A recent addition to Ryerson’s DMZ aims to broker deals between companies and the celebrities that might endorse their products on social media.
Its name hits the nail on the head: #Paid.
Co-founder Bryan Gold says #Paid allows the brand and celebrity to communicate in a chat room about product posts online through mediums such as Twitter, Instagram, Vine and YouTube — all with the celebrity earning 90 per cent of the overall profit from the deal and #Paid earning the other 10 per cent.
The startup first joined the DMZ five months ago after a recommendation from Adam Libfield, founder of startup Physicalytics.
Since joining, Gold says that the company has redesigned both its the way the app looks, and also the way it functions in the back-end.
He also says the DMZ has primarily helped them in two ways: acquiring talent and connections.
“Without an office at the DMZ it would be hard for us to get a developer…not to take us seriously, but to really think and see the vision and the big picture,” said Gold. “Because of [the DMZ’s] credibility with Ryerson it gave us a lot of leverage and we ended up getting multiple resumes submitted every week. That was a big difference, being able to hire talent.”
He added of the DMZ’s connective opportunities: “They threw their industry night we got the top advertising agencies in Canada emailing us after that, so it’s been great for connections too.”
Although #Paid is currently only in a beta format, Gold says 80 companies have signed up to use the platform.
Gold, alongside his #Paid co-founder Adam Rivietz, are choosing which companies to work with by testing how well #Paid marketing does with a variety of different products, from fashion companies to coffee companies, to see which niche will be most successful. As well, the duo are looking at how well the brands do themselves with marketing on social media.
On the other end, the duo say they have contracted hundreds of celebrities to work with. They’re in talks up to 300 more, but as yet about 100 celebs are testing with the beta version.
According to Gold, the celebrities they’re interested in working with are based on three things: the number of followers they have on social media, the type of engagement they have with their followers and the quality of followers themselves.
Currently the company doesn’t have any investors, although Gold says they’re currently in talks with Golden Venture Partners and have a meeting with Ryerson Futures, the accelerator program connected to the DMZ.
As they continue to figure things out, the startup — currently composed of two full-time employees and two part-time employees — plans to hire a few more staff members.
When The Ryersonian spoke to Gold, #Paid had just interviewed two designers and a junior back end developer.
Overall Gold says they’re still trying to figure out whom their product is for, but are firm believers that virtually anyone can use #Paid, from big brands to startups and fashion to fitness.
“We don’t really know exactly where we’ll have the most traction and right now we’re sort of just throwing everything out and seeing what sticks,” Gold said.