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Influencer Marketing Mavericks: Monk Entertainment

Viraj Sheth, Co-Founder and CEO of Monk Entertainment talks about challenges in the influencer marketing ecosystem, influencers turning investors, Indian creators going global and more.

By  Tasmayee Laha RoyOct 19, 2022 3:30 PM
Influencer Marketing Mavericks: Monk Entertainment
Viraj Sheth set up Monk Entertainment with Ranveer Allahbadia, who is popularly known as BeerBiceps.

Note to readers: ‘Influencers’ have forever changed the way brands and people engage with each other. Bringing together brands, content creators and digital publishers and curating a narrative for marketers are the influencer marketing agencies. They are the new-age agencies focused on the biggest disruption in the world of brands - influencer marketing. Storyboard18’s special series brings to you a view of what these influencer marketing mavericks do and how they think.

The website says ‘As you browse through this site, we've gained over 12K impressions for our brands in real time.’ Viraj Sheth, co-founder and CEO of Monk Entertainment is a strong believer in reach and engagement and that is what his company is all about, he says.

Sheth says the rise of GenZ, infotainment and regional creators has taken over influencer marketing and Monk Entertainment is working to connect the dots between these and create impact.

“You have a brand? Let us tell your story and leave it to us for a seamless execution right from the start," says 26-year-old Sheth.

Born and brought up in Mumbai, Sheth hails from a traditional Gujarati family with no background in the industry. An electrical engineer himself, Sheth met Ranveer Allahbadia popularly known as BeerBiceps in his engineering college.

While still in college Sheth started experimenting with internships across content, copywriting and digital, before joining hands with Allahbadia. With the latter’s YouTube channel, BeerBiceps still in the initial stages, Sheth soon started managing the business and campaigns while in his final semester of college. Soon after graduation the duo started Monk Entertainment.

Cut to 2022. They are managing more than fifty influencers across genres.

Sheth believes that the next phase of success in the influencer marketing ecosystem should come from the global fame of Indian creators. While global creators have managed to make a name for themselves in India, their Indian counterparts have not been able to replicate the model outside India. Alongside servicing brands with end-to-end creative and social support, Sheth’s agency is working hard to take creators in India global.

So what is Monk Entertainment?

Monk Entertainment is a talent management, influencer marketing and video production company. They specialize in enabling the best opportunities for digital creators and empowering Indian startups to scale their acquisition through influencer marketing and video production.

FACT FILE

Founded in 2017

Founders: Viraj Sheth, Co-Founder and CEO. Ranveer Allahbadia, Co- Founder of Monk Entertainment

Employees: 80

Key Clients (Brands): Unacademy, Spotify, YouTube, Zomato and Sony Music among others.

Key Clients (Influencers): Ranveer Allahbadia aka BeerBiceps, Niharika NM, Mumbiker Nikhil, Abhi and Niyu, Your Food Lab by Chef Sanjyot Keer, Ruhee Dosani, Madan Gowri, Neel Salekar aka Just Neel Things, Aanchal Agrawal, Radhika Bangia, Ted the Stoner, Dipraj Jadhav, Anisha Dixit.

GenZ content creators: Tarini Shah, Aryaki Joon, Taneesha Mirwani, Dev Raiyani, Aastha Shah, Harsh Rane, Mohak Narang, Leisha Patidar, Prableen Kaur Bhomrah and others.

Regional creators: Steffy Sunny, Mohak Narang, Ahmed Meeran, Vrushali Jawale, Naveen Singh aka Bihari Ladka, Mangesh Kakkad and others.

GET TO KNOW MONK ENTERTAINMENT

Best campaigns

Monk Entertainment counts a series called Office Canteen with Be YouNick in association with upGrad as one of its best work. This was a two-season web series airing on YouTube that garnered more than 30 million views, converted new customers for the client and also bagged the YouTube Works award for the best creator collaboration.

