We're not new to celebrity-driven brands — whether it's Rihanna or Dr. Dre, plunging into retail has been the norm for years now. But influencers launching brands? Well, that's new. Often touted as the folk replacing actors and celebrities, some influencers are at least rubbing shoulders with the big league.

According to Statista, the global influencer market size has doubled since 2019. Several studies even prove that millennials usually trust influencers over celebrities because of accessibility and relatability. While millions of brands (big and small) prefer working with influencers — influencers themselves are launching restaurants, beauty brands, and even media companies. Influencers start businesses by either partnering with existing corporations or seeking VC funding. Some influencers even fund their ventures — for instance, check out Negin Mirsalehi's Gisou — a beauty brand that uses honey in its products.

With a whopping 7M Instagram followers, Negin is a sixth-generation beekeeper who learned the benefits of honey from her family. Whatever she earned from digital partnerships and sponsorships went into building Gisou.

Earlier this year, MrBeast launched Feastables, luring chocolate lovers with great flavours, tickets to his chocolate factory, and other offers.

If you go through the website, you'll notice the quintessential MrBeast happenings — we’re talking about the Mystery Tickets section that offers users prizes that include Tesla Cars, lifetime chocolate supply, Beats by Dr. Dre. 🤯

Rolling Stone's latest cover story on MrBeast states that he makes about half a million dollars monthly in just merch. 😱

If we're talking about our neck of the woods, luxury fashion influencer Juhi Godambe launched her fashion label Arabella. She was all of 22 when she floated it! Let's look at Oh La La Goa, which was launched by an influencer and visual creator, Larissa D’Sa. She also conceptualised the restaurant and recreated it to resemble Bali.

What's the Catch?

Content creators and influencers connect with their community on a deeper level — in stark contrast to an average business or a celebrity endorsement. We rely on Marques Brownlee, Arun Maini, and the likes before purchasing a gadget, which is a testament to how creators — not celebrities who now influence our purchases.

So, that's the catch! But is that all or are there red flags?

The Caveat

Agreed that content creators enjoy the freedom and live the dream, but we often overlook the misfortunes that accompany this. Let's only stick to financial security — creators can't exercise similar banking advantages as full-timer job holders or traditional entrepreneurs. Banking laws are still somewhat archaic and prioritise consistent monthly earnings over a creator's worth IRL.

It's one of the reasons why creators don't relinquish their full-time jobs for full-time content creation. While a few do it out of choice, a few don't because they need a steady income to get by. Middle-class and small creators also lack opportunities (funding, mentorship, and exposure) — so can launching businesses solve this predicament?

Of course, many argue that a creator can dabble in both! But riding the wave of entrepreneurship will indeed secure a creator's finances while enabling a greater scope of growth.

How Influencers are Building Businesses

Honestly, this is our all-time favourite conversation, and we could talk about it for hours. Influencer and entrepreneur Pranav Panpalia founded OpraahFx — an influencer marketing firm that goes beyond traditional marketing. Apart from bagging Netflix, Hike, Call of Duty, and notable brands, it has also represented Bhuvan Bam and Ashish Chanchlani at the Cannes Film Festival. OpraahFx also launched OP Games which enables Indian gamers to collaborate with international gaming and sports businesses. In a conversation with Business Standard, Pranav said he aims at the target of 100Cr business by 2026.

Parul Gulati, an influencer with 1.2M Instagram followers was also seen in Voot and Sony Liv originals. Her brand Nish Hair Extensions is estimated to make annual revenue of $1M; Parul has self-invested in the brand and it's usually her acting remuneration that goes into solidifying the business.

A growth story that we can't ever get enough of is that of Amber Venz Box — an influencer turned entrepreneur with a net worth of about $315 million. Amber's journey began through blogging and later she floated fashion and e-retail startups that work with influencers and celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Meghan Markle. In no time, her venture LikeToKnowIt raised a $300M investment from Soft Bank with the brand alone generating a $3B annual revenue. That's no small feat!

Besides dropping merchandise isn't a fairly new forte for creators! Indian brands like HYPD, The MerchBay, and Louder offer influencer-driven merchandise.

In a recent turn of events, HYPD even raised funding from Bhuvan Bam and Tanmay Bhatt, proving we're not too far from the day where creators will own, invest, and evolve businesses. Does it sound too utopian? We'd like to hear your thoughts.

While we have your attention, check out our 2022's creator economy trends.

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