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Bridging The Gap Kyra's Devran Amaratunga Karaca On The New Age Of Content Creation


Kyra: Net Influencer Interviews Kyra

Devran Amaratunga Karaca discusses the challenges faced by content creators and how Kyra is bridging the gap between them and brands. With a unique focus on high-touch, tech-powered service, Kyra streamlines the partnership process and provides instant, quality opportunities for creators. Devran highlights the importance of giving creative control to creators and adapting to market shifts like the rise of short-form content.

Devran Amaratunga Karaca discusses the challenges faced by content creators and how Kyra is bridging the gap between them and brands. With a unique focus on high-touch, tech-powered service, Kyra streamlines the partnership process and provides instant, quality opportunities for creators. Devran highlights the importance of giving creative control to creators and adapting to market shifts like the rise of short-form content.

Who is Devran Amaratunga Karaca?

Devran Amaratunga Karaca is one of the co-founders of Kyra. The company has existed for about six years and started on YouTube as the founders were also content creators. They made some premium YouTube shows that got millions of subscribers and fans, which is why they have an in-depth understanding of the content creation process. 

Can you share a brief history of Kyra and how the idea for the company was conceived?

When TikTok started coming around in 2019, Kyra focused more on that platform as they saw how big it would get. “It really kind of democratized content creation for anyone in the world; to be able to pick up their phones and start building an audience, so that was quite exciting for us,” Devran recalls. 

In 2019, Kyra started honing in by working with creators and brands. This was the time when they saw the pain point between both sides. On the creator’s side, the problem they saw was the regular income they were earning, especially for short-form creators. It wasn’t clear where and when their next paycheck was going to come from.

In addition, it was quite challenging to know the quality opportunities for creators. Most creators would receive thousands of emails in their inboxes, but it’s difficult for them to know which are good or bad deals and which brands they should partner with or build a relationship with. There was a lot of back and forth with a brand over email. 

“But the communication flow is pretty fragmented. Payment terms for creators were generally quite bad, sometimes more than 60 days after the campaign was over. So, from when you first accept a deal to being paid, it can take three to four months, which is crazy,” Devran explains. 

They also talked to creators and found out that being one can be lonely as creators are on their own. They’re basically self-employed without any means of talking to other creators. 

And then, on the brand’s side, it all comes down to the amount of time needed to get something out the door with the creators. Kyra wants to reduce the time spent as working with creators can be unpredictable at times as it’s not always clear whether these creators will perform or not for the brand. 

“It’s tough to scale because if you’re trying to work with hundreds of creators, you have to manage all of these different conversations and look at all these different reports,” Devran says. “We decided to tackle that relationship between the two of them.”

The inspiration for Kyra was to build a platform almost similar to Upwork but for freelancers. 

What gap in the market did you aim to fill when you co-founded Kyra?

“The way I see it, there are two ends of the spectrum. There are a lot of tech platforms that help brands discover creators. These platforms may be CRM systems, where brands can reach out to creators and then manage the campaign. And then, on the other side, you have creator agencies that will help you deliver the campaign from start to finish, but it’s more about the creative idea you come up with. It’s more about reaching out to the creators and making sure all of them post [content] and that sort of stuff,” Devran says. 

In these two ends, one is high touch while the other is self-serving. Kyra wants to come in the middle and give users a high touch, more like a white glove service of a creator, while mixing it with powerful technology they’ve built into the platform. 

Kyra calls itself a tech-powered creative creator agency to make the whole process quick, measurable, and repeatable with creators. 

Could you explain Kyra’s core offerings and services?

Kyra’s services are two-sided. For creators, they offer access to high-quality brands, partnerships, and opportunities with those brands. The platform aims to streamline the whole process, including providing creators with clear partnership requirements through the app. Kyra also approves 75% of the partnerships, saving creators time and effort from going back and forth with the brand. 

Kyra has an in-app chat community with community managers, so any questions are answered instantly. There are also instant payments for creators, so they don’t have to wait for 60 days for their money. Creators in the platforms are also added to community networks where they can start collaborating and connecting with other creators and build their own networks.

On the brand’s side, Kyra handles the whole end-to-end process, which starts with creating a match. “We built some of the best discovery tools in the industry, like AI matching, to ensure we curate and onboard the best creators for your brand,” Devran adds. 

Kyra utilizes trend analysis technology, which is built-in into the app, and that informs their insights. Kyra then builds that into campaigns and proceeds with the approval process all through the platform. It also offers analytics and guarantees campaign performance. 

