While I was in college I only dreamed of starting a business, but never took action, but Victor Ricci is different. Before starting his current company, Trend Pie, he stumbled into become an influencer on Vine amassing over 1 million followers.
I interviewed him to hear how it all started and how he has been able to have an influencer marketing company with over 250 million follower reach.
What’s your story?
I always liked creating videos and sharing content. Whether it was creating videos or putting out content on a parody twitter account – I loved sharing and creating things. In high school I always liked doing video projects when they were available. My high school friend, Matt and I would record some content and then make it into a video either for fun or for a video project. Around my junior/ senior year Vine was released so I started playing around with the 6-second loop. It was a unique place to express creativity. I began creating vines in my spare time.
At first I was posting creative Vines such as stop motion and paper animation. A few months later I wanted to post a video on an anonymous Twitter account I created – this is when I posted my first “life hack” Vine. The video was myself removing a yolk from an egg using a water bottle. A week later that account had over 25,000 followers just from that one video and I had absolutely no idea. One day my buddy Jack, who got me into creating parody accounts on Twitter, texted me and basically said, “Man, you should probably keep posting vines”.
Long story short I kept posting vines and 196 days later I had over 1 million followers and signed to a few management agencies who connected with apps and brands that paid me to post a Vine promoting their product. I was making $3,000-$5,000 per Vine, but the deals were fairly inconsistent and I did not know when the next opportunity would come. Sometimes I would make 3 Vines in a week and other times there would be two months or more in between.
Where did the idea for Trend Pie come from?
I was getting a bit bored with just creating videos and wanted create something bigger.
During one of the longer gaps of no brand deals I began to think – why can’t I post one video per day but at a lower rate? I would rather make $500 or even $300 every day than $5,000 once every month or so.
What was the first step you took after you had the idea?
I talked to a few account owners and influencers I knew and pitched them the Trend Pie idea. They were on board immediately. I knew what to do; I just did not know how to do it. I began doing some work looking into starting a company and on April 10th 2015 I founded Trend Pie, LLC.
Luckily a few days later I got a call from the CEO of the app Drunk Mode, Joshua Anton who wanted me to post a Vine about his app. Luckily, I was able to convince him to spend the money with my new company.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made and what did you learn from it?
Before I started trendpie.com I started painite.org. The idea behind Painite was an Amazon.com for influencer marketing. Users can buy shout outs or posts from popular Twitter, Instagram and Vine accounts just like Amazon. Then users select the date and time that of the posts and upload the desired content. After one month of being live, Painite had $0 in sales.
I thought this was a great idea but I quickly found out that the problem was trust. No one trusted the website, there was no credibility to the site, and there was no one there to help people along the process. So initially when I started Trend Pie I knew I not only needed to do marketing and advertising but I needed to do some consulting as well. My job became convincing people why they should trust us. After a few clients it got much easier - I had great results to show clients and the product sold itself.
Tell me about an accomplishment that shaped your career?
I would say the accomplishment that has shaped my career so far is the team that I have built. Trend Pie is a team of 7 phenomenal employees who are great at what they do. I look for creative people who can hustle while still paying attention to detail.
You cannot teach creativity. You cannot teach someone to stay up late and work because they want to. You cannot teach people to be meticulous by nature. These qualities to me are more important than GPA or some extracurricular activity. My team and I could train anyone to understand our business because we are all passionate about it and understand it from all angles. If you cannot teach your business to a kindergartener you either don’t understand your business well enough or don’t care to understand it.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I have ever received is in two parts. First, I believe it was Jeff Clavier who said in a Stanford entrepreneurship class to know the reason why you are an entrepreneur, whether it is to make a lot of money, make your own hours, be your own boss, or innovate. Know the reason you are doing what you do and every so often ask yourself if you are still working towards your goal.
Secondly, it’s not how much you make, but what you make. If you make something great everything else will follow. Don’t be concerned about making money, only be concerned with making something great. Steve Jobs didn’t start Apple because he wanted to be a billionaire – he wanted to make something different – something for the people. Amazon, Google, and Uber all started something to make the world a bit easier for the everyday person. I think sometimes money can be distracting to entrepreneurs.