Hacked Tik Tok and Instagram: Almaty entrepreneur launches startup empowering bloggers to boost earnings on their videos
Aigerim Beisembina started blogging while working at a Berlin startup as an account manager responsible for influencer communication in brand campaigns. Simultaneously, she posted videos on social networks but struggled with promoting and monetizing them.
“The idea to create a startup that helps bloggers secure brand contracts and earn from their videos came to me,” says Aigerim. She returned to Kazakhstan and launched Behype—an application for creating viral challenges in social networks for advertising campaigns with the help of creators. In an interview for the joint project of Digital Business and Astana Hub “100 Startups of Kazakhstan,” Aigerim shared insights on how she attracted bloggers with substantial audiences, her successful partnerships with Jusan Bank, KFC, and other brands, and her decision to avoid seeking investments during the three years of running her startup.
“100 Startup Stories of Kazakhstan” is the joint project of Digital Business and Astana Hub. The project showcases the inspiring journeys of Kazakhstani entrepreneurs and Astana Hub participants from various countries who are revolutionizing the tech industry with their innovative products and services. We believe that one of them will eventually rise to the status of a Unicorn company, thereby elevating Kazakhstan’s reputation in the global IT market. Through this endeavor, we hope to ignite the spirit of entrepreneurship within readers and encourage them to establish their own daring and creative startups.
The project is available in three languages – Kazakh, Russian, and English, and is absolutely free for our heroes. If you are interested in being a part of this inspiring initiative, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
«My husband sold the car when we ran out of money»
– Why did you choose Kazakhstan as the location to launch your startup instead of Germany?
– The decision to launch our startup in Kazakhstan was influenced by several factors. Firstly, our country boasts a pool of talented young individuals who deserve support to showcase their abilities. Secondly, I observed successful examples of similar products in various European countries.
Thirdly, the cost-effectiveness of starting a business here played a crucial role in my choice. Given the limitations in my finances, Kazakhstan provided an ideal and affordable starting point for my venture.
– What was the initial investment required to launch Behype?
– In total, I invested approximately USD 120 thousand. However, during the first two years, we faced challenges as I lacked an IT background, leading to several mistakes.
The main error was attempting to create a perfect product right from the start that would please both bloggers and brands. We invested significant effort into implementing various features and multiple subscription options. But everyone advised us to start without overthinking.
Only in the third year did I realize the value of this advice. I noticed that despite constant efforts, we weren’t achieving significant results. I took a three-month break to reassess our direction. We decided to simplify the functionality for bloggers and launch with a minimalistic approach.
– Did you receive any financial assistance, or did you solely invest your own money?
– My parents supported me, even though they had little understanding of what I was doing. Despite facing difficult times, they never tried to dissuade me from pursuing my startup idea; instead, they offered their help. My father became a business angel for Behype, investing his savings and securing a loan with his private enterprise. Alongside financial support, he provided valuable moral encouragement. My dad has always been a role model for me, embodying the right values.
When we depleted our family funds and the application needed some improvement, my husband suggested selling the car. He recognized the significance of this project to me and willingly made the sacrifice.
– What was the result of your efforts?
– In simple terms, Behype is an application where creators facilitate advertising for brands on social networks, primarily TikTok and Instagram. For instance, if a company wants to promote a product, they place an order in the app, specifying the type of video they need for a particular theme. Interested bloggers then participate in the challenge, earning on views.
When numerous reels with the same hashtag are published over several days, TikTok and Instagram algorithms identify it as a viral topic and feature it in trends. This results in organic reach to the target audience, as social networks recommend content based on user preferences.
Additionally, we offer brands analytics through technical integration with TikTok and Instagram. Bloggers include a link to their video in the app, allowing us to track outreach, likes, comments, and audience demographics like geography and age. The data is transparent and reliable.
«When we introduced our challenge, we achieved 16 thousand downloads and successfully attracted 600 new creators»
– After launching the app, how did you go about assembling your team of creators?
– There were several approaches. Initially, I created a humorous TikTok video, but it didn’t go viral. Then I attended a bloggers’ conference, where I approached some individuals, introduced myself, and invited them to register in the app. However, the conversion rate wasn’t significant.
So, I decided to try a different strategy. I compiled a list of Kazakhstan bloggers and started sending them messages. Out of 100 bloggers, I received responses from 10. I had conversations with them, explaining our plans, and managed to attract 50 creators within a month.
– How did you entice or persuade them to join?
– To be honest, I attracted them with promises. My main focus was on the opportunity for them to monetize their brand-sponsored reels. Additionally, they would gain a broader audience and increased views, as they collaborated in creating challenges and hacking the algorithms of TikTok and Instagram. However, I made it clear that they would need to wait for results.
I am immensely grateful to these individuals for putting their faith in us. We received support from bloggers with relatively small reach as well as those with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers.
– So was your next step engaging with brands?
– When we had around 70 creators registered on Behype, I realized it was time to approach brands. The challenge was that I didn’t have many connections, having not lived in Kazakhstan for long. My emails to various companies’ marketing directors went unanswered. So, I decided to attend events to network with the right people.
Last September, at the Digital Bridge event in Astana, there was a panel session on promoting brands on TikTok, and the speaker was the CMO of Jusan Bank. Despite my fear, I gathered courage and scheduled a meeting with him. I proposed promoting one of their mobile app campaigns, and it went exceptionally well, garnering over 1 million views within days.
