More Than $1.5K for 52 Seconds: How Young Influencers Are Racking Up Deals and the Company Behind It

JP Mangalindan

JP Mangalindan is a senior contributing writer to dot.LA. His work has appeared in numerous publications over the last 18 years, including Bloomberg Businessweek, Fortune Magazine, GQ Magazine, Protocol, Entertainment Weekly, Mashable and Yahoo Finance. JP earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Fordham University.

More Than $1.5K for 52 Seconds: How Young Influencers Are Racking Up Deals and the Company Behind It

One afternoon in late January, New Jersey high school sophomore Alisa Kotlyarenko was wrapping up a dance team rehearsal when she received a phone call from someone at Promotely, a startup that matches influencers with brands and advertisers. Could she post a promotional video to her TikTok: a giveaway to her followers for an iPhone 11, a pair of Air Jordan 1 sneakers, and $100 in cash?

"Sometimes, they [Promotely] will just jump in, call, and be like, 'Hey, you need to do this and post this,'" explains Kotlyarekno. "That time, they said, 'You need to post that giveaway.' I was like, 'I've got this, guys. Don't you worry.'"


Kotlyarenko, who had already written out a draft of what she would say in the TikTok post two days before, shot and uploaded the post in five minutes, the end result being a snappy 52-second clip in which she hit all the major talking points.

For that one brief clip, Kotylarenko earned well over $1,500. It's par for the course for the 16-year-old social media influencer with 1.5 million TikTok followers, who, some weeks, juggles at least six influencer deals across her social media channels. She typically earns between $1,000 and $3,000 per post — an arrangement that has generated enough income for her to purchase a new car and a trip to Florida to visit a friend.

Kotylarenko is one of more than 10,000 influencers now using Promotely, a Santa Monica-based online marketplace for influencers operated by Mammoth Media that officially launched in January. Using a mix of website automation and work by bonafide humans, Promotely acts as a talent agency, of sorts, matching influencers with brands and advertisers looking to employ those influencers' significant follower bases to promote their apps and products.

The Promotely allows influencers to search for marketing promotions on their own or work directly with the app's staff.

The company is one of dozens of competitors trying to cash in on the influencer market. It has exploded, particularly during the pandemic, which spurred an ecommerce boom: the influencer market industry is now expected to grow to $15 billion by 2022 — up from $8 billion in 2019, according to Insider Intelligence using data from Mediakix.

As influencers developed huge followings on their social media channels, proving their content could persuade followers to purchase goods and download apps, brands and advertisers have increasingly sought to leverage influencers' clout to promote their wares. Firms and agencies like Creator IQ, Viral Nation and Branded Entertainment Network (BEN) have rushed to meet that demand, offering self-service and full-service solutions, with Promotely employing a hybrid model where influencers can search for marketing promotions on their own or avail of the team's more hands-on approach.

"I think ultimately the biggest challenge in the industry is finding the right influencer who just embodies the persona of a brand and reaches their customer, and it's also really thinking about who your client is hiring as the influencer," explains Lorianne Lacey, an influencer market expert with over a decade of experience and vice president of client strategy at InfluenceCentral, a firm that specializes in matching brands with influencers.

With Promotely, influencers can search and secure brand deals themselves through the platform's website and app, which will serve up brand offers, alongside the amount they'll earn per deal. They can also opt into a more full-service approach, frequently engaging with Promotely's team through phone calls, video chats and texts to facilitate deals and promotions. To track how their promotional posts are performing and whether they're hitting certain metrics, influencers have access to an analytics dashboard.

Promotely

As influencers' social media clout has grown, advertisers have increasingly sought them out.

Promotely doesn't charge influencers who are on the platform, however it does take a small cut of the cost per install, or CPI, of apps promoted by influencers. It also offers a feature called TikTok Organic Growth, which charges brands a flat monthly fee for Promotely to manage their brands' TikTok profile to increase engagement and build awareness. Clients include cereal maker OffLimits, personalized show and reading recommendations app Likewise, and beverage startup Liquid Death.

"My vision was to enable content creators to see monetization upside so they can be rewarded for high-level engagement rather than just be treated as actors-for-hire," explains Vatere. "It has to be a win-win — not one-sided."

