I fell in love.. not with a man in my case, but with a SaaS platform. It sounds weird but it’s the truth. I started working for Influentials, and it was the only thing I could think of or talk about. I didn’t earn a lot of money because it was a start-up, but I didn’t care because it was making me so happy and energetic.
I learned a lot about myself and discovered new qualities. And like a relationship, there were ups and downs. But I could learn something new every day, and with the learnings outweighing the challenges, the question of giving up never crossed my mind. I believed in it because I absolutely loved the day-to-day. That’s the reason why we’re still going strong.
During my studies, I always had a part-time job, long before I started my internship at Influentials. I was never scared to get my hands dirty and I love working in a team and among people, so I always chose a job in the hospitality sector. I held all kinds of roles - from waitress to hostess. I worked for the biggest events, like the opening of the $2.6 billion ship, famous festivals and popular parties. On the other hand, I also worked at intimate events like weddings and funerals.
I believe my early experience in hospitality taught me a lot. I am no stranger to hard work, I’ve learned to communicate within a big team under pressure, developed an eye for detail, and learned how to talk to clients and guests. I know how to tie bows and present myself best.
An unconventional path to becoming CEO
From intern to CEO - sounds like the inspiring title of a book. I remember being extremely excited to start at Influentials. I was never a school kinda person so I was simply happy that I didn’t have to take tests anymore.
My first task was to find influencers to join the platform. A largely mechanical task, I decided to make it fun for myself and set targets every week. That was fun. At the time, the leadership recognised my efforts and asked me to start making outbound sales. I wasn’t experienced in sales, but I had nothing to lose so I started learning. Every day after lunch, until the end of the day I was doing cold calls. Long story short, I was pretty good at it and landed two of my first clients - CoolBlue and L’Oreal.
The same year I started working as Brand Advisor at Influentials. Within the past 7 years, I’ve held every position possible within the company. It has been a rollercoaster. One day we had a team of over 15 FTE across two offices, and the next it was just two people in a small Rotterdam-based office, working to make this dream come true.
I know this company, I know every little piece of it, I know the customers and I see the landscape… Influentials is my place to be! No matter what happens, I have one goal, to take it to the top and I know it’s not easy to get there.
Eventually, the pandemic hit and our Founder decided to leave to pursue other opportunities. Since the team had shrunk significantly, I started equating my life to that of the company. My main driver was the fear of failure, especially since I am not naturally good with change.
When I was on a holiday, I had time to think and decided to contact Mike and Sharon (the Managing Directors of Builders) to schedule a meeting. I needed to understand what Builders had in mind for Influentials and how the company would develop. I had never seen myself as the CEO because I never thought it was possible and didn’t have enough experience. I am not good with numbers, and I had never managed a company, but Builders encouraged me to take the role. There was always a sentiment of “we are here to help you, Dana, you can do this”.
July 1st 2021, was my official first day as CEO of Influentials! I got many nice comments, followers and high-fives, but one comment stuck with me and gave me the confidence that I had made the right decision, “Congrats Dana, logical step, you are the company”.
And that's true, I am Influentials!
Inside the Builders ecosystem
Before joining Builders, it always frustrated me that we worked hard, harder, hardest but without a strategy. In particular, we were missing a sales strategy. We didn’t do any marketing or look into the numbers.
When I started the collaboration with Builders, the first step was with finding all that historical data, so we could set realistic goals! There is more structure now and our efforts are not directionless. I now thoroughly enjoy thinking about how to optimise processes and working things out in strategic workflows.
At the start, we had some troubles … to be perfectly honest! Influentials was not a new company, and we had to come up to speed with the Builders method. For example, the conventional go-to-market plan was not what we needed (it was good for my learning journey, however). We decided to follow a personalised plan, rather than the standard stage-gate model. This has turned out well for both the studio and Influentials.
Overall, I am most grateful that the Builders team is always there for us, ready to help and advise my team when needed. We can find all the expertise we need within the studio team, to compensate for the capabilities we are currently missing. What’s more, is that we can get the advice we need for sustained growth.
Dana, the brand
Dana the brand is intelligent and fun! She loves to inspire others (within and outside the team) and help them grow. People and culture are big things for me, especially the transparency, structure, and purity.
Within Influentials, we are very open and put our people first. We make time for their personal growth and check in on their progress bi-weekly. We are big proponents of living your best life and enjoying your time at work. Your work, your team, is your family… you see each other 5 days a week. So it is important any employee does not dread their work.
This philosophy sounds idealistic, but also has boundaries and guidelines. People need structure, and the phase we are in as a company demands structure. So we start at 9.00 and you don’t go home early without any good reason. On Monday, we start the week together as a team and we end the week together with a beer, no exceptions. Every day we check in on goals, and believe me - when you work within a bigger, partially remote team, this is so important!!
It sounds outdated, but for us, it works!! The team loves the way we work and is super loyal and committed!
What I want more than anything at Influentials is to be able to help out our customers no matter what. We, the team, are always available for them. As a result of this attitude, our customer support gets a 5-star rating. We give them the attention they need. We will make them grow 😊
My dream is to make Influentials an authority in the European landscape of influencer marketing. We may not be the biggest, but we will be the best. We give attention to our clients and their needs, we have loyal customers and never let them go. Our mission is to provide the easiest way for brands and creators to work together best and make the European influencer marketing space more predictable, engaging, and meaningful.
I truly believe that dedication and perseverance will get us there!
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