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Indi Bolsters Exec Team, Launches App

Indi Individuals Inc., flush with a recently raised $9 million, has a new app that opens its technology up to marketers—consumer and corporate alike—to streamline social media monetization.

Undisclosed investors pumped money into the Newport Beach-based company, whose software connects retailers to individuals, allowing those individuals to get paid for word-of-mouth recommendations for millions of products.

The Series A, which closed in June, is the first reported funding deal in two years for the firm; a 2018 round included backing from Newport Beach’s Cambridge Cos. SPG, among others.

The latest funding will help Indi promote an app that’s pitching new ways for freelancers and other workers to generate their own revenue.

Indi’s technology helps people and businesses leverage and monetize their social networks and digital content.

The new funds will also be used for hiring and product development, the company said.

Rakuten Ties

Indi was started in 2013 by Neel Grover, Greg Giraudi and John Jackson; the founders count ties to Buy.com, Rakuten North America and Bluefly.

Early stage investors were reported to have included Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway, film score composer Hans Zimmer and actor Anil Kapoor.

Indi’s been bolstering its exec ranks of late; it brought in COO and CMO Trever Gregory, who previously served as vice president of brand marketing at Rakuten, a provider of e-commerce, digital content, communications and data analytics services.

Others on Indi’s exec team include former pro-tennis player and President Shikha Uberoi Bajpai; her personal experience as an athlete influencer and expertise in media production as the founder of Impact Media 360 Inc. will come in handy. She had already helped Grover start up a division of the business focused on companies’ brand ambassador programs and other efforts, which spun off into a separate entity now called Indi Engage.

The operational boost will help with the recent launch of a new app that aims to assist revenue generation through four buckets:

• Love It, where commission is earned when someone makes a purchase via a shared link to more than 80 million products currently in Indi’s catalog;

• Know It, for creating educational videos;

• Check It, for earning revenue on providing personalized feedback to an individual; and

• Shout It, aimed at influencers and celebrities selling personalized video content, such as Happy Birthday or other similar messages.

Innovator Honoree

It’s the first time Indi is offering a tool for the everyday consumer, but there’s plenty of potential there.

“Everyone can tag a product recommendation,” Executive Chairman Grover told the Business Journal. “It’s basically word-of-mouth recommendations and you can do that with content or without. You can do it with text. You can add it to Facebook or TikTok.”

Grover, who was honored last year with one of the Business Journal’s Innovator of the Year Awards, is the former CEO of Rakuten, Bluefly.com and Buy.com.

He is credited with helping reverse an over $100 million-a-year losing streak to 13 straight quarters of profitability at Buy.com, before Rakuten paid $250 million to buy it.

Gig Economy

The app’s launch date was moved up as the company saw good timing in offering people the ability to monetize their social network with many out of work or turning to freelancing as a result of COVID-19’s impact on business.

“We don’t know how long we’re going to be in the pandemic. I think people have realized they need to take a little bit more control of their future. If you’ve been a trainer at a gym and now those gyms are closed or you’re significantly limited on how many people you can see, you can now instead of just putting free content on social media, you can earn commissions for those. If you want to take it to the next level, you can charge for video on demand,” Grover said.

For Indi itself, the pandemic pushed the company to focus more on the consumer side as the executive team also noted a shift in how marketing dollars are being allocated—a trend that had already begun pre-COVID.

“It definitely had us accelerate the consumer side of things,” Grover said of the pandemic’s impact. “As brands are pulling back on spending dollars upfront, they’re much more willing to spend where they see performance and sales. And, again, that’s where our Love It feature is so great because brands will pay more dollars if you’re bringing them a sale.

“Everyone, every day, is making a recommendation of some sort. People just don’t realize they can get paid for those.”

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