Promotely's efforts so far are unequivocally paying off. According to Vatere, Promotely is on track to generate revenues in the low eight figures in 2021. More than 10,000 influencers have joined the Promotely platform, over 1,000 of them have one million-plus followers.

Much of the credit for Promotely's existence can also go to Ozzy Marriott, a senior at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, who helped start the platform and acts as a middle man helping broker deals between brands and influencers. For Marriott, navigating the relationship between brand and influencer around promotions is a give and take process. Advertisers may come to Promotely with expectations and requirements, and Marriott may approach several creators to test out a brand promotion on their behalf. If the promotions perform well, mission accomplished. If not, Marriott will rework the promotional strategy to achieve the advertisers' goals.

A significant portion of the job for Marriott also involves simply building and managing relationships with influencers so they use the Promotely platform regularly. With one influencer, Marriott spent more than six hours on FaceTime getting to know them, forming a rapport, and talking promotions and rates.

"I honestly don't remember what we were talking about exactly," recalls Marriott. "I just remember that we ended up talking for hours while I was in the hot tub about promos, rates and numbers. I really wanted to see how the influencer felt."

Ozzy Marriott, a senior at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, helped start Promotely.Photo courtesy of Promotely

In influencers' money-laden wake, firms and Hollywood talent agencies like CAA, WME and UTA have all raced to sign or work with influencers. That includes stars like Dunkin' ambassador Charli D'Amelio, an influencer with 100 million TikTok followers who earns roughly $5 million annually and poached Greg Goodfried, UTA's former co-head of digital talent, to lead the family's influencer marketing efforts. Earlier this month, SAG-AFTRA announced it would also extend union protections to influencers, further legitimizing the notion of influencers as bonafide creators in their own right.

All of this bodes well for other influencers like Jeff Skinner, a junior in college and influencer in Dallas, Texas, who, with the aid of Promotely's wheeling and dealing, now earns $3,000 a month to regularly dole out financial advice through the TikTok account of advertiser Acre Gold — one of at least 15 or so different partnerships Skinner currently works on across different media channels. The income from Skinner's work has become so lucrative, his father is actually pressuring him to take a year off from college or drop out entirely to focus full-time on his influencer marketing efforts.

"I've been thinking hard about it — I have mixed feelings," says Skinner. "I have three semesters left until I graduate, so it's really hard for me to decide right now."

Skinner certainly doesn't have to make a decision any time soon, but it's an enviable position to be in, nonetheless.

🏰 Disney's Epic Investment Stands Out Amidst Gaming Industry Layoffs

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

🔦 Spotlight

In the midst of widespread gaming industry layoffs, a glimmer of positive news emerges as Disney announces a significant move: a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. 🏰💰🐭

Image Source: Disney

Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, disclosed late Wednesday, signals a strategic alignment aimed at expanding the success of "Fortnite." The deal enhances Epic's growth prospects after financial setbacks, including layoffs, and strengthens the partnership between the two companies. With Disney gaining a larger equity stake in Epic, the collaboration will broaden the integration of beloved Disney franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Avatar into the game, potentially boosting its appeal and longevity. This significant investment underscores Disney's commitment to interactive entertainment and signifies a shift towards games as a primary revenue stream, aligning with the growing trend of digital engagement among younger demographics. Moreover, the potential for crossover sales of physical Disney products within "Fortnite" and the exploration of new content distribution channels are just some of the opportunities arising from this partnership.

For LA tech, the Disney-Epic Games partnership represents a validation of the region's burgeoning tech and gaming ecosystem. The substantial investment in Epic, who maintains a large Los Angeles office with 1,000+ employees (according to LinkedIn), reflects confidence in the LA’s talent pool and innovation potential. Additionally, this partnership between two industry giants fosters an environment for further collaboration, investment, and growth within LA's tech sector. As Disney and Epic Games deepen their ties and explore new avenues for content integration and distribution, it not only elevates the prominence of LA as a tech hub but also stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region. This partnership highlights LA's unique position as a hub where technology and entertainment converge. With its ability to integrate diverse industries, LA is driving innovation and expansion in digital entertainment. 🚀💸🎮

