Powerspike // connecting brands and creators on Twitch with a self-serve advertising platform [UP094]

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Jay Clouse 0:02
You know Eric on the show time and time again, founders talk about the importance of hiring great employees.

Eric Hornung 0:07
And they always say it’s so hard and so important early on to hire the right person.

Jay Clouse 0:13
That makes a lot of sense that it’s difficult because most founders don’t have experience doing high level searches or hiring top level talent.

Eric Hornung 0:20
And they’re also limited to their local talent pool a lot of the times.

Jay Clouse 0:24
That’s why a lot of founders choose to work with SPMB, one of the fastest growing executive search firms in the country. For over 40 years, SPMB has specialized in recruiting upper management and board members to early stage VC funded startups and larger growth stage companies too.

Eric Hornung 0:39
They bring the knowledge of a large global firm and combine it with the personalized service and attention of a boutique.

Jay Clouse 0:46
They have a dedicated team focusing on the Mountain West and Midwest emerging tech markets. So no matter where you are in the country, if you’re trying to hire top level talent, SPMB can help you out.

Eric Hornung 0:56
If that sounds like you, you can go to upside.fm/spmb to learn how they are closing hundreds of C level searches annually.

A.J. Damiano 1:11
We started to see some buying behavior from our customers directly where they were coming to us and they were actually spending like $10,000 or $20,000 with us. And they were saying hey, we’ll give you this money for a campaign but you got to do everything for us. We don’t want to touch it. We don’t want to deal with the creators or you know, do any of the work.

Jay Clouse 1:31
The startup investment landscape is changing and world class companies are being built outside of Silicon Valley. We find them, talk with them and discuss the upside of investing in them. Welcome to Upside.

Eric Hornung 1:58
Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to the Upside podcast. The first podcast finding upside outside Silicon Valley. I’m Eric Hornung and I’m accompanied by my co-host, Mr. Influencer Himself, Jay Clouse. Jay, do you consider yourself an influencer?

Jay Clouse 2:15
I don’t but I do consider myself an amateur salesman.

Eric Hornung 2:21
Hmm. What is the difference between an amateur salesman and an influencer?

Jay Clouse 2:25

Eric Hornung 2:30
That’s something that’s something someone with with low ego would say. So here’s here’s the thing, how many advertisers do you think you’ve worked with throughout your career as an amateur salesman?

Jay Clouse 2:44
Well, I can tell you pretty close, actually, in an approximate approximization.

Eric Hornung 2:50
Oh, yeah. Good word.

Jay Clouse 2:52
I don’t know if that’s a real word. I’ve had about 20 to 25 advertisers on Creative Elements. And we’ve had probably around 30 advertisers on Upside, including classified and everything. So I mean, like pure advertisers, 50 to 75. I’m forgetting some random things somewhere.

Eric Hornung 3:12
That’s a lot of I mean, across your newsletter and everything. That’s a lot of relationships to juggle I feel like.

Jay Clouse 3:17
It’s true and I’ve really appreciated working with the Podglomerate network on Creative Elements, because they do all that wrangling for me. And there’s a fair amount of wrangling, especially in like the higher level podcasting world. The payment terms are just so slow, you get things so slowly had to follow up and follow up and follow up and follow up and it’s a pain in the butt. It’s not something that a lot of creators want to do.

Eric Hornung 3:45
It doesn’t feel like you know, I think the podcasting world for all of its flaws has gotten pretty good at that marketing campaign. Those advertising managements like the understanding of how everything works. There’s a couple other industries though in the content space, specifically gaming that have not so my brother NungFPS on Twitch, you can go check them out, is a full time streamer. And that ecosystem around advertising and sponsorship and influencers and amateur salesman there is just so different.

Jay Clouse 4:17
Yeah, believe it also I’m just realizing now that his gamer tag Nung comes from the last name Hornung. Put that together.

Eric Hornung 4:23
Wow. You’ve known about this for like two and a half years at this point.

Jay Clouse 4:27
I didn’t really get it. I was like, what does it mean? I had the word for a while. I thought it was nug I had like nuggets in my head like spicy nuggets. Nung makes a lot more sense.

Eric Hornung 4:37
Yeah, I’m glad you picked that up a little bit of amateurization there on your end but that’s okay.

Jay Clouse 4:42
Pretty professional to show up to your brother’s bachelor party with a whole recording and streaming setup though and to go out on the patio and do like some live stuff in the morning before you know sports were to commence.

Eric Hornung 4:55
Well, just like you’re doing Tweet100 on Twitter, which, dear listener if you want to check out you can go to tweet100.com. That’s tweet100.com, join Jay and his friends on Twitter as they tweet away for a 100 days. My brother is doing stream 365 so even on my bachelor party, he had to stream for a couple hours, connect with his audience and he’s trying to do every single day of 2021.

Jay Clouse 5:20
Wow, wild. Well, that’s what it takes to go professional. And our guest today is helping to make streamers and gamers become more professional with their advertising operations. We’re talking with A.J. Damiano, the co-founder and CEO of PowerSpike, which helps you create campaigns, connect with Twitch influencers and teams at scale. Without all the busy work making it simple to advertise on Twitch. A lot of what we’re just complaining about, PowerSpike is trying to make that a lot easier for the creator and for the advertisers at the same time.

Eric Hornung 5:55
Seems like a no brainer solution. I’m super interested to hear this interview. But Jay, I am not going to be in this interview. What happened?

Jay Clouse 6:03
You left me out in the cold actually, this is one of those rare situations where if we just couldn’t find a time that worked for us and A.J. I think we reschedule this thing like four times. But we kept with it because I was really excited to talk to A.J. and his company. And on the eve of the the final interview time, you got pulled into something I don’t remember, but I just wanted to do it.

Eric Hornung 6:27
And I’m excited that you did do it because it seems like it’s going to be an awesome interview. I can’t wait to listen, I can’t wait to meet everyone after this interview. If you have something on this interview you want to talk about, if you’re into Twitch, if you’re into advertising, if you fancy yourself to be an amateur salesman, hit us up @upsidefm on Twitter, or something a little longer at hello@upside.fm. And we’ll get to that interview with A.J. right after this.

Jay Clouse 6:55
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Alright, A.J. so excited to finally make this happen. Here on Upside, we like to start with a little bit of a history of the guest. So tell us what was going on in a jist world pre PowerSpike.

