Former reality TV-star Amber Atherton’s AdTech start-up closed £750,000 in a seed round in September 2017. Looking at the young entrepreneur’s track record, it wouldn’t surprise many if Zyper turns out to be her biggest success to date, with the firm already receiving the backing of American seed accelerator, Y Combinator.
Atherton began modelling for various media outlets like Love Magazine, Tatler, and i-D before setting up her own business at the age of 17. My Flash Trash was an e-commerce jewellery company that originated from a blog that Atherton launched in 2008. The business sold playful and bold charm jewellery, and was worn by some of the world’s biggest stars, including Kate Middleton, Beyoncé, Rihanna and fashion mogul Suki Waterhouse.
What unites these individuals is their influence on social media. Rihanna boasts 61.7 million followers on Instagram and 87.4 million followers on Twitter. Beyoncé has 114 million followers on Instagram, while Waterhouse holds a more modest following of 1.3 million users on the photo and video sharing network.
That is a huge audience of people — so it is no wonder that advertisers are keen to get celebrities such as these to endorse their products across their personal social media channels. Look at Rihanna’s Instagram and you will regularly see her promoting cosmetic products. Head to her Twitter page and her banner image displays her own line of Fenty beauty products.
Atherton has set out to change the market that these social influencers have benefited from for so long, going so far as to label it as a “dying model.” Instead of using social media influencers, Zyper seeks to use a brand’s existing followers to generate content that is both “authentic and high quality.”
A potential obstacle to Zyper’s success is that social media networks are beginning to restrict how much data can be pulled from their APIs, largely due to growing public concern about privacy and the sharing of personal data. At the beginning of April, Instagram changed their API limit and broke a huge number of apps that were dependent on access to that data. More changes are planned for the end of July and mid-December of 2018.
It will be interesting to see how Atherton’s Zyper adapts to stay ahead of such developments, and if this marketing model could become even more effective for brands than the social media “influencers” we have become accustomed to in recent years.