FYXES Candid Interview with Reloquence CEO Megan Eskey
Reloquence is a new influencer marketing startup in its pre-launch phase that seeks to revolutionize how influencer marketing impacts tech, travel and transportation.
Interested by this concept, Fyxes reporter Michael McGrady sat down with CEO Megan Eskey to get the inside details surrounding San Diego's newest startup.
First, very simply, can you tell us more about Reloquence? Please be specific (what is the goal, what prompted this, etc.)?
Megan Eskey (ME): Reloquence is the product of my family roots to some degree. My grandfather retired as Chairman of the Board of Ketchum, a large advertising agency that does work for the Russian Federation, among others. My father was a talented writer who caught the attention of Joseph Heller, the author of Catch-22. He worked with a literary agency called Mavis McIntosh – Elizabeth McKee in the early 1950s.
Reloquence is not a literary or advertising agency exactly, but rather a marketplace for finding relevant influencers and bloggers to guide brands through the process of turning customers on social media into brand advocates. We highlight and promote influencers on our site, but they are sourced from many different platforms and agencies.
You said you worked at NASA in development. What experience from your multi-decade career with NASA gives you a unique understanding to sell your services and launch your company?
I designed an open source cloud architecture that was the basis for OpenStack, called OpenNASA v2.0. Our Cloud ROI and Curation platform leverages my enterprise architecture experience. I had an early career in AI, so the integration of multiple analytics tools and processes to maximize ROI for our customers is an easy transition for me.
We also emphasize compliance with FTC regulations for disclosure during paid sponsorship campaigns. Influencer marketing is still an unregulated space, with few standards. There is a great need for more rigor in many areas.
Influencer marketing is such a dynamic field. Specifically, you bill your service as a means to turn customers into “brand advocates." How do you believe influencer marketing, deployed through Reloquence, will improve conversion in the tech, travel, and transportation niches?
Tech is an underserved market for brand influencers, primarily because they are mostly B2B, while most influencer marketplaces target B2C brands. B2B influencers are generally industry insiders: CEOs, clients and employees, whereas most influencers on the current platforms are freelancers in the fashion, food and beauty niches.
Automotive and travel influencer marketing, also mostly B2C, are both much larger markets than tech, but also up-and-coming, and not as crowded as fashion, food and beauty. Most of the travel influencers have not yet monetized, and many of the automotive influencers are sourced from other niches, such as fashion or luxury consumer packaged goods.
Response rate is a problem for influencer marketing. Influence.co claims a 25 – 35% response rate for their influencers, while TapInfluence claims 85%. You get what you pay for: TapInfluence has a price point that is only accessible to Big Brands. Time is also a factor – it takes time to contact and negotiate rates with influencers.
We are targeting small to medium sized businesses, and our price points reflect that market. We will have some standard packages in addition to negotiated rates and packages for the micro-influencers.
In your own words, how do you describe Reloquence to potential customers? What about potential influencers?
Reloquence is an eCommerce site where micro-influencers with high engagement rates and reach between 500 – 100K can turn their influence into a business. Our secret sauce is our analytics to measure outcome across global campaigns. We are not building a database of hundreds of thousands of influencers, but rather aggregating search results across multiple platforms. We are not building another influencer marketing platform to search and contact influencers, but rather providing a cloud-based platform that maximizes campaign ROI for our clients.
We will focus on 5 basic services: Brand Mentions, Brand Ambassadors, Challenges, Branded Blog Posts, and Takeovers.
Can you go into more detail about the premium services you offer? What are the basics?
Our premium service is still under development, although we are currently accepting select clients using a concierge model to help us with our discovery process. There is a waitlist that potential clients can sign up for now if interested in becoming part of our beta test.
We are in discovery mode for the Trial and Small Business services with our current clients: Optincall, Silicon Beach Software, Frendli and FPComplete. We are actively seeking small businesses in travel and transportation to help us with discovery.
Also, what I find fascinating, is your "secret sauce." In other words, you're developing a cloud-based platform that tracks ROI and curation. Can you tell us more about this?
Every influencer marketing platform handles this a little bit differently. We work with a suite of analytics tools that allow our clients to measure, and therefore gradually improve, the effectiveness of their campaigns over time, by providing data across multiple campaigns.
Lastly, we would love to know more about Reloquence, your background, the ambition of the company, etc. Is there anything that our questions didn't cover that you believe should be discussed?
Reloquence is a Founder Institute San Diego startup. Graduating from the Founder Institute tech accelerator is hard - in fact, less than 30% of accepted founders are able to make it through the program. The admission rate is between 10 - 30%, so between 3 - 10% of all applicants graduate. This is by design, because one of their key values is that "The Founder Institute is hard, because building an enduring company is much, much harder."
Founder Institute wants to launch 500 new space startups by 2025. I encourage anyone who is launching a space startup to apply to the program. Mentors include Bob Richards, founder of Moon Express; Will Marshall, founder of Planet Labs; and Eric Anderson, founder of Space Adventures.
My startup isn't frontier tech, so wasn't part of Star Fellows, but it is still a space startup, when we include space travel micro-influencers.
We are planning to “drink our own champagne” and to use influencer marketing for our own launch, sometime in the fall of 2018. If you want to become part of our customer discovery and beta test, contact us.
We are ready to provide the Trial and Small Business services now.