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • ProducePay, a financing and marketplace platform for the fresh produce market, raised a $38M Series D led by Syngenta Group Ventures joined by Commonfund, Highgate Private Equity, G2 Venture Partners, Anterra Capital, Astanor Ventures, Endeavor8, Avenue Venture Opportunities, Avenue Sustainable Solutions, and Red Bear Angels. - learn more
  • Blush, an invite-only dating app that drives users to local businesses on dates, raised a $7M Seed Round from individuals like Naval Ravikant. - learn more
  • Mogul, a startup founded last year that provides an overview of an artist's royalty earnings and identifies areas where money is owed but has not yet been collected, raised a $1.9 million seed round from Wonder Ventures, United Talent Agency, AmplifyLA, and Creator Partners. - learn more
  • Avnos, a hybrid direct air capture startup, raised a $36M Series A led by NextEra Energy and joined by Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. - learn more
  • AI.fashion, startup whose mission is to help retailers enhance the online shopping experience by providing consumers with virtual try-ons and personalized fashion recommendations, raised a $3.6M Seed Round led by Neo. - learn more
  • Suma Wealth, startup that aims to demystify financial topics and provide culturally relevant content, virtual experiences, and resources to help Latino users navigate financial challenges and opportunities, raised a $2.2M Seed Round . Radicle Impact led, and was joined by Vamos Ventures, OVO fund and the American Heart Association Impact Fund. - learn more
  • 222, a startup that helps users discover their city and meet new people through unique social experiences, raised a $2.5M Seed Round. Investors included 1517 Fund, General Catalyst, Best Nights VC, Scrum Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. - learn more
  • LimaCharlie, a security operations cloud platform, raised a $10.2M Series A led by Sands Capital. - learn more
  • Polycam, an app that uses a smartphone’s sensors to capture 3D scans of objects, raised an $18M Series A co-led by Left Lane Capital and Adjacent, and joined by Adobe Ventures and individuals like Chad Hurley and Shaun Maguire. -learn more.

LA Venture Funds

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $1.5M Pre Seed Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

Venture Waves, Climate Tech Wins, and Silicon Beach's Ongoing Evolution

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Image Source: Anduril

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.

🚀 SpaceX gears up for another stellar year, active raises, and more

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Happy Friday Los Angeles! You made it through the first week of 2024!

🔦 Spotlight

Elon Musk may be a divisive (albeit entertaining) figure, but the continued success of SpaceX is pivotal for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles and more broadly around the world.

Image Source: SpaceX webcast

What happened with SpaceX in 2023?

  • Elon Musk challenged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.
  • SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon series of rockets, a 57% increase over its previous annual record.
  • SpaceX conducted two test flights of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship.
  • Roughly two-thirds of SpaceX's launches in 2023 were devoted to building out Starlink, the company's satellite-internet megaconstellation.
  • Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography was published in September including everything from Musk’s tumultuous relationship with his father to his work ethic and “demon mode”.

Moving forward what can we expect from SpaceX and its controversial founder? Continued innovation pushing the aerospace industry to new limits? Yes. More drama? Without a doubt.

Here is some of what is to come in 2024:

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

Check back next week!

LA Exits

  • CG Oncology, an Irvine, CA-based developer of immunotherapies for bladder cancer, filed for a $100M IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (CGON) with Morgan Stanley as left lead underwriter, and has raised around $317m in VC funding. - learn more
  • McNally Capital agreed to sell Advanced Micro Instruments, a Costa Mesa, CA-based maker of gas analyzers and sensing technologies, to Enpro (NYSE: NPO). - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a hard-tech startup that is developing a technology for decarbonizing natural gas, is raising a $1.5M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 10th

  • Startup Cafe: Networking with a Kick - Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Tech Enthusiasts join together to meet and connect with like-minded people, industry professionals and investors, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in Venice at The KINN. This week’s interactive discussion about AI’s evolution in entertainment will feature Dr. Sam Khoze and Rachel Joy Victor.
  • Venice Tech Happy Hour- Join Startup Coil and FoundrHaus Wednesday evening and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop, grab a bite overlooking Abbot Kinney, and mingle with other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by the bar on the patio.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

📙 What We’re Reading

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