News, Insights and Stories from the Australian and New Zealand tech ecosystem.

Social influencer startup Tribe raises $5.35 million Series A to fund global expansion

A few months after announcing its intention to raise $5 million in fresh funding, social media influencer startup Tribe has officially closed its Series A, raising $5.35 million in a round led by Exto Partners.

With participation from existing and other private investors, the funding will go towards helping the startup expand into overseas markets and further develop its tech platform.

Launched late last year by television personality Jules Lund, Tribe helps connect brands to social media personalities, or ‘influencers’, for bespoke marketing campaigns. It got off the blocks with $2.4 million seed funding in its back pocket from investors including Catch Group’s Gabby and Hezi Leibovich, Matt Berriman of Unlockd, and Expert 360 cofounder Bridget Loudon.

Anthony Svirskis, CEO of Tribe, said the startup brought on an analyst to assess potential expansion markets according to 10 key metrics including social media penetration, competitive density, and consumer trust in referral marketing, as well as basic factors like the cost of market entry and ease of doing business in a particular market.

“We reached a point pretty quickly since launch, and we’re not yet 12 months in the market, where we felt that our trajectory and the core numbers on the platform in the local market, were really strong, and understanding the space we’re in moves very quickly, we wanted to take what we have in Australia and go into new markets,” Svirskis said.

“We’ve derived a top 10-20 hit-list, and as a board will assess what entry into each looks looks like. We’re also looking at, strategically, does this bring us closer to the next stage of our business? There are a few key strategic variables we’re trying to build into our company to bring us closer to a Series B in the next 18 months.”

The startup reports that it is growing 20 percent month on month; there are now around 4,500 influencers on the platform servicing 500 brands including Adidas, Disney, and American Express.

Svirskis said Instagram sees by far the most action through Tribe, making up around 80 percent of campaigns. This of course correlates with the popularity of Instagram itself and the fact that, as an image-focused platform, it lends itself well to Tribe’s target market of 20 to 30 year olds.

There is no real surprise when it comes to the industries that most often use the platform either, with brands in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), fitness, health, lifestyle, and travel spaces particularly active.

“One of the core fundamentals of what we did when we built this company was try to establish a strong foundation for the industry, and give the industry legitimacy. Part of that was thinking our influencers should be customers of the brand, because that guarantees it the largest level of authenticity. That’s particularly conducive to brands in the FMCG space,” Svirskis said.

Flagged the opening of its Series A round in April, Tribe stated that five months into trading it had surpassed a $1 million annualised run rate and had generated revenue from day one.

The closing of the Series A now for Tribe adds another element to what has been an interesting market to observe this year; the social media influencer space has seen significant action in 2016, with fellow Australian startup VAMP bringing on Leo Burnett’s Todd Sampson as a non-executive director and investor while discussing plans to list on the ASX.

Meanwhile, former Wallaby Lote Tuqiri launched new player HooZu and older player HypeTap launched a creative agency to give clients end-to-end support through the process of engaging an influencer and creating a campaign.

Svirskis, however, is unperturbed.

“Ultimately competition is validation, validation that the market is buoyant and moving in the right direction. We don’t look too hard at our competitors, we very much perceive our product as being unique,” he said.

Tribe is confident, he said, in its tech product and the “nuances” of its business model.

This confidence will help push the startup forward as it looks to expand globally, with Svirskis saying he expects Tribe to be active in two or three international markets within the next 12 months.

Image: Anthony Svirskis and Jules Lund. Source: Supplied.