“We like to work long-term with our brand. So, we build the brand by creating a community they can always access. And that has allowed us to form an idea to content out the door in under seven days, which is significantly faster than what agencies offer,” Devran explains. 

Do you have your roster of influencers and creators that you work with?

There are over a thousand creators on the Kyra app, which keeps growing. In fact, over 10,000 individuals have applied to be in that community.

The creators present in the app are on demand. They’re on the end of a push notification, meaning they’re creators that any brand or anyone can access and work with. 

“That’s the kind of community that we’re building. Those creators have a reach of almost a billion views every single month, so it’s a big community on that side,” Devran describes further. “We don’t represent any creators exclusively. We’re trying to build something that doesn’t tire a creator. They come to our platform because it has the best brands, opportunities, and best user experience. They get their payments instantly and get to talk to other creators. We’re trying to build the best experience for a creator rather than trying to lock them into a contract.”

What differentiates Kyra from other companies in the influencer marketing space?

“When I compare against the tech platforms, we’re coming up with the briefs and ideas for the brands. We’re looking at what they’re trying to achieve. We’re looking at trends and things going on in the platform and then using that as an insight to build the brief for the creators. From a tech perspective, I don’t think people are doing that,” Devran shares. 

Kyra also guarantees the performance of their campaigns, which is often a common problem among brands. They’re also building these communities of creators for the brands. 

To put it in perspective, when a beauty brand uses Kyra’s services, they’ll onboard incredible beauty creators who the brand can send briefs whenever they want. 

Additionally, Kyra is a nimble tech business that is always updating its products and services. They’re updating on a weekly basis at the moment and are moving a lot faster than most of their competitors.  

How does Kyra strive to ensure its content creators are providing authentic and engaging content?

“I think what we’re trying to do is provide education within the industry. What we’re trying to educate brands on is if you give the creative control over to the creators more, you’re going to get content that’s more similar to their editorial content and will perform organically and as well as their editorial content,” Devran says. 

When they look at the performance of these campaigns, they focus on their performance ratio. This determines how a certain piece of content performs versus a creator’s editorial content. “Does this piece of brand-new content as good as the piece of content they would be making anyway? Because if we can get those two things to match up, we kind of solved a huge problem,” Devran adds. 

Kyra also doesn’t make briefs that are too prescriptive for creators. It’s common for brands to basically map out the entire flow of how the content is going to look, but that doesn’t work well, especially on a platform like TikTok. 

Can you share some of the key milestones Kyra has achieved since its inception?

Besides having thousands of creators on the app, with thousands more signing up, Kyra is also onboarding creators and brands to come onto the platform. They ensure that creators have things to work on. 

Since Kyra was launched, they already have a database of over 400 million creators, allowing them to search for the best brands, and over 20 brands have signed up and put out campaigns on the platform. 

“Since we launched the platform, we’ve been earning thousands of dollars every single month right now. And some have Kyra as their number-one earning potential in a month. But that’s what we’re trying to get to do with all of the creators. Right now, it’s just a portion,” Devran explains. 

How has the influencer marketing landscape changed since you started Kyra, and how has the company adapted?

When Kyra started, TikTok didn’t exist, and long-form content was the winner. YouTube and Instagram were the main platforms where influencer marketing was done. 

But the rise of TikTok forced the whole market to split. Today, 50% of the content online is short-form videos, and other platforms are pushing short-form videos, too. Nowadays, there’s so much going on in that space, and the popularity and growth of TikTok is one of the reasons why. 

Devran continues, “I think that it was easier to just partner with macro influencers before, but now, people are realizing the power of smaller creators but have more engaged communities. And really, it’s just about, ‘How do you do that at a scale?’ It’s so much easier to just partner with one macro creator. ‘But what if I could work with a thousand micro creators and get more reach and engagement for a lower cost?'” This is basically the problem that Kyra tries to solve. 

What are your views on the current state of the creator economy?

“I think it’s super-saturated for creators. If we’ve got 400 million on our database, it’s hard for a creator to cut through, especially when it’s their first time coming around. There’s that golden period where you could become a star within a few months, but that doesn’t exist now,” Devran says. 

Because of this, creators have to work harder and stay consistent. They have to think about the type of content they want to create and the niche they want to be in. They also have to exert more resources to build their communities, diversify in terms of platforms, and think about different monetization routes they can possibly go to. 

How do you envision the future of the creator economy, especially in relation to influencer marketing?

“If advertisers spend $600 billion on digital platforms and influencer marketing, a fraction of that, like 5%, will go to the creators. The percentage has to go up, and hopefully, we’re part of that story,” Devran states. 