Following that, we launched our own challenge where bloggers shared their earnings with us. The video became so viral that we gained 16 thousand downloads and attracted 600 new creators.
Currently, we have over 2 thousand creators, with 800 having audiences ranging from 50 thousand to 6 million, while others have smaller followings.
– Did the success and viral impact of your challenge make it easier to communicate with larger companies?
– Not particularly. We still seemed like a vague story to most brands. However, we were fortunate that one of our team members had a contact in the management of KFC. They arranged a meeting for us, and within a week, we agreed on a partnership and launched a challenge together.
Once we had two successful cases, brands started showing more interest in communicating with us. Banks like Forte Bank and Bank RBK, FMCG companies, and others began reaching out to us. Currently, we are collaborating with 15 global and local brands.
«Certain bloggers are earning between 400,000 to 600,000 tenge per month»
– How do you distinguish yourselves from advertising agencies that can provide similar services?
– Our main KPI is views. Depending on the budget, we typically guarantee at least 1 million views, but often, we surpass this target. For instance, our Dirol challenge aimed to reach 4 million views but achieved 14 million views in just 4 days. These numbers represent organic reach, with approximately 95% of our videos making it to user recommendations.
Speed is one of our strengths. We can develop a brand idea within a couple of days, involve bloggers, and launch the challenge promptly. Creators are eager to create and share their reels on TikTok and Instagram as quickly as possible, as it allows them to earn more, as we pay them based on views.
– What does the mechanics of the challenge entail?
– Upon launching a challenge, bloggers receive a notification detailing the required actions and terms. We have developed a mathematical algorithm that utilizes the budget to determine the number of creators with specific audience sizes needed to achieve the KPI. The algorithm also establishes the price per view.
– How much do creators typically earn through Behype?
– The earnings depend on their level of activity. In one case, a creator earned 125 thousand tenge for a single challenge. Some creators make between 400 to 600 thousand tenge per month. Notably, some of them are bloggers from regions such as Aktau, Aktobe, Semey, and others.
– How do you monetize your platform?
– We generate revenue by taking a certain percentage from the advertising budget. While I cannot disclose specific numbers, I can mention that our earnings are sufficient to cover the costs for a team of 10 members.
«When you secure funding during the early stages and operate solely within Kazakhstan, you cannot expect a high valuation»
– As you mentioned earlier, you considered Kazakhstan as a starting point. What are your future plans for expansion?
– We are currently interested in expanding to the MENA region. Recently, I attended a marketing conference in Dubai, where I had the opportunity to converse with representatives from the local advertising industry. I am confident that they are intrigued by our product.
As we plan to enter this new market, we are considering the most suitable business model to adopt. The dynamics are different compared to Kazakhstan. Bloggers there are accustomed to higher earnings, making it challenging to reach agreements. Additionally, the pricing policy for advertising campaigns is substantially higher—almost twice as expensive. Nevertheless, we are hopeful and determined to succeed in hacking that market.
– Given the considerable costs associated with expanding to the MENA region, do you have plans to seek investment opportunities?
–We believe we can manage the expansion with our own funds. The crucial aspect is to attract several successful cases, just as we did in Kazakhstan, and let the marketing buzz work its magic.
We have already engaged in discussions with representatives from Azadea, who own over 50 international retailer brands (like Zara and Adidas) in Arabic countries. They have expressed interest in collaborating with us and want to launch challenges in other MENA countries, such as Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and more. Hence, we are currently preparing to test several hypotheses in this region.
– What is the reason behind your decision not to raise a funding round? It would be more straightforward to establish a foothold in the new market with additional financial support.
– I agree. However, I want to challenge myself and see if I can accomplish it on my own.
It’s also essential to acknowledge that when you secure funding at the early stages while operating solely in Kazakhstan, the valuation may not be very high. However, if we can demonstrate even minimum traction in the UAE, the situation changes.
I am not opposed to investments, but I believe that when seeking funding, there should be a clear understanding of why it is needed and where it will be invested. At present, I don’t see an urgent need for additional funding.
If we decide to pursue rapid market expansion, we will reconsider attracting investments. Furthermore, I maintain connections with funds and investors.
– Have you considered starting your international expansion in more affordable markets, such as Central Asia?
– Indeed, we have considered expanding to more affordable markets in Central Asia. Certain brands’ representations in Almaty handle promotions for the entire region, and we already have creators from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan eagerly awaiting our entry into their markets.
However, our current main focus is on the MENA region, where we see numerous opportunities. Although it is a more complex market, it is larger and wealthier. Furthermore, we have the advantage of not facing competitors in our niche there. Therefore, it is crucial not to miss this opportunity.
– Are you concerned that this might lead to a drop in Kazakhstan?
– I understand that I will need to reside outside of Kazakhstan for a period. In MENA countries, businesses prefer face-to-face negotiations for potential collaborations. There was a particular instance where representatives of a company disregarded the suggestion of a Zoom call but readily agreed to meet when I was in Dubai. Therefore, I will need to shift my focus to that region.
Nevertheless, I have complete faith in my team. They are all highly skilled and independent professionals, and I am gradually delegating my responsibilities to them in Kazakhstan. For instance, our CFO handles communication with brands. So, I am confident about the local market, and I believe everything will be alright.
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