On the 2022 India tour of Niharika NM - enabled collaborations with the country’s biggest actors across the industries of Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada cinema to achieve viewership of over 200M+ views for Niharika within a span of 3 months. Niharika is the first ever creator to collaborate with Rocking Star Yash, Mahesh Babu, Prateek Kuhad and Siddharth and mark their debut on Reels. The other collaborations were with notable names like Ranbir Kapoor, Vijay Deverakonda, Dulquer Salman, Aamir Khan, and more.

Sony Music hosted Marvel’s Venom, their first ever screening in India in partnership with Monk. This was the agency's first movie premiere activation making their talents and friends the first to watch the movie before anyone else in the country.

The company also licensed The Ranveer Show to Spotify as an exclusive podcast. This was Spotify's first exclusive acquisition in India.

Monk enabled global opportunities for its creators. Niharika NM x Natalie Portman, Ranveer Allahbadia x Arnold Schwarzenegger, Manchester City x Bhuvan Bam and Gaurav Taneja.

One of the biggest brand projects till date involved creator Ruhee Dosani who was the face for H&M India’s New Smiley collection making her the first Asian content creator to have collaborated with H&M for this property.

Biggest Challenge

Sheth spotlights the main challenge: "One of the key issues is the lack of transparency that agencies have in terms of the commissions/margins they charge. Creators that are exclusively signed to an agency will expect utmost transparency and that is what we provide by sharing a common email address with the creator where they can directly access the conversations between the talent manager and the brand. We also maintain a P&L between the creator and us to ensure that the deal tracking is done in a systematic manner."

Timely payments are another major issue that creators regularly face with agencies, says Sheth. He adds, "We’ve enabled a 30-day payment policy from the date of invoice from our end for all payments for our roster of creators, regardless of whether we receive it or not from the client."

Biggest opportunity and how to leverage it

One of the next big opportunities is in the fact that creators are turning investors. Creators don’t just have capital but they also have one thing that is extremely rare amongst most investors - social capital, says Sheth. "Because of their network and distribution online, creators will be able to get a seat at the table and truly be able to generate wealth by being investors in India’s biggest up and coming companies. We’re connecting creators with founders and VCs to make these associations happen. We are also consultants to plenty of founders and VCs who reach out to us to bring on creators on their cap tables."

Another massive opportunity is to take Indian creators global, says the founder. "We have seen the opposite happen quite often -- global creators getting popular in India, although there have barely been any cases of Indian creators making it big globally. This is our next focus with creators like Niharika NM and BeerBiceps whose English-speaking content is reaching out to audiences globally. We are leveraging collaborations with international creators, exploring work opportunities with the global arms of OTT platforms like Netflix, Prime Video to make this happen."

Next big disruption coming down the line for the industry

"The next big thing in influencer marketing is sustainable partnerships. Brands and agencies want to work with creators that resonate with them and want to do it at prices that are sustainable in the long run. A lot of the brands and creators are also now keen on seeking deeper relationships in the form of long-term deals with each other instead of engaging with multiple brands or multiple creators. We will also be seeing a lot of hybrid deals (half equity + half cash) being enabled between top creators and top and emerging startups."

Top five trends that will change the industry/ecosystem

1. Content creators are becoming increasingly important for movie promotions because of the visibility, audience and relatability they bring with them.

2. The rise of nano and micro-influencers has taken over.

3. Short-form video content has been a hit and is here to stay.

4. Content creators turning entrepreneurs and startup investors

5. Brands Will Look for long term Partnerships Instead of One-Off Projects

Annoying things all clients do all the time

1. Focus too much on making the logo bigger.

2. Say that they love giving creative freedom to creators but don’t actually follow that philosophy.

3. See what their competitors have done and copy it blindly.

Three questions for brand managers

1) How much bigger do you want your logo to be?

2) Are you shortlisting influencers based on your personal liking or basis the right fit for your brand?

3) How can agencies do better in servicing your requirements?

Three questions you have for influencers

1. Are you preparing well enough for your future in a career path that has a very short shelf life?

2. Are you building a team that will help you scale your operations as a creator so that you don’t drain yourself out in the process?

3. How have things changed for you after you got famous?

First Published on Oct 18, 2022 8:09 AM