More Than An Influencer: Turning a Community Into A Company with Deepica Mutyala
Launching a business off the success of a community and what other entrepreneurs can do to succeed online, in fundraising, and in the community
Influencers play a huge role in business today. They can take a product or an entire brand from unknown to a trending topic and a booming business with millions of dollars worth of sales. And, sometimes, influencers can leverage their community to even create a business of their own. That’s what Deepica Mutyala did when she launched LIVE TINTED.
“I never grew up saying I wanted to be an influencer or even be famous, but I did grow up saying I wanted to be a CEO and run my own business,” Mutyala said. “And so, when you fall into something like this, it’s very weird. But I think what got me through the years where I was just an influencer and didn’t have the business side of it was, the end goal was the same. I wanted to change the face of representation for people who look like me, period. So whether that’s in the media, or through my own beauty brand, the net goal was the same, and it still is the same.”
Mutyala obviously wasn’t born an influencer, though. Nobody is. And before she had any kind of online notoriety, she was a young ambitious intrapreneur trying to learn the ways of business at one of the hottest start-ups at the time.
“I worked at Birchbox, and in true startup culture, you can create opportunities for yourself at a startup,” Mutyala said. “And so, I made it very clear to the founders that I wanted to one day create my own beauty brand, and they gave me opportunities in the company to do that.”
With the blessings and encouragement of her bosses, Mutyala started creating beauty videos on her YouTube channel. She always wanted to bring more diversity to the world of makeup and beauty, and she wanted to highlight the challenges and bring solutions to the darker-skinned community.
One day, one of her videos went viral, and a few million views later, Mutyala found herself on the set of the Today Show about to do a beauty tutorial. That very day she quit her job at Birchbox and decided to go all-in on herself and her idea of bringing diversity to this community.
She was very successful as an influencer, and was featured in a number of high-profile campaigns. But Mutyala was unsatisfied with the situation she found herself in.
“There shouldn’t just be one of me,” she said. “There is not just one white girl on the campaign, why shouldn’t there be more brown girls in the campaign, more black girls in the campaign? That experience as an influencer is what led me to launching LIVE TINTED as a community platform prior to launching the actual product itself. I didn’t plan for that, again, being a community brand wasn’t a thing growing up either, but it was lived in experience that truly inspired the idea that, before this launches with a physical product, let’s create this united community where they dictate our future decisions.”
When Mutyala launched LIVE TINTED, she initially just wanted to build a community. But as more and more people joined the fold, and they talked openly about their problems and needs, Mutyala knew she could launch a product line for them and scale from there.
She announced a product, built up a waiting list thousands of names long, and has found herself once again being featured in all manner of outlets — but this time her products and the rest of the community she built were being featured as well. That’s one of the things that Mutyala is most proud of.
“Something people forget is influencers have always existed, they were just called celebrities before,” she said. “The definition is evolving and changing, and it’s going to continue to evolve and change. If you have a platform and an audience, you are an influencer, you have an influence of some sort. And I think it’s actually a really powerful thing, if you think about it, because it makes you realize, anyone can be an influencer, and it makes people empowered to use their voice. But the part that I get really excited about is this creative community, and how we can work with them.”
To hear more from Mutyala, check out her full interview on Up Next in Commerce.
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