A.J. Damiano 9:01
Yeah, absolutely Jay, thanks for having me here. So pre PowerSpike, I was actually a college student and my background was as a caster for World of Warcraft. I used to do the equivalent of sports casting in the eSports and gaming world where I would commentate the games and walk through people like play by play for every single reader match RPG badge that was going on the game was it was a kind of fun but my background was both as a caster and a creator. I started YouTube channel back in 2014. I built this awesome following on there and I transitioned to twitch around the same time. And I got involved with casting eSports tournaments with doing post production and with building these events live on Twitch and really the inspiration for Powerspike. And where things came from was I got involved with this organization that was building all of these community based eSports tournaments and events on Twitch back in 2014. They were and they were pretty successful events we had like 1000s of people who were tuning in and actually watching them. But we had this really big challenge, which was that we had to spend 1000 of dollars to actually get the players to show up for the prize pools of the events. And we were broke college students at the time who had like 50 bucks in our bank account so we had no way to really continue doing this over time. So we were faced with this really interesting dilemma, which is, how are we going to raise the funds to actually make this happen? And how are we going to actually make these events possible? And so we looked at a few different options to do it, we looked at getting advertisers on the event, and like just running ads on the stream, but everybody was using an ad blocker at the time in 2014 so that wasn’t really going to work. We looked at getting donations from our community and getting our people to donate who are watching us. But we didn’t really get a lot of people to donate so that wasn’t really going to work either. And so we turn to one last option, which we thought would be great. And it’s where most creators turned to today when they want to monetize, which was, hey, why don’t we attach a sponsor or a brand to this event? And so we reached out to 100 different brands and advertisers looking for a sponsorship. And we got two responses, one of them was rejection but but one of them was a brand that was actually interested in working with us. And so began this process of, it was like 150 hours of us reaching out to the brand, negotiating the agreement, redlining contracts, managing invoices, working with talent for post production to figure out how the ad was actually going to be integrated, making sure that the talent was saying it right. And that, you know, going through edits and revisions, the whole process was so tedious. And by the time we were done with it, it was like we were building it an entirely different company in itself, just trying to manage the sponsorships on their own it. And essentially we we figured we wanted to solve that problem. And that’s became the inspiration for Powerspike.

Jay Clouse 12:04
So the money you guys were trying to raise was for the pool, the winnings pool? That was my

A.J. Damiano 12:09
That’s right.

Jay Clouse 12:10
That’s why like professional gamers were coming on to do the stream, was for the prize pool?

A.J. Damiano 12:16
That’s right. Yep, you typically needed a prize pool. It was it was amateur to professional, it was a mix of the two, it was more so just community events. But you needed to have some reason for people to show up. And the prize pools ranged anywhere from could be 1000 to we had events that were upwards of $10,000.

Jay Clouse 12:35
Help me understand this timeline in context with Twitch in streaming, generally, you’re talking about 2014, which is years before I was aware of this space, what was what was it like in 2014?

A.J. Damiano 12:47
Well, Twitch was just barely breaking out, they had just gotten acquired by Amazon. And that was like the big news of the year like, Amazon acquires Twitch for a billion dollars, everyone was looking at that, like what is going on? This is crazy. People were just starting to hear about eSports during this time, too. And it was still a very nascent. I mean, it still is today but it was still a very nascent industry at the time. Lots of events were still happening in hotel lobbies, and, you know, different conference rooms. So it was still a really, really early days in the industry. And where anybody could essentially create a stream on Twitch and broadcast an Esports event out of their bedroom, and they could get 1000 people coming out and watching them. And that was like literally exactly what we did.

Jay Clouse 13:35
Crazy. And how did you become aware of this so early?

A.J. Damiano 13:38
Well for me, I’ve always been a gamer my entire life. And I was previously one of the top rated players in World of Warcraft, specifically, like RPGs and arenas. I focused a ton like it was literally my game of choice during high school, I would come home, you know, get my homework done. And then I just like play for the entire evening or until my mom or dad would kick me off the computer and say you got to go to bed but but it was literally the game that I played late and obsessed over in high school. So for myself, I was already really involved in the culture. And I had been watching Twitch since it was called Justin.tv back in like 2010. So for me, I had this really unique background where I understood the culture, I was a gamer myself, and it kind of lent itself to you know, the future development of the company.

Jay Clouse 14:26
So World of Warcraft, predated Twitch, right? So you guys are probably playing online in these groups. And then suddenly, you had the opportunity to start streaming what you’re doing to a public audience, is that what it felt like?

A.J. Damiano 14:38
Yeah, that’s right. And, you know, the really interesting thing is in the early days, it was very difficult to even stream because broadband like bandwidth across the United States hadn’t really been like all the wiring hadn’t been. And so if you were in more of a rural area, you were probably only getting like, oh man, it was like 10 megabytes up if you were lucky. And that was barely enough to put forward like a 40 piece stream on Twitch. So it was it was pretty difficult in the early days to even like just go live and figure out how to do it. You had to pick the most premium package in your phone bill. But yeah, once I got to college, and once I managed to get on some pretty good internet, that was like the first time I could actually start to experiment with it and try it out.

Jay Clouse 15:25
Yeah, I believe that when I was when I was a kid, I played Medal of Honor Allied Assault online and I got a dial up connection. And my my ping, I didn’t know what payment at the time, I just knew that mine was really high and it was really bad. And we would go into like these these clan matches. And they would just put me up there because I was hard to hit because I would literally just like lag across the screen. So I get I can imagine that like, streaming on top of that, there’s just no way that I would have possibly been able to pull that off.

A.J. Damiano 15:53
The funny story on it, there was like a hack in World of Warcraft, like ages ago, I won’t spend too much time on this was like it was called a lag box where you would like intentionally make your connection lag so you could do exactly that and like you would like fly across the entire

Jay Clouse 16:09
I miss those days. So how did you and why did you make the leap from, hey, I’m one of the best wild players in the world. But actually, I’m just gonna go and cast now, I’m gonna be a caster, I’m gonna broadcast and commentate on this. Why did that transition happen?

A.J. Damiano 16:24
I think one of the things that I really enjoyed, whether it was when I was creating content on YouTube, or just playing the game in general, I love teaching other people the game and showing other people how it worked and educating others on how to get better at it. And for me, casting was one way to, or I just I just enjoyed being creative in general. I enjoyed like building content around the game and talking to people about the game. Casting was one of those places where it can become a creative outlet for me to make content around the game, to broadcast it to an audience and to build a community. I think that that was something that was it was really what I wanted to do initially was to build a community within the gaming and eSports space. And yeah, just produce these events. So yeah, I would say that that would be the inspiration.

Jay Clouse 17:16
And was this done like independently or was there an organization that’s like, hey, come commentate for us, you know, like, the way Fox and NBC does?

A.J. Damiano 17:23
Yeah, there was an organization at the time of a group of content creators that I got invited to I was like, starry eyed at the time, it was a bunch of people that I like, watched on YouTube, and they’re like, come work with us. And I was like, what this is so cool. But it was a group of like a bunch of World of Warcraft creators at the time and people who were making videos on YouTube, lots of guides and things like that. And they were all coming together to make this collective of creating both events and content on YouTube and Twitch.

