Cricketer Yuvraj Singh’s YouWeCan Ventures and digital agency AdLift partnered to set up a platform to connect celebrities with brands on social media, christened Yral (pronounced viral), in January 2016.It kicked off with campaigns during the T20 Cricket World Cup and this year’s IPL season.
Speaking with Campaign India in June, Singh revealed that platform had 15 employees on board.
Prashant Puri, CEO and co-founder, AdLift, added that ’15 to 20’ celebrities are on board, with a majority – as one would expect – being cricketers.
Cricketers like Virender Sehwag, Shikhar Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj himself engaged followers for brands such as HDFC and Oppo Mobile in the campaigns during the peak cricket season.
Explaining the venture, Puri said, “The idea was to reach out to celebrities who have more than a million followers on social media and connect them to brands for the right fit. I think this is YouWeCan’s first B2B venture on the digital marketing platform. Yuvraj brings his expertise on the table. With him being a celebrity and active on social media, tying up with a digital media agency made a lot of sense. It’s not only about adding celebrity value and a face to the venture, but also providing support since he knows how the endorsement ecosystem works.”
He added, “Social media is normally an afterthought for brands. They work on a campaign and extend that tie-up to social media. We are now connecting the right brand to the right celebrity.”
On the monetisation, Puri said, “Monetisation is a variable (from campaign to campaign). Yral charges an ‘x’ amount for creatives for the brand. And then depending on what work the celebrity needs to do, we work on a commission.”
Yuvraj revealed that he was introduced to Puri and AdLift by Nishant Singhal, founder and chief investment officer, YouWeCan Ventures. Conversations on digital media followed – on monitoring social media and working with celebrities and brands to help them get the best of each other.
He added, “Digital is the space the world is moving towards now. I had a lot of social media stuff to be managed. I wanted to partner with someone who could excel in the digital space.”
“It’s about getting the right messages out there to the people,” added the cricketer.
Yuvraj Singh, part of this year’s IPL winner SunRisers Hyderabad, took to Twitter in 2009, and has over 4 million followers today. Asked how he uses the medium, he said, “I promote everything with a good cause. It’s not only my own brands but brands that have the potential to do good and go to a different level.”
YouWeCan Foundation is actively involved in cancer care, and has its roots in Yuvraj Singh being a survivor of the disease. Detected in 2011, he was back on the cricket field the next year, post treatment. The Foundation works to create awareness, set up detection centres and also conducts rehabilitation programmes.
Meanwhile, YouWeCan Ventures has already invested in 11 start-ups. The diverse portfolio includes healthcare enabler Healthians.com, education marketplace Edukart.com, apps Moovo (beauty services) and Vyomo (cargo logistics), JetSetGo (online marketplace for private jet and helicopter charter flights), automotive servie marketplace Cartisan, sports equipment and merchandise outfit Sports365 (with tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi), pre-schooler multi-sport programme Sporty Beans, brand licensing start-up Black White Orange Brands, and Cybiz BrightStar Restaurants, the master franchisee of Carl’s Jr. in India.
Singh is now looking at consolidation. He explained, “We were pretty aggressive at the time we announced the venture. For now it is about consolidating these. It’s about being smart about the future investments.”
He added, “I’d like to invest in streams like health, sport, education, which in turns ends up helping the community and betterment of society.”