Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Olivier Lasry, the Founder and CEO of Wingsplay, a new and innovative network for advertisers seeking to distribute their viral videos through influential social media users. These influencers are given the opportunity to earn money by leveraging the power of their networks on Facebook and Twitter and through their blogs.
The best part about the concept is that it builds upon the natural tendency of certain individuals to share quality content with their online friends. In fact, the idea came to Lasry after he noticed that he and many of his friends would often share their favorite videos with one another on Facebook and Twitter. By tracking and monetizing this spreading of content, he realized he could create a new kind of advertising network that would grow organically.
Olivier and his team carefully pre-screen all of their content to pass on only the funniest and most clever videos to their network of influencers. In this way, Wingsplay has developed a funnel for sharing only the highest quality work with one of the most powerful markets around. It’s a win-win situation for both advertisers and end users, who often get to discover great videos well before the general public.
Lasry spent 18 months in development, raising seed funding, building the platform and contacting advertisers relevant to their distribution model, before the company’s beta launch in February of this year. With clients like NBC, HTC, Major League Soccer and BF Goodrich, they have been able to build solid case studies in several different verticals – most helpful at this early stage of development.
As an auditor at the well known accounting firm of Ernst & Young in Paris, Lasry specialized in new media and new technology industries. Reviewing business plans and working on behalf of shareholders gave him a real sense of what is expected of an entrepreneur from a corporate perspective, setting the stage for the development of his own company.
One interesting piece of advice that he shared with me was, “You shouldn’t raise more capital than what you need.” This strategy enabled him to bootstrap key aspects of his business, forcing him to closely manage early sales and PR efforts and effectively control the shaping of fundamental messaging and development. This, he maintains, has allowed him to provide disruptive service while preparing him to identify and recruit the best people to help him bring things to the next level.
Creating an innovative startup always carries with it the challenge of managing the unexpected, and developing Wingsplay has been no exception. With a combination of preparation and good vision, the company has so far been able to successfully adapt to changing circumstances. At present, their focus is on the US market, and so far they are seeing a steady increase of interest by both advertisers and influencers.
What has been most exciting is seeing the first positive feedback from the market as well as their users. After such a long preparation for launch, Lasry says, “It’s very rewarding, because it shows your vision was relevant, and that the execution thus far has been successful, and it motivates a lot…”
His advice to would-be entrepreneurs? “Always stay positive, and always see the big picture and have a clear vision, because this is what will motivate your team the most.”
No matter what industry you are working in, I’d say this is a good thing to remember…