Jay Clouse 17:58
Okay, well, I wanted to spend a little time on that backstory because it’s like, fascinating to me. You guys figure out okay, to get these prize pools, we can bring brands in here, but it turned out to be a lot of work. Didn’t have to be your work so why did you decide like, okay, this is what I’m going to take on next as a challenge, as opposed to trying to find someone else to build the infrastructure for that while you do your, your creator thing?

A.J. Damiano 18:20
Well, you know, to be honest, at the time, we were running out of money on the casting side of it, and things were not going into the best direction with it. It was tough. I mean, we were trying to get the funds raised, but we couldn’t get them raised fast enough from the sponsors to get them on the events. It was just too much for a two person, like a four person team to manage at the time It was a real struggle because the challenge at the time was in 2014, nobody really knew about Twitch, especially on the branded advertiser side, I mean, like, the thing is, is that if you’re managing, you know, a million dollar ad budget for a company, a lot of times people don’t want to take risks on new platforms and don’t want to try things out. So while we had this amazing following, we were constantly in like the top five streams on Twitch, when we went live, it was still really challenging for us to get any kind of dollars through the door. And we were just sort of fed up with having to struggle all the time to try and make this thing work when it just wasn’t. And so what we decided to do was myself and a few people from that team, we decided to leave and start PowerSpike. And really the goal of it was looking back at that experience and what we had gone through, we realized that this was a huge problem in the space, not just I mean, we really weren’t thinking at it from the brand aspect at the time. We were really looking at it from the creators aspect. It’s like man, this was really hard to get a sponsorship. People like us have got it like there’s got to be other streamers who have the same problem. Like it’s got to get people who are going through this. What if we could solve that?

Jay Clouse 19:58
Yeah, I mean, there is such a thing as being too early, right? I’m thinking back to 2014. Also, I feel like brand sponsorships and partnerships probably weren’t even that big on YouTube yet at the time.

A.J. Damiano 20:09
No, not at all. Influencer marketing was just barely a term at the time companies like FameBit. Were some of the first people who jumped in. And it was very early for the industry. I mean, most brands weren’t even experimenting with it or trying anything yet.

Jay Clouse 20:21
So how did you start to get brands to pay attention and try this? Because it seems like you could be in the same position where instead of being a creator, that no one is ready to back yet. Now you’re a company that might not be ready to back yet. So how did how did you make that that work?

A.J. Damiano 20:36
Well, you know, the beautiful thing is that, I think we were just so naive at the time. And there’s, there’s almost a competitive advantage in it. Like, we were sophomores in college when we started it. And we were like, yeah, we’re just, we’re gonna build a startup company, we’re gonna do it, you know, we had this sort of chip on our shoulder, like, you know, we’re gonna make it work and we’re gonna figure it out. And I think that that naivete was a was a big competitive advantage because honestly, like when we started in 2015, we were early, and the industry hadn’t caught up yet, brands were not jumping in and spending money on this platform yet. And we also had absolutely no clue what we were doing so what it gave us though, was this, the first few years, we were still in college, and you know, we didn’t have any bills overhead and we didn’t really have anything that was holding us back from doing this. And we had this amazing community at Syracuse University, where there were business plan competitions, we got to compete in. There were tons of different events and like mentors that they hooked us up with through the launchpad program there at the school, where we were able to get all of this feedback, advice and mentorship on our business, as well as some non dilutive capital in the early stages that we could just bootstrap the company off of. And while we were early, it was actually sort of a blessing for us because it gave us a few years to figure out what we were going to build and how to actually build a company. And it wasn’t until 2018, when we entered the Techstars program in Atlanta, that things really started to pick up for both the business and for PowerSpike. And we started to see some really serious traction behind our idea and what we were building.

Jay Clouse 22:25
What was the the pitch in the model, pre Techstars?

A.J. Damiano 22:29
Pre Techstars our goals of company was to build an influencer CRM for managing your campaigns on Twitch. So we wanted to build a platform that what that means is we wanted to build a platform that gives you a set of tools, which makes it easier for your team to manage a twitch influencer campaign by hand. So we’ll give you discovery tools to find the right creators or a CRM to manage creators through each stage of the process. And then maybe like an analytics dashboard to show you how well all the critters performed. And that was like the pitch for PowerSpike of hey, here’s this awesome technology, say you go do all the work. But it’s going to make it a little bit easier for you to do it.

Jay Clouse 23:10
That doesn’t sound super far from what I understand the company to be doing today. So tell me what the pitch is today so I can kind of see the differences.

A.J. Damiano 23:19
Yeah so one of the biggest challenges and things that we ran into when we put that product out in the market was, we found very quickly that brands and advertisers don’t want to do the work and it’s a lot of work to do. We didn’t realize how much work it was to use one of these CRM platforms. But when we actually interviewed our customers, and we spoke to like 100 different people during the program, we found out, no, it’s actually taking us like 150 hours to execute every campaign that we do even with a CRM. And so this really got us starting to think of like, hey, you know, this is really interesting. And then what happened was, we started to see some buying behavior from our customers directly, where they were coming to us, and they were actually spending like $10,000 or $20,000 with us. And they were saying, hey, we’ll give you this money for a campaign but you got to do everything for us. We don’t want to touch it, we don’t want to deal with the creators or do any of the work. And this was a really interesting product insight to us. The more we looked at this, the more we realized that the product that we need to be building here is not a influence or CRM that makes it easier for brands to do all the work and manage the campaigns internally, what we need to do is we need to make the process so simple, and so easy and so seamless, that they don’t have to do any work at all. And we need to productize this behavior of spend money, get results. And so that was really the flip switch of what changed for PowerSpike and what that evolved into was what we do today, which is we’ve essentially created the Google ads for influencer sponsorships. What you do is you come to our platform, you say, we essentially enable advertisers and gaming influencers to buy and sell these endorsement campaigns through overnight auctions. So you come to the platform, you say, hey, I’m looking for males 18 to 34. Interested in food and beverage products and alcohol, here’s my budget, this is what I’m looking for, click go. At that point, you’re done. There’s no day to day management, there’s no back and forth of the creators, you don’t have to manage any part of the campaign. That little transition, that little switch saves companies about 150 hours of work per campaign. But it’s also super complicated to build because what that meant is that we had to figure out how to automate every single little step that goes into writing those campaigns in between.

Jay Clouse 25:50
Super interesting, this feels like behavior or like desires on the part of the brands, the partners, that’s probably driven by like this ad economy, like you’re saying, where they’re used to, like, I just want to choose the demographics and some, some information about what these people care about, I know who our customer is, we want to drop money into it and make sure that we’re getting a return on it for less than we invested.

A.J. Damiano 26:11
That is like literally, exactly. And with, you know, with Google ads, and with Facebook ads, the cats are going up today, like increasingly, especially with all the restrictions on like data usage and things like that. Influencers are quickly becoming a much bigger spending channel for a lot of brands who want to get involved in and you know, be a part of the space. So yeah, absolutely. There’s there’s huge opportunities there for any company that’s trying to get involved.