How do you think AI can shape the future of the creator economy and influencer marketing?

“I think AI influences will start being a thing, and it’ll be differentiating between real creators and AI creators. They’re going to build communities and probably monetize those. I think it’s already helping existing creators with production. We’ve seen amazing tools for creating imagery, video, and podcasting,” Devran explains. 

The rise of AI will help with content creation and ideation in the short term. Long-term, it’s going to open lots of possibilities. 

When asked about Devran’s take on people being scared of AI, he has this to say, “What people are worried about is the displacement of jobs, but those jobs will move elsewhere. There will be a displacement, a moment where certain roles don’t exist anymore, and those people may have to re-skill.”

For Devran, the rise of AI is similar to when the internet came around. People back then were also scared, and some probably wanted to shut it down. But now, people roll with it. So instead of fearing or completely dismissing the idea of AI, he advises everyone to see the opportunities brought by this technology. 

How is Kyra planning to incorporate AI into its strategies or services, if at all?

“So far, no one in this industry has really successfully built it in, so we want to be one of the first. We’re building the ultimate AI creator discovery tool. So natural language search and chat [features] to help you find the best creators,” Devran shares. 

With this tech, brands can log in, search for creators for a specific niche, and have answers within three seconds. Kyra is in the process of building this tech into their platform. 

What are some challenges you foresee in the influencer marketing space, and how does Kyra plan to navigate them?

“It’s very competitive. There are thousands and thousands of agencies, there are lots of platforms, but I think they’re not necessarily offering the right solution,” Devran shares.

As of the moment, Kyra has a 100% retention rate with their partners, meaning they all want to work with them again once they use their product. Their partners choose to work with Kyra again because they see the power and ease of it. The platform is basically like an extension of their team. 

How do you ensure a fair and ethical approach when dealing with influencers and brands on your platform?

Kyra aims to protect creators, especially in terms of payment schedules. The platform builds the contracting, so it’s creative-friendly for brands. “We’re vetting all of the creators for brand safety and look through all of their content. It’s quite a stringent criterion we’re going through,” Devran adds.

And in general, Kyra wants to democratize the process, like removing the bias of manual curation that most agencies have. When it comes to safety, Kyra has a community team available, who creators can speak to about any issues they have about the platform. 

On the brand’s side, Kyra offers program managers who act as the brands’ support network, so they can go through the platform seamlessly. 

How has the global pandemic affected Kyra and the influencer marketing space in general?

“It all just accelerated everything. I think the numbers just went through the roof [because] everyone was bored. They were at home, they wanted to watch content, so TikTok downloads probably went 10x more, and the amount of time spent on these platforms went through the roof,” Devran says. 

For him, the pandemic fast-forwarded the inevitable anyway. Unfortunately, Kyra was around at the right time to be at the forefront of that demand and really understand the platform, and ensure that they can help both sides by navigating the entire content creation process. 

Can you tell us about any upcoming features or services that Kyra is planning to launch?

Devran gave us a sneak peek of Kyra’s future offerings by talking about two of its up-and-coming features: multi-platform partnerships and additional tools. 

At the moment, Kyra is purely for TikTok collaboration. By incorporating multi-platform partnerships, Kyra will allow brands to put a brief, and creators can answer that brief and post content to Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. This feature will enable creators to make one piece of content and potentially earn in three different ways. Brands, on the other hand, can get three different platform reach. 

“And then we’re looking into building these incredible tools, discovery trends, and many others. We’re going to open that out to brands, so they can access those on just a pure subscription platform payment service. And then as they use those, they can then contact us and work with us on the campaigns, as well,” Devran explains. 

What are some of the long-term goals and visions for Kyra in the next 5 to 10 years?

“I want people to think of us as the home of creators. First, we want to concentrate on solving the most important issue for creators, which is making money, and that’s especially an issue for short-form creators. So, we want to be that place that a creator logs into every day to check in on their work opportunities, see their payments, and connect with other creators,” Devran says. 

In the future, the team has ideas around banking and other different services and will filter them based on what creators need and what will solve their problems. 

If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to enter the creator economy or influencer marketing space, what would it be?

“As soon as you start, as soon as you get going, opportunities will start appealing. So, if you are consistent and you maximize the amount of content that you put out, things will start happening. That’s the beauty of platforms like results will just happen,” Devran advises. 

“Just think about your point of view, passions, niche, and perspective that will resonate with someone else. And as you do that, things will start happening. So focus on your why and stay consistent.” 

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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