Zyper, the tech startup run by former “Made In Chelsea” star Amber Atherton, has raised a £750,000 seed round to help the company develop its app that it hopes will turn people into “an army of micro affiliates.”
Right now brands pay famous, influential social media users for promotion and exposure online. Influencers might get paid in free products or money. But sponsored content is still a relatively closed off network restricted to famous people like vloggers and Instagram stars.
Atherton, however, wants to make it easier for people to be paid to post online. Zyper said in its press release that it wants social media users to be able to earn “content creation air miles” for their posts that can be redeemed for rewards.
It sounds similar to Klout, the San-Francisco startup that measures influence and rewards the most influential people with perks. Atherton, however, doesn’t see the comparison. “Klout’s execution and timing was wrong,” she told Business Insider. “There is still a massive opportunity in understanding personal brand influence and peer-to-peer networks. Klout sort of of felt like Linkedin with an influence score.”
Zyper says it uses its algorithms to identify influence on a “granular” level, regardless of the number of followers someone has.
Could the growth of Zyper cause social media sites to become saturated with more and more sponsored posts? “There will definitely be a rise in spon [sponsored] posts as brands leverage peer-to-peer endorsements but ultimately people need their feeds to remain engaging, and just a tirade of spon posts will lose you engagement, followers and authenticity — it’s got to be balanced,” Atherton said.
“Zyper is about being an exclusive ambassador for the brands you love for a longer period of time which builds trust and a greater recommendation conversion.”
A video of Zyper’s prototype app shows that users progress though levels based on their “Zyper points.”
An example campaign shown in the prototype app involves users making 10 of their own posts per month for three months, as well as sharing three posts by the brand.
The prototype included example rewards such as free gifts, goodie bags, and a live makeup tutorial with supermodel Karlie Kloss.
The seed funding comes from private equity investor Samos Investments as well as angel investors including Moneysupermarket.com founder Simon Nixon, Propercorn founder Cassandra Stavrou, fashion entrepreneur Maxine Hargreaves-Adams, and Working Title CEO Eric Fellner.
Zyper’s website currently lists clients including Sony, Walgreens, Propercorn, Estée Lauder Companies, and film streaming service MUBI. Zyper said in its press release that it’s in talks with the government as well as the United Nations. The company also has a strategic partnership with WPP-owned ad agency MEC.
“I used to have a long note going on my iPhone that I’d update regularly with caption ideas and everyone asked me to caption their photo,” Atherton said in a press release at the time.
“People would text me photos all day asking for caption ideas and it just got to the point where I was like OK I’m gonna build a visual recognition system and embed machine learning to solve this problem in a more scalable way.”