Jay Clouse 26:39
I remember hearing, I don’t know if it’s a few months or maybe even a couple years back, there were some brands that were getting upset because their content was being dropped onto YouTube channels that they felt like we’re not a fit with the brand. So even though they don’t want to do a lot of this work of I want to choose who was really aligned. It seems like they also want to make sure that it’s not going in some extreme direction, they have some control. Have you guys had to deal with that?

A.J. Damiano 27:04
Yeah, absolutely. It’s the brand safety is the term and it’s a huge problem in the influencer marketing space. One of the biggest challenges, it was one of the biggest challenges that we had to solve early on. And this really kind of boils back to like a lot of the things that you have to automate. You know, it’s like little things like that, that he wouldn’t necessarily think of until you really get to the process, like, okay, how do you make sure it’s going to you just get the right person for the job? So what we ended up doing was we built this super complex matching algorithm that learns as it runs more campaigns. So as it sees creators that are like continuing to do really great, it continues to bump those creators up to the top and get more sponsorship. So then, if somebody like a bad player in the system, or you know, is, you know, unprofessionally bad mouthing a brand or, you know, is has some sort of like, public disaster, then typically, they’re going to get like kicked out of the system, or they’ll be downgraded in the algorithm. So we’ve built this solution that learns over time and gets better as it goes. And then we also do like brand safety checks on our end, we use sentiment analysis to look through literally every message that’s been sent on a stream and, you know, make sure that anybody who’s getting hired for a campaign that hat fits a certain brand safety standard, and that we’re not hiring anybody who the brand’s going to look at and be like, oh, you know, that’s not somebody who’s going to be a fit for the campaign.

Jay Clouse 28:29
So is the campaign creative? Is it something that’s being like, overlaid on the screen during the stream or is the influencer doing live reads for this type of thing?

A.J. Damiano 28:41
Yeah, it’s actually a live read by the creator. So they are shouting out the brand, they’re giving an endorsement. They’re, you know, wearing a t-shirt, or you’re drinking a cup of coffee with the brand’s logo on it, whatever it may be but it’s an actual in stream integration.

Jay Clouse 28:56
Crazy, because I’m thinking about like the mechanics of doing. You said like, it’s like an auction, right? It’s kind of the way that Google ads, does it.

A.J. Damiano 29:03

Jay Clouse 29:03
So there’s an auction but then by the time I win the auction, now that creative has to be delivered to the influencer, they have to record this. It seems a little bit more complex than Google ads, because now there’s creative that has to be like co created on the part of whoever got one at the auction, essentially.

A.J. Damiano 29:20
Yeah and then it has to be approved. And you know, you have to make sure that the creative actually lines up with, you know what they agreed to do. And that’s a whole process in itself. Yeah, figuring out how to automate all of this stuff was a almost two to three year journey that we’re still continuing to work on. But we’ve we figured out this really unique solution that allows us to get a creator hired for a campaign within 48 hours or less, and have all of the everything from the hiring to compliance, pretty much fully automated. There are places where people jump in and help out but the majority of it for the most part uses technology and makes super seamless.

Jay Clouse 30:01
So let’s say I come in and I have a budget that I know I know what I’m trying to who I’m trying to reach, how quickly do I as the brand get matched, you said within 48 hours?

A.J. Damiano 30:11
So you’ll get matched almost instantaneously with the creators who are going to be a good fit that then we’ll go back to our team, we’ll do a quick approval on it. So it can take up to anywhere between 30 minutes to a day, depending on like, if it’s working hours or not, you’ll get that if you’ve chosen, you’ll get that talentless back to you, you can prove it see the creators who are going to be a good fit. If you want that extra step, if you just want to move forward with the hiring happens, essentially overnight, what will then happen is, we will then go out we’ll the platform will send invites to creators who are a good fit for the campaign. And the creators essentially get to say yes or no to it, they can see up front how much they’re going to make, what they’re going to have to do for the sponsorship. And it’s a super quick process because we have relationships with both the representation of the talent and the space and many, many creators and influencers directly so they get the offers. It’s a quick turnaround time where they essentially say yes or no, once they’ve accepted, the campaign essentially gets filled on a first come first serve basis. But the invites go to the creators who are going to be the best fit first.

Jay Clouse 31:16
Do the creators have some sort of like inventory management on PowerSpike or are they doing that offline in their own way, whatever that looks like to know, like, I have space for this?

A.J. Damiano 31:25
Yeah, they’re typically going to do offline in their own way. Typically, each creator, what we consider like a healthy margin, is having about 25% of your content, no more than 25% of your content being dedicated to sponsorships, anything above that, it starts to become like, you know, it’s just way too much. And even 25% can be a little bit high. But you know, the really interesting thing that we learned as we went around this, and really the problem that we’re solving on the creators, and also just in industry as a whole is there’s about $34 billion in unused sponsorship inventory right now, that creators have that’s just sitting out there, that brands and advertisers don’t work on. And yeah, we like we literally, like broke it down, we did the math on it, and we were like, blown away by this number. Because there’s huge underutilization of this sponsorship inventory on platforms like Instagram, Twitch, YouTube, I mean, really everywhere. And it comes back to the fact that these sponsorships, they just don’t scale when you have to do everything by hand and manually, it doesn’t provide a medium for this type of inventory to be completely fulfilled. So our thought process is like, okay, if you can make the process scalable, if you can make it like a traditional media network, there’s going to be more sponsorships, more dollars going into the space. And those fulfillment rates are going to go up and there’s going to be less underutilized inventory.

Jay Clouse 32:52
It’s true in podcasting, too. And it’s a bummer, because like, well, it depends if you do like dynamic ad insertion, you’re fine. But a lot of times, like most people don’t have that type of infrastructure and they put out an episode and didn’t have an ad slot in the mid roll because they didn’t sell anything and this is a wasted opportunity.

A.J. Damiano 33:09

Jay Clouse 33:09
Do you guys look into podcasting at all?

A.J. Damiano 33:11
Yeah, you know, we’re our vision for the company is we want to start on Twitch and gaming eSports. And what we want to do over time is we want to bring this technology to anywhere where people have influence, in anywhere where people are creating content. So if it’s a podcast, if it’s a blog, if it’s, you know, really, you know, a YouTube channel, or it could be like a fitness stream, really, wherever it is, we want to help creators make this a full time career.

Jay Clouse 33:40
What is the requirement look like for a creator to be on a platform?

