Dennis Doerfl and Daniel Troesch met while working for Groupon in Switzerland, traveling all over the world managing the company’s international projects. Through that business relationship, the two found themselves in Lincoln, Nebraska launching their own influencer marketing company, Fourstarzz Media.
Doerfl, a former University of Nebraska at Lincoln student, felt that the Lincoln startup community would be a natural fit as the home of Fourstarzz.
“We are a global company operating out of Lincoln, Nebraska. We’ve got business all over the world and partners all over the world, but we consider the center of our universe to be Lincoln,” said Doerfl.
How Fourstarzz works
Fourstarzz is the first aggregator in the influencer marketing services space. They serve global markets out of the Silicon Prairie, offering platform access and managed influencer campaign services to their clients.
They have a vision to boost social evolution by enabling their customers to create effective social conversations around their brands.
In February 2016, they started developing their technology with Don’t Panic Labs. They launched the first version of their company in September and immediately onboarded their first influencer partner network in the United States, followed by their first European partner a month later.
“We’re the first global aggregator of networks allowing brands and agencies to search for bloggers, YouTubers, Snapchatters, Facebookers, Twitterers, Instagramers, Twitch gamers, and Micro-Influencers on our platform, and then be redirected to agencies like Opendorse to fulfill those needs of the marketing company,” explained Doerfl.
By November 2016, less than a year after the company was founded, they had generated their first revenues with Fortune 500 companies like Groupon, Reebok, Ameritas, Beiersdorf, and Expedia/Hotels.com.
“In a dynamic industry like influencer marketing, there are a lot of new stories and new companies popping up around the globe every day, but we’re the first one that is trying to establish a business as an aggregator,” said Troesch.
The challenges of an international company
Doerfl and Troesch said they chose to start their company in the United States because the country’s influencer marketing industry is ahead of Europe’s.
They want to be a truly global company but that comes with its challenges.
Marketing Fourstarzz internationally can be tough, not only because of how dynamic the company is, but because of the wide variety of cultures they work with.
Everything from languages to currencies can present obvious challenges, but the more subtle challenges of doing business with different cultures are things like contracting, objectives and communication.
“It’s a mix of professional standards and procedures, and cultural needs and specifics, that creates an environment for us that’s not just challenging but exciting,” said Troesch. “Every deal, every new project is a new story.”
Doerfl said that Fourstarzz is in the business of standardizing an industry, but applying a standard goes beyond what can be seen outside their front door. They have to consider the world as a whole and applying a standard that the world accepts is a lot more difficult than establishing a standard that one country would buy into.
What’s next for Fourstarzz
2016 all was about building the product and technology. Now that they have the software, the next step for Fourstarzz is scaling revenues with their technology and managing influencer campaign services and expanding partnerships.
“When we started, we wanted to focus purely on technology, and then we figured we’ve got to be close to the market. A good way to do so is to run managed services next to the technology,” said Doerfl. “Then, we’re in constant contact with the client teams and we get those learnings to improve our technology.”
Fourstarzz has several product features in the pipeline that have come out of those client conversations. Doerfl and Troesch are also planning a big, yet-to-be-revealed technology release for this month.
International scale with Silicon Prairie roots
Throughout all their successes so far, and with everything they have planned in the future, the co-founders of Fourstarzz are still proud to call Lincoln home.
“It’s interesting to go into offices of clients in London or Berlin and they ask you ‘Where are you based?’ and you say, ‘Lincoln, Nebraska,’” said Troesch.
“We always explain the Silicon Prairie story and everyone always finds it pretty exciting what’s going on here.”
Christine McGuigan is the Associate Editor of Silicon Prairie News.