TQ interview: Jolique Möller’s life hasn’t quite turned out the way she expected.

She comes from a family who owns a number of automotive companies, and left home at 16 to go to automotive management school, “destined to take over the family company”.

How, then, did she end up in the world of influencer marketing, as founder and CEO of Influentials? “It all started during my studies, when I spent time on exchange in the United States and blogged about my experiences”, which introduced her first-hand to the blossoming industry of influencer marketing. Excited by the explosion of this sector, Jolique decided to follow her own path, breaking away from automotives by launching ilovefashionbloggers, an online platform, at only 20 years old.In addition to the online platform, Jolique, now 25, started organising offline events like conferences and Q&A sessions for fashion bloggers. It was at this point that brands started to take notice. “They started reaching out to me, saying ‘Hey, you have a big network, you know about the industry, can you help me out with creating a campaign?’”, explains Jolique. However, she soon realised that her idea wasn’t scaleable and the bloggers she was connected with were not honest about their reach, a key component in companies deciding which influencer to collaborate with. Jolique experienced bloggers photoshopping the numbers on their Google Analytics, leading to the brands she partnered with complaining that their websites weren’t attracting anywhere near the expected traffic. Fed up with the issues and observing the changing trends in the field, Jolique came up with the idea for Influentials.
Building a scaleable product

The market was growing and Jolique realised that fashion and blogging – which her first company brought together – were too limited: new social media channels were gaining popularity, and there was an need for a platform that could combine them all. Learning from her previous experiences with bloggers, Jolique explains that “I wanted to create a scaleable product with all the influencers’ channels’ data inhouse – they connect with our API, and our software also incorporates multiple channels”. In the ever-evolving world of social media, new channels can gain popularity overnight, and Influentials has the important ability to shift with the trends and integrate any new platform that may become popular in the next few years. Jolique was keen to avoid the issue she had with ilovefashionbloggers, where her company was threatened by the decrease in popularity of fashion blogging in favour of using Instagram and other channels instead. Now, with Influentials, “it’s not like if tomorrow there’s a new Snapchat, my business is over. That was the thing with ilovefashionbloggers”.

Literally, people were like what they hell are you talking about? Who do you think you are?

Today, Influentials is a startup that creates software to translate social data into analytics and insights which are then used by brands to manage their influencer marketing campaigns. The company is certainly reaping the benefits of the knowledge Jolique gained through her first company. Influentials has offices in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, and the company can already list brands including CoolBlue, the Body Shop and L’Oreal as clients, something Jolique is proud of given her business is less than 2 years old. They haven’t just tried her product – they’ve liked it too: Jolique has already secured a number of repeat subscriptions. This year alone, Jolique has also been featured on The Next 100 Women to Watch list and the Dutch Financial Times’ 50 young entrepreneurial talents of 2017. Even so, she finds it difficult to name her accomplishments: “when you’re an entrepreneur, you never look back, you just look up the big mountain you have to climb, and the only thing I’m thinking is ‘fuck, I’m not even there yet!’”. Even so, she’s proud that she managed to retain her big clients, “because you see that what you do actually works and they want to stay a customer”.

What’s in store

Influentials is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, and Jolique is already considering her next moves in terms of the company’s growth. In the future, her aim is to operate in New York, but as the American market is so different, she’s planning to start closer to home, and hopes to bring Influentials to Berlin, Paris or London soon. Jolique’s ambitious plans for expanding her company are supported by its residency in TQ. “I love that there’s so much knowledge in-house”, she says, and the connections she has made at TQ also helped opened doors for her in Silicon Valley. Before a recent work trip Stateside, she reached out to the TQ community for tips, and ended up spending time with one of the first employees of Instagram. The two are still in contact, exchanging WhatsApps and going for beers to discuss her company. She has also reached out to others within TQ for help validating her MVP and her pitch deck, and finds it “awesome that people really want to help you get to the next level”.

Despite her privileged upbringing and the doors this opened for her, Jolique struggled to be taken seriously at the start of her career as a self-proclaimed “blonde with a fashion blog” who wanted to create her own platform. “Literally, people were like what they hell are you talking about? Who do you think you are?”, she says, rolling her eyes. Now, however, the tables have turned, and her young age plays to Jolique’s advantage. The industry has come to realise that influencer marketing is an integral part of any marketing strategy and with this shift, Influentials has gained importance in the field. Jolique has come to be seen as an authority, and laughs as she says “they call and ask me for help now”.