A.J. Damiano 33:45
Yeah, so anybody can sign up and join. But typically, it’s going to require you to have at least 50 average concurrent viewers to get sponsored. But you can just become part of the network. And if we have opportunities for creators who are on the lower end, we’ll try to make those happen in the future. But we’ve typically found that there is a threshold where somebody is, has an audience that is ready to be monetized by a brand that the challenge is is like if you don’t have the audience Jay, and if you try to bring a brand on too early, it’s gonna come off as inauthentic and you know, a bit too early for the brand. A lot of these creators early on if you have like five followers and you’re just starting off you’re you’re way better served by building up your community and your audience. As I’m sure you know, day then attempting to try and go out and get a sponsor attached to it.

Jay Clouse 34:36
Yeah and having an early campaign that’s unsuccessful isn’t really that helpful either because that brands probably not going to come back.

A.J. Damiano 34:44
Exactly. It burns a relationship in the future for you.

Jay Clouse 34:48
Well, give me just another little bit of insight into the the experience on the creator side. I I’m thinking all day like okay, I got to stream today, I’m always streaming but like how, what does my interaction look like with PowerSpike on a day to day basis as a creator?

A.J. Damiano 35:02
So the great thing is that once you signed up, you’re essentially a part of the network. And whenever we have sponsorships that will make sense for you will essentially send them your way. So the day to day interaction is you don’t really have to interact with PowerSpike on a day to day basis, it’s essentially, once you’re part of the network, you’re a part of it. And when we have an opportunity, we’ll reach out to you. But there are other options that you can do to increase your odds of getting hired for a sponsorship, one of the ways that you can do this is any campaign that we have that comes to our platform, it will actually go live in a marketplace where creators can see these campaigns and they can apply in to be hired in real time. And this is essentially them just like raising their hand and saying, hey, you know, I know that maybe I might not be the perfect fit for this but this is a brand that I’m personally really interested in and I would love to work with. And so just by raising your hand and saying I’m interested, that will increase your chances of getting hired by the brand. The other end of it is that we’ll just send you an invitation whenever we have a campaign that makes sense for you. So if it’s like a brand, like Express, for example, you know, that’s on our platform, we’re looking for males, who are probably 18 to 34, and are interested in fashion. If you’ve listed those things in your profile as things you’re interested in, you can receive an invitation to that campaign. And you’ll be able to see all the things that you need to do up front. So like, you know, wherever, where an express T-shirt, do a clothing stream, where you like, give away some of their clothes on stream. I’m just making this up as I go but.

Jay Clouse 36:30
I’m also impressed because Expresses here in Columbus, Ohio. I’m like, he’s he must know me.

A.J. Damiano 36:33
Yeah, but we’ve worked with them in the past. They’re, they’re awesome. But you know that that’s one example, you’ll see what you get up front for, for what you have to do for that campaign. And then you essentially get to say yes or no and that offers going out to a bunch of different creators and it’s a first come first serve basis. So if you say, yes, you get hired on to the campaign. And then really creators go through the platform like a TaskRabbit, where they get to see everything they need to do. And they get to they get to download their assets, they get to see all the requirements that they need to complete for a campaign. And all they have to do then is just execute the content on stream, they do the live read, they do the sponsorship. And then they submit that content, right that PowerSpike, our systems will approve it, make sure that everything is up to compliance. And as you create that content, it gets checked off from a list. And then once you’ve completed everything you’ll get paid.

Jay Clouse 37:25
Do you have the authority to approve creative or do you have to go back to the brand and get their approval?

A.J. Damiano 37:30
We approve creative on behalf of the brand.

Jay Clouse 37:32
Awesome. Does the creator see the rates in terms of like a CPM? Are they seeing like, in total, here’s like the bounty you’ll get for this?

A.J. Damiano 37:42
Yeah, it’s on a bounty basis, we try to make the sponsorships monthly recurring when we can. So the creator gets some sort of like MRR from it as they and they can grow their business sustainably over time. But depending on the company, it could be just a one time thing. And they’ll be able to see that upfront is like, hey, you’re gonna make $600 or you know, $1,000 here.

Jay Clouse 38:02
This all sounds great. I also know how difficult it is to build a marketplace. So how did you go about building both sides of this?

A.J. Damiano 38:09
Well, we were we were pretty dumb about so I don’t recommend anybody copy this way. But you know, there’s a few different ways to go about building a marketplace. You can do a single player mode where you build a product for one side of the marketplace, you get a bunch of engagement, and then you bring in the other side of the marketplace, that’s probably like the easiest way to do it. We’re just like, no screw that we’re gonna go brute force and just like push it all the way through, I do not recommend anybody do that. But then again, it worked for us so I guess there’s that, right? What we did was we we literally just brute force it, we got demand, we got the supply side hired first where we got a bunch of creators on our network, just initially onboard for the platform signed up and excited about it. And then we rushed, like really quickly to try and get some sponsors and some advertisers to work with them. And it started off with like 20 creators and one sponsor, and then we just sort of like built it up from there. You know, it’s it’s been like, once again, I don’t recommend you do that, because you have it’s exhausting to try and like build both sides at the same time and to have to like go from one side to another. But we were able to do it fast enough where we were still able to get pretty good engagement on the marketplace from both sides and not have any issues when it comes to fulfilling campaigns. The other thing that worked really well for us with this method was that we found that we didn’t really need to have high engagement rates on our marketplace to build a successful company on the supply side. And this was really interesting and unique for us but what we found was that we had an 85% response rate when we’ve reached out to creators for a sponsorship that hadn’t been active on our marketplace for like more than six months, essentially what we found was that we just needed to have them as a part of the, I guess the word would be like the inventory. And whenever we had a sponsorship for them, that made sense, we could just ping them and they would reengage essentially, almost immediately. So that definitely worked to our advantage as well with the brute force method, which might not be the case in other marketplaces.

Jay Clouse 40:24
Is your model as a business as simple as just taking a percentage of a successful campaign or what how’s that work for you guys?

A.J. Damiano 40:33
Yeah, so the way we’ve built our model is we want to try to make it as creator friendly as possible. And the way that we’ve engineered this is the creators will always make their fair market rate within PowerSpike. So whether you’re going through PowerSpike, or whether you’re going through an agent, you’re going to receive, effectively the same rate that you would receive no matter which way you’re going for whatever your content is valued at whatever it’s worth. And that’s calculated based upon your viewership level, how many followers you have, what your reach is, and how many people you’re going to this is going to go out to. So the creator is always going to make their fair market price on PowerSpike. And what we do is we’ve engineered our model around the brands and advertisers. So it’s typically a campaign fee that we have on top of whatever the base campaign budget is, that we’re taking out of it. And then, in addition to that, there’s other service lines that we offer to brands and agencies, such as SAS services, where you can get like campaign campaigns aggregated. So if you’re an agency, and you gotta have like multiple campaigns running at a time, there’s a subscription fee that you can pay to have all those campaigns and their data aggregated in one place. And then we also offer like one time add ons on campaigns, such as like, you know, $400, for advanced data and analytics and sentiment analysis.

