as the group CEO in December 2015.
After graduating from Singapore Management University as the Valedictorian of the Class of 2009, with a double degree in Business Management and Accountancy, Vincent decided to pursue his entrepreneurial journey. During his university days, he ran a café for 2 years with partners, and also operated a freelance video production company on his own, with the skills he learned in a school club.
Althea Lim, the current Executive Director of Gushcloud, is also the co-founder of the company. She served Gushcloud as the Chief Marketing Officer for around 4 years, then now is setting directions and overlooking all its operations in 3 countries, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Despite pursuing a degree in Biomedical Sciences at the National University of Singapore, Althea decided not to go into medical research, but instead, started her own business called The Youth Empire, which was a youth community and party promotion company.
Althea and Vincent started working together as business partners in 2010, and founded a social media agency called The Barnett Group, which was an integrated marketing agency focusing on digital solutions, social media, and youth marketing. After founding Gushcloud in 2011 and handing over The Barnett Group to TheFARM Digital, a Sydney-based digital agency, Althea has fully focused on making Gushcloud the largest influencer marketing network in the region.
2. We’re curious about why and how you started Gushcloud. Please share on the early foundation days.
Prior to Gushcloud, Vincent was doing videos and creative media businesses, and Althea was involved in the events and youth marketing industry. We learned that a lot youth marketing success is driven by alpha males and females. Back then, we did not know what we had, but knew there was something there, as we were using them to get their friends as a way t o engage people to come down for parties and events. When we started the Barnett group, we crystallized the idea that influencers are core part of the digital marketing mix for brands. Barnett was a social media marketing agency. We help companies to grow their Facebook presence through influencers’ participation in their Facebook pages, getting them to blog on the brands, and before we knew it, we as young social media company are already winning big brands like Citibank, National Library Board and Nanyang Polytechnic.
3. What kind of company is Gushcloud?
Gushcloud is an influencer marketing network. We connect brands to social media influencers with a large following on various social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. We help the brands identify the right influencers and create effective content together.
4. We’re curious about your philosophy on running the company. What’s your vision and mission? Please explain this in line with your foundation stories.
Our vision is to be the largest influencing marketing network in Southeast Asia. Something is clear about wanting to be a very visible and significant leader. This significance has been there throughout as we want to be people who matter and people who impact the world. I believe that entrepreneurship is very important to Singapore, that where Singapore is today is because of the fruits of the entrepreneurs from the 1960s to 1980s, this is the first group of entrepreneurs who worked hand in hand with the government to build all the leading organizations such as Far East, Capitaland, banks and such. However, I see that there is a lack of that in the next generation. This is why I am working work with my fellow entrepreneurs in this cohort (1980-1990). We are the next batch to hold the baton to provide employment and significance to Singapore. The reason that for this is because I believe for a country to earn its rights to survive it must do two things. One is to export products and services that the world would use and cherish, and secondly it must be able to export culture. If not, when in times of need, no one would offer help as you were unable to be significant in their eyes.
Hence, I am exporting products and services making Gushcloud a regional and recognised Singapore top company. I am starting to see that I can actually impact the culture part as well, as we are starting to create a lot of content with these young influencers on various social media platforms, these are cultural exports in the forms of videos and entertainment that I hope will put Singapore and Southeast Asia on the map.
5. We note that ‘Influencer Marketing’ is your main business area. Is there a reason why you chose it as the main business? (Answered under #2)
6. Please share on your marketing execution process. (how your business works)
We build a large network of influencers. And we reach out to brands and agencies to use the influencers and their social media content to advertise goods and messages.
From there, we curate the right list of influencers, recommend the influencers to the brands and agencies, and set the KPIs and objectives of the campaign, execute the campaign, then prepare the report for the clients.
7. What are the (unique) characteristics of the advertisers/clients you deal with? Please share on your major client/s and any episodes you encountered working with them.
The advertisers and clients that use influencer marketing tend to be more adventurous and more digitally savvy. They tend to understand the advantages of influencer marketing.
