Ed East, CEO of Billion Dollar Boy

Ed East saw the huge potential of influencer marketing early in the game. Photo: Billion Dollar Boy

Ed East is Global CEO and Co-Founder of billion dollar boy (BDB), the UK’s fastest growing influencer agency.

BDB grew the influencer marketing industry by 62%, helping the company land a spot on the Financial Times list of Europe’s 1000 fastest growing companies – the first and only marketing agency of influence presented.

Founded in 2014 with a workforce of approximately 150 people across the company, BDB forecasts revenue of $70 million for 2023.

My career wasn’t long, but I had trouble finding a job after leaving college in the United States. I applied to companies like Google for jobs related to digital marketing and continued to go through the latest rounds of graduate training programs, but made no progress.

I met over a drink a friend of the family, Oliver Pawle, who had the idea of ​​starting a charity that would support young entrepreneurs on their journey and give them all the essentials needed to start a business. a company. I found it fascinating.

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Previously an investment banker, Oliver is now chairman of executive search firm Korn Ferry. I joined Oliver as an intern, perhaps hoping to join his program when it first started.

In the meantime, I have learned so many things.

Oliver simply had an idea, with a great cause supporting young people. Since 2011, the New Entrepreneurs Foundation now has 350 graduates. It has since merged with the Entrepreneur Center. In addition, 170 businesses were created, with over 5,000 jobs created at a combined value of £620m.

The first lesson I learned was always to take action and make it happen, otherwise it will never become something. Three weeks after our drink, he had hired me as a junior and we were up and running, the first program launching that fall.

The founders of BDB: Thomas Walters (CEO Europe), Permele Doyle (President USA) and Ed East.  Photo: Paul Morse Photography

The founders of BDB: Thomas Walters (CEO Europe), Permele Doyle (President USA) and Ed East, on the right. Photo: Paul Morse Photography

Oliver is always energetic and upbeat, which energizes others. He also took the time to care and listen. I take the same positive energy approach at BDB – even when giving potentially bad news, I try to put a positive spin on it.

During his career, he has also built up a valuable network and this is one of the reasons why he is now in an executive search. It was clear to me that the network was the only way for the foundation to succeed. We had to go to companies that had never heard of anything like this before.

“You have to treat people with the utmost respect when you go up, because who knows what will happen when you come down,” he once said. In 2011, I joined the program and followed a large digital marketing agency as a new entrepreneur.

Having seen Oliver and his will to action, I was inspired. In my spare time, I worked on a database linking blogs – an embodiment of influencer marketing today – to brands. After moving to Los Angeles and seeing YouTubers and Instagrammers, I realized this was the market that needed to be connected to brands.

In 2014, Billion Dollar Boy was born. We wrote a long business plan in order to pay ourselves a salary. The genesis of influencer marketing has not changed, but the road has always taken us in different directions.

Billion Dollar Boy has become one of the fastest growing full-service influencer-run advertising agencies in the world.  Photo: Tom Miles

Billion Dollar Boy has become one of the fastest growing full-service influencer-run advertising agencies in the world. Photo: Tom Miles

As we are a large company, it is much more difficult to have an idea and to follow it because there are so many people and stakeholders involved. We are much less enterprising whereas in recent years we have been refining and perfecting what we are good at, instead of trying lots of new things.

There are always new platforms and new creators emerging. Influencers have democratized this content creation, can post through their own social media platform and it has changed the way brands can talk to the public.

While we did influencer marketing at scale over the past nine years, creator advertising is now at the forefront, one that we aim to double over the next few years. We take influencer assets and use them for many different forms of advertising. For example, we recently had the largest billboard in Australia, in Melbourne, where the content is made by influencers.

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The term creator economy has now been coined over the past 18 months to build businesses with influencers, leveraging the audiences and communities they have created to create new products and services. It takes us out of the agency model and allows us to co-invest and redefine how businesses are built.

Oliver was probably confident seeing me start something and that’s probably why he pushed and supported me. He might be a little surprised to see where I’m at, but he’ll no doubt be happy about it.

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