Jay Clouse 41:48
So for like the long term health and success in the marketplace, I could, I could see how somebody starting this business might think like, I’ll be successful by getting just the top streamers on this platform. But I could also see like, maybe the actual play is just volume of inventory for more than mid tier folks who don’t get the inbound from brands, what does that actually shake out to be who, who is best for a platform like this?

A.J. Damiano 42:15
You know, it’s a really good question. And a lot of it comes down to, surprisingly, a lot more of it comes down to the state and timing of the industry in the market itself. Our initial hypothesis and thesis on this was that we want to get a lot of smaller creators aggregated into one platform and activate a lot of them at once, and brands are going to love that. But what we found over time was that they don’t, at least not yet. Over time, we’ve been able to work with smaller and smaller creators. But the challenge is, is that we’re living in a time where Twitch is still very nascent. And brands are still very early to get involved in the space. And a lot of times for Fortune 500 company or a brand, they don’t want to work with a smaller creator, yet, they’re just not comfortable enough to do that. On Instagram, sure, you know, Instagrams pretty well developed. And there’s a lot of brands that are willing to work with micro influencers, who are top tier brands and do that at scale. But for these new types of platforms like Twitch, they’re not quite there. And so what will happen in typically, in any kind of like talent, or you know, in any industry involving involving talent, you have like the top 1%, then you have the 99%. And the top 1%, the short tail are always the people to get sponsored first, it’s where the majority of ad dollars go. And what we found really early on in this industry was that that’s what was happening. We had this massive inventory of like, medium to smaller sized craters, but not a lot of really large craters on our network. And we were losing out on a lot of these brand deals because of that. So one really important strategy that we took early on, was building partnerships with every single person who represents talent, or manages top tier creators in the space. And essentially, the deal was is what we said is, hey, you know, we want to have the largest inventory of talent in the ecosystem, whether it’s a short tail creator, or a long tail creator, and we want to be able to work with everybody, no matter where they’re at, and just provide this massive inventory of talent to any brand or advertiser who wants to get involved in the ecosystem. And so we went, we went to like every major representative of anybody, you know, anybody who represents talent, managers, agents, and we essentially went to like literally every one of them and said, hey, you know, let us be your sales team. Let us go out and, you know, bring you ad deals, you know, it’s free money for you, you don’t have to do any work and you know, your talent will be able to monetize. And for us, we just get extra people that we can sell and have a larger inventory. And everybody was like hell yeah, like let’s go and do that. And so what we’ve been able to do is we’ve literally aggregated this massive inventory of everybody on the short tail. And where we have about one in six of the top creators on are a part of the PowerSpike ecosystem. And what we’ve done over time, as we started to, as the industry is starting to develop, we’re moving down to more mid tier creators and and eventually we’re going to be able to serve as smaller creators in the long term as brands become more comfortable with space.

Jay Clouse 45:21
Do you ever have trouble like, finding available inventory in the timeframe that a sponsor or a brand once?

A.J. Damiano 45:29
Almost never, there’s so much supply and so little demand speaking strictly like in the terms of a marketplace, that we have never had a challenge with getting a campaign fulfilled within that timeframe. The only time I think it’s ever been difficult is if it’s a very, very specific requests, like, you know, it’s got to be like this person in this country, they have to speak this language. And, you know, they have to have these specific interests, and they need to be between like X and Y size, it’s like, okay, we’ll go for it but you know, we might need a little more time.

Jay Clouse 46:06
How big is your team?

A.J. Damiano 46:07
We’re a team of 20 people right now.

Jay Clouse 46:09
It sounds like probably a lot of that is engineering based on some of the stuff you had to automate but how does that break down like, proportionally?

A.J. Damiano 46:15
It is, you know, it’s, it’s really interesting in the early days of Uber, they did dispatch by hand. And many people don’t realize either like that, that’s essentially what we have to do here at PowerSpike where we have to do parts of this product by hand as we continue to automate it. And the way that we’ve broken our team down is we have a operations team, an engineering team, and a sales and marketing team, essentially, like the way it breaks down is almost like a third, a third, a third, where what you have is the sales and marketing team, or going out there getting brands and advertisers on board, they’re working with their community and selling the product, then the operations team is essentially working the services campaigns, you can think of it as like the operations team is the short term play. And the engineering team is long term play, the engineering team is focused on like, hey, how do we take every single step that we have to do by hand manually and automated, and figure out technology and product that we have to build to increase automation and make this super seamless. And what the operations team does, they fill in the gaps, any area where we can’t do it by hand, by technology yet, like, for example, parts of compliance and watching videos, that’s going to take a little bit of time to actually fully automate. And it’s going to require us to look through, like machine learning and actually being able to watch videos and determine did they do the sponsorship or not. So we have a person on our team who will go through and manage compliance right now and do that by hand. And our long term goal is we want to eventually automate everything, it’s going to take time to do that but the great thing is that we have this two kind of levels of service at PowerSpike, you have the fully automated platform where people go through and create their campaigns by hand. And then you have more of this, like white glove, really top tier where we’re managing the campaign on your behalf, service service set. So the operations team gets involved there. And that’s probably will where they’ll transition to in the long term.

Jay Clouse 48:11
Is the sales side, like getting these brands has a lot of outbound?

A.J. Damiano 48:14
Yeah, it’s a lot of outbound. We’re going to do a lot more inbound this year, particularly through like events, and, you know, a bit more probably, like just spending on our own influencers, and like getting, you know, business podcasts involved and things like that. But, you know, we should talk by the way. But, you know, that’s typically what we look at. But a lot of it is like outbound sales, and getting, you know, just reaching out and, you know, getting a bunch of like enterprise level companies to get excited about what we’re doing and the gaming eSports space.

Jay Clouse 48:49
And you’re in New York now, right?

A.J. Damiano 48:50
I am in New York, I’ve recently moved to Connecticut. I’m in like the middle of nowhere in Connecticut. But yeah, I like travel between here in New York City.

Jay Clouse 48:58
I was gonna ask if there’s any geographical advantage for this business anywhere? Like, is there a place that like, if you want to be doing a business like this, you want to be in gaming or eSports? Is there a place for that?