8. We understand you run your business in Singapore. Please explain characteristics of the Singapore market. (Any unique characteristics of the marketing industry in Singapore, consumer characteristics and so on)
We actually do work outside Singapore, currently in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia and expanding into the Philippines as well. In Singapore, our clients are savvier, they understand what we are offering, they are recurring customers, it is easier for us to sell and make money. Same goes for Malaysia, the industry is developed, digital expenditure is relatively high in Singapore and Malaysia versus Indonesia and Philippines. Indonesia and Philippines is not as easy as we are battling both educating people the digital importance, and why they should spend on content creator influencers. It has been an uphill battle in terms of the two countries.
9. Do you have a competitor? If yes, what kind of competitors are there and when compared to them, what are the strong points/competitive advantage that’s unique to Gushcloud?
We do have competitors that offer similar services, and the way we solve the problem can be similar, but strategy wise there are slight differences. We try to build a very big network of agency partners and influencers even though they may not be exclusively signed to us, and that has helped us to build our business fast. Helped us grow from a ‘nobody’ to a leader in the industry, due to the willingness to work with as many people as possible even if they may be smaller businesses or competitors to us. This could be what differentiates us, I know that competitors tend to be more inclusive, they do not want to work with other competitors, whereas we look at competitors as working partners, because we cannot convert the whole world, but everyone has different niches they fill up. Another edge we have is our people. Since we are in services industry, a lot of it is about likability and clients’ relationships with you.
10. Aside from functioning as an influencer marketing agency, is there any other business model that you run? If so, please introduce what kind of model it is, mainly on its mission/purpose, current progress, how much manpower and budget have been invested into it and so on.
We are in the midst of building a tech platform that has 2 functions. The first function is to build and scale a large network of influencers and provide discovery for these influencers across Southeast Asia. The second function is to provide data and analytics of influencer marketing through past campaigns that we ran across the last 4 years, so that clients and brands can make better decisions.
We have invested a team in Indonesia to work on this platform. We believe that this will speed up this industry, and also to provide better solutions for the marketing industry.
Gushcloud is also a producer of an event called Influence Asia, which is an awards show that honors individual and group achievements in social media. We believe that this will help the industry to grow her legitimacy and sustainability.
11. Please share on any unique culture at Gushcloud.
We have 4 values of Gushcloud.
Growing People - we believe in the growth of people in Gushcloud. We invest deeply in our people and for every person that walks through our organization, we ensure that they walk out being better people.
Fostering A Better Work Place - at Gushcloud, we believe in investing a workplace that our colleagues will look forward to. It will also be a space for thinking and creating things.
Achieving Financial Success - at Gushcloud, we help all our colleagues understand the importance of revenue, and keeping relevant so we can continue to sustain jobs and build more in time to come.
Building Significance - at Gushcloud, building significance and impact for the next generation and future is important. We ask ourselves, for everything that we build, how will that impact the next generation.
Other interesting cultures of the company are that we encourage reading in the organization (we own a library in the company), we also love young people (our average age is 23 in the organization, we also believe in the inclusion of our families and that as an organization we must eat together often because “a family that eats together stays together”.
12. We understand that you’re currently part of Yello Digital Marketing (YDM) Group. We want to hear about how you were propelled to join YDM and also about any business/project you are working on together with YDM and the strategy.
What YDM wanted to achieve was what we wanted to as well. What YDM has built was a strong network and group of some of the top companies in the region, many of whom we deeply respect. We believed that with YDM, we would go further and achieve our dreams faster. And that has been the case so far.
We are currently working with YDM on building the influencer marketing and metrics platform.
13. We also want to know whether you’ve expanded into the Korean market. Do you have any plans or interests to expand here?
We do have plans and interests. Korea is a mature market but a market that is a leader in this part of the world. We are looking at expanding but perhaps with one of the Korean portfolio companies under the YDM network.
14. Please share on your ultimate goals or dreams.
Gushcloud aims to be the number 1, largest and leading influencer media and marketing company in Southeast Asia.
Personally, both Vincent and my dreams are to one day
1. Build a significant media and marketing group.
2. Own an education foundation to impact the next generation.
3. Own a museum that we can donate to an institution.
4. Build a hospice care.