Cloutdesk: Building Open Infrastructure for Influencer Marketing

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woman using her phone for influencer marketing on the Cloutdesk app

Overview

Launched in early 2021 as an application to help creators more effectively monetize and manage brand partnerships, Cloutdesk, an open infrastructure for influencer marketing, has since evolved into the first 100% transparent end-to-end technology stack for both creators and their marketing clients. 

Today, the platform includes tools for creator/brand outreach, relationship management, content approval, contract negotiation, invoicing, reporting, and payments. The platform helps marketers  activate proprietary influencer networks, while giving creators automation capabilities that help them exceed client expectations and create partnerships. Cloutdesk’s mission is to enable a world with more meaningful, accountable, and equitable relationships between creators, marketers and brands. 

Founder of Cloutdesk, Trevor Mengel

Trevor is the founder and CEO of Cloutdesk, a startup building the first decentralized infrastructure for creator marketing. He spent the first half of his career as an early employee and global team lead at two growth stage advertising technology companies, PubMatic and Criteo, both of which went on to IPO. In 2015, he joined Horizon Media, where he developed programmatic advertising solutions for Fortune 500 brands, including Burger King, CapitalOne, Hyundai, LG, and Geico. Most recently, Trevor was the Chief Business Officer for ecommerce live streaming  solution, Stage Ten.

Additionally, Trevor is a North American Case Research Journal published author who appeared in stories by Digiday, Adexchanger, and Betakit. He has been a featured speaker at events hosted by Advertising Week and the Mobile Marketing Association and more.

Trevor started Cloutdesk to help solve many challenges faced by his spouse, professional creator Samantha Cutler. Samantha is the co-founder of Cloutdesk. When not helping run this business with Trevor, she is a full-time, professional creator under the name @thefitfatale. In 2015 Sam quit her full-time marketing role with Canada’s largest luxury retailer to fulfill her goal of being a creator. After growing her community, nurturing relationships with brands and developing a reputation for quality content, she quickly reached and then surpassed the income she was making in her former day-job – all through brand partnerships. She now has over 140,000 followers on Instagram and TikTok.  

The two plan to get married in May and currently split time between Toronto, New York City, and Miami with their chihuahua, Moka.

Cloutdesk’s Proprietary Technology 

Compared to other influencer marketing solutions, Cloutdesk has significantly lower fees and provides 100% transparency on all brand-creator transactions. This is made possible through a minimally-extractive business model. Cloutdesk seeks to fulfill its mission by maximizing the value returned back to creators and marketers, while minimizing the value it extracts as a platform. 

Cloutdesk has developed an advanced contract composition technology, containing more than 100 negotiable deal parameters, which is capable of producing over 10 million variations of the contracts exchanged between creators and brands. Using the data from these “programmatic contracts,” Cloutdesk automates dozens of common back office responsibilities like status tracking, invoicing, task deadlines, and reminders.

Building a Tool for Marketers

The creator marketing ecosystem is still in the “wild west” phase of development. The space is highly fragmented, lacking standardization and transparency. There are hundreds of “black-box” solutions for marketers that hide excessive take rates, estimated to be as high as 50% in many cases.

As the spouse of a professional creator and former agency executive, Trevor understood the industry’s challenges firsthand. After releasing an application that helps creators organize and manage their brand deals, his team realized that offering a tool to solve the problems of one side of the market was not enough. 

In December of 2021, the team started building Cloutdesk for Marketers to help solve key problems that continued to plague the market.

Firstly, he observed that existing influencer marketing platforms were not valuing creators’ time. When creators sign up for most influencer marketplaces, they are spammed with enticing emails offering partnership opportunities, only to later be compelled into offering creative concepts and execution strategies that rarely resulted in actual business. 

Secondly, Trevor and team saw existing solutions fall into two distinct categories. The first, managed service marketplaces, sought to replace the role of marketing agencies and PR firms and capitalize on knowledge gaps with creators. The second, self-service SaaS tools charged marketers exorbitantly high monthly fees, while offering features that were largely undifferentiated and did not account for one of the most complex pieces of the influencer partnership process – contracting. 

Deliver better results

By delivering Cloutdesk for Marketers, which launched in September of this year, the Cloutdesk team was able to introduce the first solution that combines the flexibility and transparency of custom-negotiated influencer partnerships with the scalability required to activate hundreds of creators at any given time. This “sweet spot” enables marketers to partner with more niche creators and deliver better results to brands while utilizing significantly fewer resources.

With Cloutdesk, neither brands nor creators need to compromise on creative partnerships – it’s a win-win.

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