Coffee with the Cohort: in conversation with Frédéric, CEO of Foxy Nerds
On a morning in early July, I woke up wondering if I had overslept and woken up in November so bad was the weather. So, what better way to brighten my day than a chat to Frédéric Bruneau, CEO of Foxy Nerds Studio?
The start-up is an influencer marketing marketplace, using social AI to match brands with influencers that share their values taking the stress out of building an influencer campaign. With the potential to hugely disrupt B2B marketing across the board, Foxy Nerds is part of the 2020 cohort of Impact UK, so I was keen to pick Frédéric’s brain.
Here’s the lowdown of our chat…
What’s the story behind the Foxy Nerds?
Foxy Nerds actually started out as a family company — I founded it with my brother in November 2017. Essentially, in my previous company we wanted to work with influencers, but we struggled to find influencers with the right values, who we could work with for the right price. We saw this challenge and decided we couldn’t be the only ones.
We wanted to help other companies and challenge the prices on the market. We’re data guys, with data mindsets — but we wanted to help people. In under 3 years, the company has already changed a lot. We’ve going from a B2C to a B2B focus, we’ve grown from a team of 2 — me and my brother — to a team of 7, and we’ve learnt a lot. B2B and B2C influencer marketing is so different — and the campaigns are all about finding the right balance between cost and values — that’s where we feel like we really help, we help companies to strike that balance perfectly.
What have been the highlights that really stand out for you and Foxy Nerds?
The first thing that springs to mind is the launch of our beta version at the end of 2019 with over 10 customers — its hard to explain how exciting it was, and how the satisfaction that we got from seeing all our hard work over 2 years amount to something.
The other 2 highlights are actually from this year.
Firstly, we have started working with Gartner which has been a really great experience, and we’ve learnt a lot.
The 2nd has been the Impact programme — and it’s still ongoing! The Learn & Dive week was invaluable — we’ve learnt so much, we’ve met some great people, and the whole experience has been incredibly positive, both on an individual and a company level.
What piece of advice would you give a founder now that you wish you knew when you started Foxy Nerds?
Do your homework.
I think I would insist on making sure that, as a founder, you know yourself, you know your values, understand your potential customers and their pain points.
Identify your competitors, know them inside out to find a way to learn from them, and how you can improve based on their strengths and weaknesses.
Know your market — find your competitive advantage.
Finally, find the right team. You can’t do it by yourself. If you spend money on one thing, spend it on talent.
What’s next for Foxy Nerds?
There are so many exhilarating things on the horizon for us as a company. We’re close to finalising deals with 300,000 more B2B influencers worldwide, we’re in discussions with a potential business partner in the US. It’s still early days, but we’ll see. Then, of course, in September we’ll be officially launching our platform — so obviously that’s a big thing in our future.
How do you see the influencer marketing landscape changing as a result as of COVID-19?
Interestingly, it is completely changing. A lot of marketing budgets have been cut, lots of digital agencies are likely to fold, which for us will mean a huge impact on our competition, but also on any partnerships.
In terms of the global marketing landscape, I think we’ll see a reinforcement of the value approach — wanting to see the real value behind campaigns. There’ll be new marketing trends and almost certainly a change in how companies approach and work with influencers. I think we’ll see the development of smart and agile business models when it comes to influencer marketing, with companies wanting to pay for more than just a post, but rather pay for the resulting engagement.
Companies will be looking to reduce their customer acquisition cost, so will be wanting to optimise influencer partnerships, ambassadorships, and focus even more on engagement than is currently the case.
Where do you see yourselves this time next year?
By September 2021, our ambition is to be an influencer marketing leader in in ITC and Financial services for the UK market. We’re also aiming to be an important actor across Europe by this stage, and maybe even have some first referrals in the US market.
The future is bright!
How are you finding the Impact programme so far?
We’re really happy with the Impact programme. We have had the chance to meet some amazing mentors, who have been really helpful. We’ve built up invaluable contacts who we’ll keep in touch with, and based on what we’ve learnt from them we’re already making improvements to our strategy.
The Impact UK team have given us better view of the UK market and helped us build a solid go-to-market strategy.
So I suppose all that’s left to say is, see you in September UK!