Imagine you have revolutionary, industry rocking innovation; you create a business plan, pull your team together, and launch your company. You are eagerly waiting for customers, but when you ask around, no one seems to have heard about you.
How will you pull customers through your doors to buy your products or services?
You would love to work with creators and influencers to help get your name out but are unsure of:
- who would be suitable for your brand,
- how to reach out to them,
- which platform(s) to use,
- what kind of content to create,
- or how much to pay them?
There is so much manual labour involved that you become frustrated and think, could there be an easier way to connect with these influential content creators?
Pain points discovery
North Forge Ascent Stage Founder and CEO Perry Mangat of LOKA.media had discussions with creators and influencers. “It quickly became apparent that there needs to be a better way of connecting brands with multi-platform influencers on a single platform,” Perry revealed through Zoom from his sunny home office in East St. Paul, Manitoba.
“I’ve always been very passionate about marketing and always have been in the sales and marketing space. I graduated from the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba with a double major in marketing and international business.
I’ve been in sales and marketing for 20 plus years in various industries, including beverage, media, and entertainment. I’ve been a Realtor and New Home Build Specialist for a long time now; I connect sellers with buyers and create win-wins on a daily basis.”
How Perry’s idea came to be
“The idea for LOKA media originated when I recognized a gap: there was no solution to reduce manual marketing labour or a direct way of connecting brands and businesses with artists, creators, and marketing opportunities to build brand recognition,” Perry shared.
“By talking to creators in this space and realizing that their pain points are the manual process of connecting:
- a lot of DMs (direct messages),
- a lot of emails,
- and a lot of outreach.
After talking with creators, I started to put a business idea together in my head.
I found that the influencers spend a lot of their time creating content. For them, the sales and marketing themselves is a tedious administrative process that takes up valuable time that could be used to create content.
It’s tough to go out there and hunt for work when you’re trying to focus on content creation. So, I saw that there needed to be a better way to help everybody involved get better results,” remembered Perry.
Launching his company
After launching his MVP (minimum viable product), one creator emailed Perry the following: “This is a much-needed platform for our community. I was looking for a centralized way to partner with brands and other creators because, currently, that involves numerous email chains and countless direct messages. LOKA will help me save a lot of time and effort, make me money, and directly connect me with those that want to partner or collaborate on any of my social platforms.
Perry’s innovative business model is a “multi-cultural gender-inclusive global creator marketing platform and talent agency offering self-service and full-service marketing options. We connect brands and businesses with creators to create win-win marketing opportunities.
Our LOKA Shoutouts is a self-service marketplace which enables brands and businesses to purchase ready-made, ready-to-execute social marketing and digital creative services from their favourite creators.
On the full-service side, we work with artists and creators on brand sponsorships and placements for their custom content segments like films, music, and short-form videos,” explained Perry.
Perry’s business goals
LOKA’s business goals are “to help 10,000+ creators across all social platforms earn over $100,000+ a year doing what they already love.
We are creating an inclusive incubator/accelerator environment for creators to get discovered, differentiate, scale, monetize, and partner with the most loved brands, just like North Forge is doing for LOKA and its founders,” Perry said smiling widely.
How Perry discovered the North Forge Founders Program
The North Forge Founders Program has been challenging yet rewarding. Perry said that he “found out about the Founders Program by attending a RampUp Weekend event where I connected with other entrepreneurs in the digital community.”
Jumping hurdles is a sport for founders
“As a Founder with non-technical/digital background, the most challenging hurdle has been the coding and development of the technology,” Perry shared.
“I’m very thankful our Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Bhaumik Suthar has made this process smooth. I feel it’s been a great learning opportunity for me as I’ve picked up a lot during meetings with our tech teams.
In addition, as an entrepreneur, the process can be lonely at times. You need self-motivation and drive to continue to push through challenges. Mental strength is required!
I also wish I knew patience would be crucial and that I needed to be agile and go with the flow as not every step will go as planned. Pivoting is fundamental to seeing your vision come to life.”
Pivoting is a balance
Part of being a founder is learning how and when to pivot. “We originally had an idea to include self-service campaigns for our brands and businesses and have the technology ready. Instead, we shifted and chose to introduce self-service campaigns later because we wanted to focus on creators first.
We genuinely want to help our creators with the discovery, differentiation, scale, and monetization of their social marketing and digital creative services. So, we designed the service Shoutouts to help our creators until we are ready to launch the functionality of the self-service campaign,” explained Perry.
“This pivot helped us open our second office in Toronto. So many creators we’ll be working with are out that way. We’re excited about our future. We’re already working with top creators and verified Instagrammers, including Winnipeg’s own Tanisha Dhillon, American singer/artist Rosleen Sandlas, and globally renowned film and music video Director Rupan Bal,” beamed Perry. “We are looking forward to working with many more creators in the months ahead.”
The role mentorship played in Perry’s growth
North Forge’s entrepreneurs-in-residence (EIRs) are helping Perry succeed as much as Perry is helping his customers succeed.
“I have benefitted tremendously from the North Forge mentorship and EIRs, especially from Joelle Foster (CEO of North Forge), Shane Li (President of North Forge East), and Michael Simpson (Lead EIR), who have been with me from day one.
They have helped me save time, effort, and money with their expertise and advice. Without them, LOKA would still be an idea and not a viable, scalable business,” Perry shared.
A warm community inspires growth
“An unexpected takeaway from being in the Founders Program was learning how valuable the entrepreneurial community is. Leaning on and learning from each other are things I’ve genuinely valued along the way.
I always look forward to connecting with other Founders at the North Forge office and sharing our success stories. I enjoy and appreciate that we genuinely want to and can help each other out with our businesses,” Perry shared.
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Alan Kay
Making the jump into entrepreneurship is not an easy one for many. A lot of effort and commitment is needed to turn an idea into reality, but “the only tip I have for Founders looking to apply to the Founders Program is to do it now! Your dream can’t and won’t wait…give it the best chance possible to become a reality through the Founders Program,” reassured Perry.
Entrepreneurs like Perry started in the Pathfinder (ideation) stage of the North Forge Founders Program and have grown tremendously with the help of our community.
Are you thinking about turning your idea into a business?
We would love to hear from you!
Tell us about your idea (don’t worry if you don’t have the answers to all the questions yet), and our Programming Team will contact you to set up a meeting to chat about it.
* All North Forge employees sign non-disclosure agreements.