Cameo, the “coolest thing since TikTok”, can get you a birthday shoutout from your favourite celebrity

Cameo, the “coolest thing since TikTok”, can get you a birthday shoutout from your favourite celebrity
Steven Galanis, Co-founder & CEO and Stefan Heinrich Henriquez, Chief Marketing Officer and GM International of CameoJohan Sathyadas
  • Cameo is a Chicago-based celebrity shoutout platform that brings fans closer to their favorite stars.
  • On their recent trip to India, Stefan Heinrich Henriquez, CMO & GM International, Cameo and Steven Galanis, Co-Founder & CEO, Cameo spoke about their optimism about the Indian market.
  • Currently, Cameo has close to 20,000 celebrities including Hollywood stars, musicians, sportspersons and reality TV stars on its platform.
  • Some of the most popular stars on Cameo include Snoop Dogg, Charlie Sheen, Caitlyn Jenner and Kevin O’Leary, amongst others.
Imagine your most-favorite stars record a personalised video for your birthday, anniversary, or any other special occasion. It is now possible thanks to Cameo, a Chicago-based celebrity-shoutout platform, and it is coming to India.

Founded in 2017 by Steven Galanis, Martin Blencowe and Devon Townsend, Cameo is a platform where users can pay for celebrities to make personalised video messages.

Some of the most popular names on the platform today are Snoop Dogg, Charlie Sheen, Caitlyn Jenner and Kevin O’Leary. That the idea caught up quickly in the US is perhaps clear from the fact that Cameo received a funding of $50 million earlier this year.

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Business Insider caught up with Co-Founder & CEO Steven Galanis, and Chief Marketing Officer and GM International Stefan Heinrich Henriquez to understand why the two think Cameo will do well in India.

Cameo’s story so far

With the advent of social media, fans have come closer to their favorite stars than they ever have been. And it was when Cameo’s Co-founder Blencowe shared a video of a Seattle Seahawks player recording a congratulatory message for his friend who had just become a father with Galanis, that the idea first took shape.
In 2017, Cameo started out with 300 celebrities on board. The number swelled to 4,000 celebrities in 2018. Currently, close to 20,000 celebrities from across the world are a part of the platform.

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The platform is favourite among a wide range of audience from 18 years old to up to 50 in the US, according to Henriquez, a former exec at TikTok and YouTube Red (now YouTube Premium). “Cameo gives users the most personalized fan experience. Celebrities and influencers are always looking for new ways of connecting with their fans. Till now, there hasn’t really been a direct-to-consumer way for celebrities to connect with their followers. So we thought of simplifying the process in which they’re interacting with their fans, while also making the fans happy. That’s how Cameo came into being. The platform really enables people to get someone else’s attention,” he said.

Cameo’s business model is simple

Cameo brings celebrities from different industries on the platform, fans can get in touch with them by simply signing up for the platform and pay for short-video content to be created by them.
75% of what the user pays goes to the celebrities. “When celebrities put up content on Cameo, they get a majority of the cut. It gives people a direct access to their stars. Moreover, the talent on our platform is getting a new way to monetize their content while talking to their fans, which wasn’t really possible before,” Henriquez explained.

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India: The opportunities and challenges

New-age platforms like YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok have witnessed massive growth in India in the past few years which makes the Cameo team confident that it will see a good uptake in India.
On what kind of opportunities the Indian market presents to them, Henriquez says, “I have been a part of both YouTube and TikTok and have witnessed how the platforms have grown in India. I am fascinated by the country. It is really diverse and almost like a continent in itself, rather than a country. People are crazy about their stars and there is a huge opportunity to connect and we are really excited about expanding to India.”

While India presents a lot of opportunities for growth, it could also be a daunting market to crack. Elaborates Henriquez, “India is a complex market. It has so many different cultures and languages. A one-size-fits-all approach cannot work here. That way, India is similar to Europe because it has different languages, customs and sub-cultures. Even the music styles and preferences of different places are different. So we have realized that it’s key to connect with local stars. We’ll not only partner with the English-speaking people but also look at localizing our offering.”

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While Galanis agrees that cracking the language code would be critical for them, he says he’s looking at it more as an opportunity rather than a roadblock. “On our recent trip to Japan, we realised there are huge cultural differences between markets. Our aim on this visit is to learn who are the people Indians want to see on the platform. Secondly, there are a lot of different sub-cultures and languages here and getting that right will be key. In the US, Cameo is looked as the coolest new tech company to come out since TikTok and we want to ensure it has the same momentum when we enter India. It is also important to enter the market at the correct price points and we will make those changes according to the market here,” shares Galanis.

Play iconA circle surrounding a triangle pointing right. It indicates, "this type of media can be played."Cameo is currently working on its strategy to enter the Indian market
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The vision for Cameo

Talking about where he wants to see Cameo in the next 10 years, Galanis says, “We believe that there are over 5 million people today who can be on Cameo. New stars are being created on TikTok and other platforms everyday and we want them all to be a part of our platform. We want Cameo to be the primary way that talent is able to monetize direct-to-consumer. We are more like an e-commerce marketplace with a lot of social media aspects to it and if we go in the right direction, we have the ability to build the first social network not based on an ad-revenue model. Unlike a platform like YouTube where videos could be monetized or demonetized, on Cameo you know every piece of content is getting paid for by someone, and that’s an interesting space."

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