There’s no denying the power of influencer marketing. And businesses across all industries are cottoning on to this growing channel with a huge potential to expand their brand’s reach.
This is particularly true in hospitality, where word-of-mouth recommendations are invaluable.
But as a fairly new phenomenon, there are still a lot of unknowns, both in terms of measuring ROI and the logistics and processes around securing the right influencers and managing campaigns.
Having worked for a startup that tackles admin issues in hospitality previously (and running a side-hustle micro-influencer account) Mike Radley and Jamie Frew saw a real opportunity to create a business specifically connecting food businesses and influencers.
In this exclusive interview with Small Business, co-founder Mike shares more about why Nibble is such a timely proposition, the challenges of finding the right investors and why speaking to your customers regularly is key to success.
Tell us a bit more about your background as an entrepreneur?
To be honest, I’ve never seen myself as an entrepreneur.
Nibble was an idea we first started talking about two years ago. This is just a situation where we identified a real problem, I experienced it myself, and we figured out a solution. The timing couldn’t be more pressing and only through market research and launching an MVP did we realise how right we were.
Sum up Nibble, when did the business start and what is the big ambition for the business?
Jamie and I were on a work trip at our old company – Trail. It was out in the sticks, mid-winter, somewhere in Norfolk. We were sat in a pub round by a fire having whiskey (like the start of most romantic novels) and I told him the problem and we fleshed it out together.
Influencer marketing as an industry is booming, and it’s not slowing down. Yet when it came to process and management, it was completely inefficient for both influencers and marketers who would just spending hours emailing back and forth trying to arrange a collaboration. Then there’s the follow ups too. Unless you’re a celeb with a PR agent, most influencers struggle with admin.
The reality is most social media influencers have full time jobs and spend any free time editing content, attending events, engaging with other social accounts and researching hashtags or the right soundtrack to play over TikTok reels. Keeping up was a struggle, I wanted to make life easier really.
We realised hospitality brands were equally frustrated and there was very little way of measuring influencer marketing as a channel. Everything should be measurable. With Nibble we have the opportunity to be the leading micro-influencer marketplace for any physical location, whether it’s a salon, gym, pet shop, pub or restaurant. Local marketing that’s affordable and measurable which couldn’t be timelier considering tighter budgets and costs rising.
Why did you see such a big demand for influencer marketing in the hospitality industry particularly?
There’s no process. Most brands don’t know where to start when it comes to influencer marketing, others outsource it to agencies who can help but it’s still a manual, expensive process. We built Nibble to simplify the booking management and communication process whilst giving influencers more choice, on demand.
Restaurants need footfall and bookings. If I owned a vegan café in Clapham, it makes sense for me to work with a South London vegan micro-influencer/foodie with a local audience that suits my brand. I get authentic content creation for socials and I reach a niche, local audience likely to visit my cafe. A complimentary pizza in return for content and coverage doesn’t cost me too much and that’s less of a risk than paying a macro influencer or celebrity (and their agent) a lot of money that just isn’t there anymore for most hospitality businesses.
Marketing budgets are tighter than ever, it’s no longer viable for brands to spend heaps of money on Meta ads or PPC where it’s over £0.30p a click or impression. With Nibble, it’s about 0.001p – and we’ve made this measurable which up until now has been a struggle for marketers. Plus, influencer content is authentic and not recycled stock images used on ads that everyone’s bored of.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you in launching and growing the business to date?
Finding the right investors took us a while. There were a lot of chats, but ultimately with the wrong investors. Fortunately, we figured this out early and we couldn’t be happier with our cap table in this early stage. Everyone brings different advice and experience; we really wanted each investor to add something different and we got it.
How have you built up the network of influencers on the platform?
Fortunately, this hasn’t been too difficult. Nibble is free for influencers and saves them time whilst giving them more choice – an easy sell really. 52 per cent of influencers we’ve reached out to have signed up. Social media has been the best way to communicate with them which was expected.
You’ve recently raised external funding, what does the next 12 months look like for Nibble?
We’ve been busy making sure our product is ready for go-to-market, and we’re pretty much there now which is exciting. Massive shout out to Dan, our technical lead, for the hard work. We’re working on the brand experience now, and recently integrated to TikTok.
We’ve just launched on the App Store and we’ve got targets in place over the next 12 months associated to number of influencers, number of brands and number of bookings whilst testing and learning things along the way.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to fellow or aspiring entrepreneurs?
Never assume you know the answer. I thought I knew what customers wanted at the start, but it changed. Speak to your customers all the time – as much as possible. I learn something new every time. We had some early adopters on the app who have been so supportive and helpful. They share our vision and really champion what we’re doing – finding those in the early stages is golden.
You can reach Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with him on LinkedIn or via Nibble App’s website.
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