A.J. Damiano 49:09
Yeah, you know, we’ve always been a fully remote team. And the great thing about gaming is that it’s always been like, a fully remote thing to an extent or not always but you know, in the last 20 years, at least, you know, you play online with your friends, Xbox Live PC. And I think that that served us well, especially when COVID hit, we were a remote team before that, and you know, it’s like, okay, just another day in the office, we we’ve already got this down. But what we’ve done is we’ve located the team, I mean, geographically, we’re all over the world. We have people in Russia, people in New Zealand, some people in England, we really do business everywhere. But geographically we have like sections of our team that are located in New York, some people who are located in LA, and there is some definite advantages to being involved in those locations. One, there’s a huge amount of ad agencies in New York City and LA is like the center of media and you know entertainment, so we get to visit a lot of our brands and our clients in person and have a lot of these meetings over coffee which makes a huge difference. Like especially everybody post COVID is like desperate for any kind of human interaction. So you get to like meet somebody in person that shake their hand, like deals get done. This goes for venture capital, this goes for like, you know, everybody wants to see see you in person, even if they say, like, this is the thing I don’t get like people are like, you know, a lot of VCs are like, ah, you know, I love it, I love zoom, I love you know, doing it online. I love you know, I get to meet so many more founders that yeah, but like how many of those people do you actually invest in? How many of those people do you actually like move a deal forward with? If you want to get a deal done, you got to go see somebody in person. I’m a firm believer in that.

Jay Clouse 50:50
I love that. I love that. All right, A.J. if people wanna learn more about PowerSpike, where should they go after the show?

A.J. Damiano 50:55
Absolutely. You can check us out at powerspike.tv or you can reach out to me directly angelo@powerspike.tv or find me on LinkedIn, A.J. Damiano.

Eric Hornung 51:07
Alright, Jay, we just spoke with A.J. from PowerSpike. Awesome name by the way, PowerSpike.

Jay Clouse 51:13
Oh, they met AJ. Oh, yeah.

Eric Hornung 51:14
A.J. PowerSpike reminds me of like a something I’ve never done in volleyball. Just like really knock it out, you know.

Jay Clouse 51:24
It does seem like a move in like the video game version of volleyball where like, you filled up your, your power bar. And this is like, the like, makes it look like the play like, this is gonna be a guaranteed like point power spike. Crowd goes wild because the ground that volleyball games are huge. Anyway, yes. We just spoke with AJ of Powerspike.

Eric Hornung 51:46
So where do you want to start in this debrief? Do you want to, you know, dive back into PowerSpike the name or do you want to go into something a little a little different?

Jay Clouse 51:54
You know, just to call it out. I’m a big fan of this company because it plays in like worlds that I’m close to and feel like I have even more insight into the creator realm and they’re on Twitch now. And that’s a great place to start because advertisers still aren’t taking Twitch as seriously, there’s a ton of opportunity there. But there is a lot of application for PowerSpike in any realm of creators or influencers. So I think there’s a lot of growth possible here, this world of like programmatic advertising, that just Facebook ads defies all kinds of advertisements across creators influencers. That was my biggest takeaway was, what they’re building is intended to be the user experience for the advertiser, like a self serve Facebook ads like platform that connects you to the feeds, and the content of creators who are specifically matched to your brand. Low lift on both sides, saves a lot of time and vetting for the advertiser makes the experience for the creator much easier than wrangling. The sponsorship inquiries that come in and I think that has a lot of legs to it.

Eric Hornung 53:04
I have some just wild Twitch stats here. What do you think the average time spent for viewer is on Twitch?

Jay Clouse 53:12
On a daily basis, weekly basis, monthly basis?

Eric Hornung 53:15
On a daily basis.

Jay Clouse 53:17
I’m going to say it’s going to be something crazy, like four hours.

Eric Hornung 53:20
95 minutes, 95 minutes watching live gaming.

Jay Clouse 53:25
Well, the crazy thing is streamers will spend like eight hours a day streaming.

Eric Hornung 53:30
Right? And so if you have 95 minutes a day, with people focusing on the screen, right, like it’s not like a podcast, it’s kind of happening in the background. It’s audio, you have people focusing both their eyes and ears on what’s happening on that screen. I don’t know if you watch a lot of Twitch streams Jay, I know your friend OG pickle, I follow him. My brother I follow him. I am always dabbling around Twitch, our friend, little Millie who was a Upside intern who’s now working for eFuse, follow her. There are almost zero advertisements on those streamers pages and even the big ones. I feel like it’s more product placement than it is advertisement.

Jay Clouse 54:11
Yeah, I think part of that is like a little bit of culture. Like I think that audience if you’re going to do full on advertisement, you need to be really thoughtful about how you do it. So it isn’t like to overlay like your the banner ad that pops up like you want to tie it into what you’re doing and have it be kind of natural because I feel like the the streaming audience is a little sensitive, just like blatant over the head advertising of things. But I do think there’s a lot more room that a lot of people are taking advantage of. Here’s the interesting thing on Creative Elements, I’ve 10 ad spots per episode, and I did a listener survey this month, and asked ask them like how do you feel about the number of advertisements? It had a scale of I hate the number of advertisements to I really wish there are more advertisements to I’m okay with the number of advertisements and it was like saying 80% said I’m okay with a number of advertisements. I was surprised, like pretty surprised. I think the culture is trending towards, we understand that these creators need to secure the bag and we’re happy for them when they do.

Eric Hornung 55:13
I’m happy for you Jay, for secure in the bag, hope on 20 advertisements on Creative Elements.

Jay Clouse 55:19
Just double up. No, but I think there’s a lot more opportunity for creators to place aligned products and services within their their ecosystem. But it is a time suck to wrangle those advertisements. So if I’m a creator, and I’m allowed to share some like information about my audience, and the types of products that are interesting to me, I just get a phone, a phone call or an email in my inbox saying like, hey, here’s some advertising opportunities for you. Here’s the copy, here’s what you need to do. And I can just deliver that. And then I get paid through this marketplace. That’s incredible. Especially because there’s no obligation. Like I can say, nope, not a fit, say no, and on with my day. And for the advertiser, there’s like not a huge risk of losing relationship capital, when you go through a marketplace, either. You don’t feel like well, if I say no to this advertiser, they’ll never come back. Because it’s kind of going through this middleman. Where there’s no, there’s some protection from that. So yeah, I think it’s I think it’s really great. It’s a win win for everybody involved. It’s easy to enroll new creators on to PowerSpike, A.J. said, because this is kind of like a no brainer, why not? Why not share my available inventory for consideration with this marketplace with these advertisers?

Eric Hornung 56:39
I wonder if there’s like a collaboration out there between our friends, Moxie, who are on the podcast, and PowerSpike where you can create, you mentioned like banner ads wouldn’t really work. But I’m thinking about the NFL and the NFL found a way to get more advertisements into an NFL game without cutting the commercial. They have that kind of side by side. You know what I’m talking about? Games still going on in the background.

Jay Clouse 57:01
Progressive, state progressive I think?

Eric Hornung 57:05
Mayfield won. Maybe it’s both

Jay Clouse 57:06
Oh, it’s both it is both I was thinking about Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers.

Eric Hornung 57:10
So it pops up and it’s a little kind of micro advertisement while the game is happening. But there’s some dead zone that feels like something that could be easily translatable over to the live streaming space during a loading screen.

