On the Rise is an interview series presented by Fresh Business Thinking to showcase exciting entrepreneurs whom we predict to be the next generation of ‘household names’. In this episode, we speak to Morteza Maleki Raee, founder of House of Influence (HOI), the first ever agency for influencers that’s backed by a dedicated digital magazine. 

Love ’em or hate ’em, more 19-year-olds are buying multimillion-pound houses and jetting off to sunny shores today than a decade ago. Every year we read how Instagram is saturated, or how YouTubers are losing margins while trying to keep up with shifting algorithmic changes. But these platforms are still a gold mine for the right niches. In an age where authenticity and individualism has more mass appeal than star power alone, it’s no surprise that kids today dream of being an influencer when they grow up. 

One in three kids between the ages of 8 and 12 aspire to be either a vlogger or a YouTuber, according to a 2019 survey conducted by Harris Polls and OG toy maker Lego. And it’s not even about the money or flash.

In the UK, a similar study revealed that the motivations behind this shiny new career path places money as the fourth reason, with creativity, fame and self-expression being a lot more important for over half of young Brits. 

The power of influencers hasn’t gone unnoticed by big brands, either. Most businesses of every size see the value in influencer marketing, but as a newer branch of digital marketing, isn’t it harder to measure and grow returns? This is a key concern for small business owners who are wary about funneling their marketing budged into an emerging channel that may or may not guarantee  results. However, according to a 2019 study from BigEcommerce, nearly 90% of all marketers find ROI from influencer marketing comparable to or better than other marketing channels. Yet influencers are largely left to market themselves and score brand deals on their own…or with the help of niche agencies. 

Morteza Maleki Raee, founder of House of Influence sets the record straight in an exclusive interview with Fresh Business Thinking’s Chardoné Mason-James. 

”Influencers are the new generation of celebrities. They have far more influence, power and recognition, yet why is it that,that they’re not getting the same media opportunities?”

According to Morteza, celebrities get thousands of dedicated media outlets yet influencers don’t have the same platform to learn more about trends on the scene, tricks of the trade, opportunities to boost their profiles and make a real impact on wider audiences.

”Why are influencers not getting articles? Why are they not on TV shows? So that was how HOI (House of influence magazine), was born,” he says. HOI is the world’s first social media and influencer magazine that operates just as Hello magazine has served celebrities over decades. ”We do exactly the same thing for influencers. We go out there and we find incredible stories in social media and uncover more about the people behind the Insta accounts, people who are working at Nandos by day and by night are the most incredible creative content developers supporting the biggest brands you’ve ever met, with little or no recognition.”

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For career content creators, their image and the impact they can make is their bread-and-butter. But it also depends on the platform on which they have the most clout. Those platforms aren’t always fit for purpose, Morteza explains, which can make it harder for influencers to earn what they truly deserve. 

”Currently what they do is they try to give a value to a post or to a story on a platform which was designed to put up pictures of whatever I’m interested in, not for commercial purposes. So it’s very difficult to differentiate between what is a real post and what is an ad,” which Morteza adds can cause confusion from a legal and ethical standpoint.

Morteza’s solution focuses on using technology to give influencers a platform where they can be as transparent as possible. ”(They)need a defined inventory of ad space, just like magazines have with double-page-spreads and classifieds. I know that this is the space that I can sell within my content. I don’t need to say this is an advert, because it is an advertising space. We decided to build a platform for influencers which provides them with that inventory in their profile.

”Career influencers who are genuinely doing an incredible job to make a living from what they’re doing are now able to have clarity on (the process and results).”

With the snarky world of Reddit churning out post after post on #entitledinfluencers, Morteza and HOI may be exactly what the venerated yet misunderstood community needs to build trust with their audiences and beyond. 

Watch the full interview to learn more about HOI, the technology and platform behind the brand, the agency side of the business and the growing power of the Good Influencer project in the video above. Check out our YouTube channel for more.