An emerging trend over the past decade has been the celebritization of leaders and influencers across nearly every vertical, hobby, and interest group imaginable. No longer are athletes and actors the only celebrities in the public sphere. One easy example – Swedish gamer Felix Arvid Ulf Kjelberg aka “PewDiePie” has over 30 million subscribers to his Youtube channel – more followers than Ashton Kutcher, or even Ronaldo.
In my view this is attributable to two main factors: (a) the rise of reality TV which has created recognizable personalities in hundreds of interests, ranging from food to polygamy and (b) the proliferation of single purpose interest groups across the web (discussion forums, content communities, etc), which cultivates credible influencers in a highly concentrated category.
It is the latter phenomenon, of digital celebrities – sometimes mere screen names – that has always fascinated me. In what I consider to be THE landmark e-commerce study, a 2012 Battery Ventures report found that celebrities were downright useless in influencing behavior, but that friends and family won the day. However, the report presumed that “celebrity” meant Kim Kardashian or Brad Pitt. What if you became so closely connected to celebrities that they felt like friends or family?
This is precisely what several of our portfolio companies at Chicago Ventures are doing. Here a couple of examples:
Florists are artists. Many have Masters in Floral Arts and create dazzling displays. But due to their reliance on the wire services (1800Flowers, FTD) for business, they were relegated to de facto back office employees. Bloomnation inverted that. In creating the platform, they put the merchant first with content rich profiles that offer deep personality profiles of who you’re dealing with.
Second, they believe that florists need more opportunities to both feel and actually be important. To…