Jay Clouse 57:21
Yeah, and when I say that there, there probably wouldn’t be like banner ads. I’m speaking to like a style of banner ad more so than the idea of like, there won’t be on screen graphics. I think there can be on screen graphics that are interesting. The crazy thing about video these days, this is something I’ve heard from a lot of YouTubers is to keep people engaged, you have to change the shot, every five seconds. Every five seconds, you have to change the way the screen is being shown. So in streaming, if you’re streaming for eight hours, maybe not every five seconds, but it’s like pretty frequent. And on screen graphics are a big part of that to just like, keep you paying attention.

Eric Hornung 58:03

Jay Clouse 58:03
So I think there’s a lot of opportunity there.

Eric Hornung 58:05
So let me tell you about a time I was wrong, Jay.

Jay Clouse 58:07
I’d love to hear that.

Eric Hornung 58:09
When Facebook gaming launched, I thought that they were just going to eat away market share, I thought they were gonna over invest in everything, pull everything off. I actually watched a bunch of streamers on there just to figure out kind of how it was working. The user interface felt so much more attainable to the 90% of people who aren’t currently watching video games online. The comments sections were flying even for people who had lower viewers, people who had lower viewers, we’re still seeing like, active viewers of 20, 30, 40 people as opposed on Twitch. I feel like there’s a lot of accounts that see 2, 3, 4 at a time. And still, despite all of that. I said, I’m gonna go Facebook gaming. Still, despite all of that, Twitch still has 70% of eSports viewing. This feels like the right platform to be on.

Jay Clouse 58:55
Yeah, I’m sure a lot of that is like, you know that the upper end of who’s driving the most views because like you said, like a lot of Twitch streamers will see a handful of concurrent viewers at any given time. But then the biggest Twitch viewers have like the lion’s share of all viewers, I spoke with our friend OG Pickle on Creative Elements. And he was mentioning that the pie for number of viewers on Twitch didn’t seem like it was growing much. So to get more viewers to your stream was kind of like you had to borrow or steal them from someone else’s stream. That was something that most people don’t talk about. So I think like the lion’s share is driven by these big streamers, which is probably like really feeding into that market dominance. Whereas maybe if Facebook showing these younger streamers, like we can get you 4 or 5x number of concurrent viewers that you’re used to. That can still kind of bubble up,

Eric Hornung 59:46
potentially and you still have YouTube out there too, but it feels to me for PowerSpike on their behalf. Your streamers are starting on Twitch, and it doesn’t feel like they’re really moving to Facebook or YouTube for my perspective and maybe maybe there is a shift and I’m just early and not wrong Jay and I’ll hold out for that hope I will hold out for not being wrong but I think I’m wrong.

Jay Clouse 1:00:09
Well, and the question becomes like, do existing streamers need to move or will there be more streamers that start on Facebook? Or will you stream simultaneously to Twitch and Facebook and Mixer?

Eric Hornung 1:00:21
I think Mixer is dead.

Jay Clouse 1:00:23
Does Mixer dead?

Eric Hornung 1:00:24
Mixer’s dead.

Jay Clouse 1:00:24
I’ve never seen Mixer. I’ve heard you mentioned Mixer before. And I throw it in here as a nod to you but I don’t know anything about Mixer. It’s dead?

Eric Hornung 1:00:29
Yeah, I think Ninja move from Twitch to Mixer in like six months later, Microsoft said, no I think we’re done with that.

Jay Clouse 1:00:39
Ouch. I want to talk about A.J. as a founder real quick, because he also seems like he’s really well suited for this business, he started off, streaming himself in World of Warcraft then became a caster, meaning that he was like a broadcaster for World of Warcraft tournaments and things. He’s been in this world for a really long time. And he’s built a lot of relationships. And I think that is like the moat for a marketplace like this is relationships and getting people on the platform. Of course, if there was like a PowerSpike competitor, and I’m a creator, I’m probably going to sign up for both. And I’m gonna say, sure, like, my inventory is open for consideration. Send me what you have and I’ll do that many times over. But in the beginning like this, I do think that’s a big moat, because advertisers are going to go, if they’re going to go into this space, they’re going to go with the biggest player. And that’s going to self perpetuate, as more advertisers finally do go into the space, so he knows his base, he has relationships. I think that’s a big plus for our friend, A.J. Damiano.

Eric Hornung 1:01:40
Starting on second base, Jay. We love when a founder is starting on second base sounds like A.J. is. So I’m not gonna answer our last question today, because I wasn’t in the interview. I just want to hear your thoughts. What do you want to see in the next 6 to 18 months from PowerSpike and our friend A.J?

Jay Clouse 1:01:57
I want to see that the budget advertisers are putting aside for eSports is growing like I want to see streaming as a part of their budget increasing to know that this is where the puck is going. And I really can’t, I can’t imagine a world where it doesn’t so I want to see that. I want to see, I’d like to see like the number of campaigns that are being run not even necessarily the top line budget of the campaigns that are being run growing, but honestly like the number of campaigns increasing. But again, I don’t see a world where that’s not going to be the case. So I’m really bullish on the future of PowerSpike. And I’m excited to watch to see what happens.

Eric Hornung 1:02:39
Awesome. Well, if you are also bullish on the future of PowerSpike, you can hit us up on Twitter @upsidefm, or send us something a little longer at hello@upside.fm. And we will talk to you next week.

Jay Clouse 1:02:52
That’s all for this week. Thanks for listening. We’d love to hear what you think about this episode. So tweeted us @upsidefm or email us hello@upside.fm and let us know. You can learn more about us and browse our entire back catalogue of episodes at upside.fm and if you love our show, please leave a review on Apple podcasts that goes a long way in helping us bring high quality guests to the show.

Interview Begins: 8:51
Debrief Begins: 51:07

A.J. Damiano is the co-founder and CEO of Powerspike.
Powerspike is the easiest way to sponsor influencers in the esports & gaming space. Powerspike helps you create campaigns, connect with Twitch influencers and teams at scale, without all the busy work – making it simple to advertise on Twitch.
Their platform merges influencer marketing with programmatic advertising, enabling brands to create an influencer campaign just like they’d make a media buy.
The process takes 4 minutes or less, and saves the average brand over 150+ hours of work.
There’s no negotiating, no having to tediously search through lists of thousands of influencers, and most importantly, no heavy lifting. Simply tell PowerSpike what you want, and it delivers results.

We discuss:

  • Twitch back in 2014 12:35
  • Getting Brand Sponsorships 20:21
  • Pitch Model Pre Techstars 22:25
  • Pitch in Today’s time 23:10
  • Brand Safety 26:39
  • Creator’s Inventory Management 30:18
  • How to be on Powerspike 33:40
  • Creator’s on Powerspike 34:48
  • Building the Marketplace 38:02
  • Powerspike’s Business Model 40:24
  • Best for Powerspike 41:48
  • Foodnerd was founded in 2015 and based in New York City.

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