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Pioneer of the Week - Steve Bartlett of Social Chain

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Pioneer of the Week - Steve Bartlett of Social Chain

Our Pioneer of the Week is Steve Bartlett of Social Chain, Europe's largest influencer marketing agency. Their innovative approach to marketing helps companies get in front of millions of people at the click of button. Let's find out more!

1. Tell us 3 important things we should know about you.

  • I’m 22. 

  • I dropped out of university after one lecture.

  • I run Europe’s largest influencer marketing agency.

2. Tell us about your business. How did it start? Did you set it up alone or with a team?

We own hundreds of massive social media pages across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. These include fun, topical, interest-based, informative and celebrity channels. This means that in the click of one button, we can make around 66 million people see any message we want, at once. It’s powerful. When we seamlessly talk about brands, services or products through our channels, millions of people see it instantly, huge hype is generated, and thousands of people talk. We can effectively make anything trend on twitter within twenty minutes, and we’ve driven people to Microsoft, Just-Eat, Spotify and Universal Pictures, to name but a few!

3. What do you love most about running your own business?

Freedom. Freedom to wear what you want every day, the freedom to choose who you work with, and the freedom to choose where and how you work. I love that I have the power to sculpt the culture of the place I work. This means our staff are treated EXACTLY how I would want to be treated if I worked for this company, and it means that people genuinely look forward to coming to work on Monday mornings. It’s great to hire people too and give them unique opportunities.

4. Tell us about a challenging experience you’ve faced in the process of starting up your business and how you overcame it.

A big challenge we faced at the start was how we explain to clients what we do. The great challenge everyone faces when they’re disrupting an industry is that there often isn’t a model for what you’re doing already out there for people to liken it to.

5. What advice could you give to other startups about starting up in your industry?

Scale up from profit - I think that’s just a safer way to play it when starting an agency. Find something that sells, start with one client, and when they love you and come back for more, use the profits to grow.

6. Can you share an experience that really helped you take your business forward?

Last month we closed a major investment deal to make our agency the biggest of its kind globally. We actually raised the money from a client who had used us, seen the results, and wanted a piece of the pie. 

7. Many people start their businesses at home, where do you work? What do you love about it?

We were travelling the world and running the company from our laptops in Rio, Thailand, America, London and in Europe. It wasn’t ideal, but it was fine at the time. Now we have a lovely office in Hammersmith.


8. What are three things you know now that you wish someone had told you when you first started?

My first company was a student social network which I exited when I was 21 - I raised investment from 8 investors. So in this answer I’m including all the things I learnt then too: 

  • Build for the future and stay ahead of innovation and trends. I stupidly built a web solution when everything was evidently moving mobile.

  • Raise way more than you think you’ll need if you’re a tech start-up.

  • People will make or break you and they’ll shape your company's culture - choose wisely. Choose people that fit the culture, rather than trying to shape a culture to the people.

9. Is there anything specific you’d like to ask or share with the Virgin Media Pioneers community?

I’m always looking to invest in cool stuff, so if you’ve got an idea or you want to connect about anything else, contact me at!

10. Finish the sentence: "To be an entrepreneur…

" have to believe you can be an entrepreneur."

To find out more about Social Chain check out their website, or connect on Twitter.

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Awesome read! As an e-commerce brand looking to acquire sales we have used influencer marketing in the past to accomplish a lot of KPI goals. This will be a huge trend in 2015! Using services like Niche, Exposely (influencer marketing platform), and TapInfluence we saw huge increase in sales. I'm curious how a "UK" influencer marketing platform stacks up against the top US platforms as they typically have a lot of the same influencers/users.
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I've worked with the Social Chain on 5 client campaigns for the last 3 months. They are phenomenal when it comes to the UK market. I think the big difference is they own the UK space. They don't just work with Influencers, they actually own and run nearly all of the Big UK twitter community pages.