About the Co-Founders Simone and Madison Long
Simone May grew up with two engineer parents, which instilled a passion in her for the higher education space and problem-solving. During college, she studied software engineering at Purdue University.
She also joined the National Society of Black Engineers at Purdue and shares, “I had a real passion for democratizing access to people of color when it comes to engineering as well as access to opportunities in general.”
After college, Simone was a technology consultant and worked across several industries, leading her to co-found Clutch with Madison Long.
Madison Long is an Indiana native who attended Purdue University, meeting Simone during her first year of college. Both of her parents worked in healthcare. However, her dad reinvented himself in his mid-thirties and became an entrepreneur. She shares that watching her dad be an entrepreneur inspired her and eventually led her to attend summer business programs while she was a high school student.
Madison explains, “By the time I got to college, I knew I wanted to merge my passion for being able to empower and advocate on behalf of the next generation as well as my interest in business and those fundamentals.”
She studied accounting at Purdue, worked a few internships, and then worked full-time at Microsoft in corporate finances, giving her ample experience in company operations.
Eventually, Simone contacted Madison with a startup idea, and they began working together to launch Clutch, a platform empowering creators and emerging brands in the new creator economy.
What is Clutch?
Madison shares that young people are looking for more opportunities to participate in the workforce on their own terms. For example, younger generations may emphasize finding work with flexible hours, remote opportunities, or choose to have multiple gigs rather than a traditional nine-to-five job.
In terms of goals, Simone shares that the primary purpose of Clutch is to empower and enable the next generation.
Simone explains, “More specifically, from my perspective, giving people equal opportunity to work in a way that makes sense for them, I think, is something that I truly care about. Balance and lifestyle, being able to provide a platform that allows people to have a balance in their lifestyle where they can work remotely, express themselves creatively, but also go to school or work their full-time job.”
Another of Clutch’s goals is to provide educational resources so people can continue learning and building a sustainable brand while avoiding burnout.
How Can Creators Stabilize their Incomes?
Creating stable income streams is one of the most challenging parts of being a creator. As Madison shared, only a small percentage of creators can make significant and consistent money.
Madison shares, “I know creators who have a hundred thousand followers on TikTok and make less than a hundred dollars a year through the platform and they have to rely on other kinds of partnerships and opportunities to bring in revenue consistently. That’s what we think is so special about Clutch.”
She adds that Clutch connects creators with steady income streams by introducing them to businesses looking for months of creative work where the creator represents the brand. Creators make content for the brand, providing them with a steady stream of income and a more stable lifestyle.
How Can Brands Scale with Creator Marketing?
Simone shares that one of the misconceptions about scaling a brand through creator marketing is that many brands miss explaining to others what they’re selling and what the product or service will do for the individual.
She explains, “I think now marketing has turned into brands selling to small niche audiences that resonate with the brand because there are so many options out there… I think that’s what our creators are really good at is finding a way to speak to that niche audience that the emerging brand needs to capture in order for that person to trust buying that product or service.”
The Future of the Workforce
Madison and Simone explain that the pandemic significantly impacted the workforce and people’s view of work.
Simone shares, “I think that given the fact that people can do additional or primary work as a creator remotely, it gives them creative control. They might need the space. They might need to actually create the content or support the content, whatever they’re doing… The second thing that’s kind of directly dependent on that is the idea of being able to have multiple careers or jobs.”
Previous generations were taught to go to school and land a stable nine-to-five job. However, today’s generations are approaching work with the idea that working multiple jobs or freelancing is normal and even desirable.
Clutch Client Success Stories
One of Clutch’s biggest success stories is with the CBD brand Nama CBD, which was looking for creators on Clutch to market their new beverage. On Clutch, Nama CBD was looking for a female creator with bartending experience who could create beautiful non-alcoholic drinks with their new product and feature it on TikTok.
Madison shares, “I think that’s a really special example of demonstrative showing you how to use and engage in the product and build trust around it because when people look at a video of a product, they are, I think, three times more likely to convert to a sale than just looking at a static image.”
She adds that the campaign resulted in multiple viral TikToks that had excellent engagement and created a lot of buzz around the new drink.
What’s Missing in the Creator Marketplace?
Simone and Madison feel that the gap between influencers and creators who can make this a full-time job is enormous, which is something that they would love to see change in the coming years.
Madison shares, “Not every small business can afford an influencer, and most of the top influencers are getting all the deals that even come in… so when you’re viral on TikTok, and you have to compete with actual celebrities for the same brand deals that can get really competitive. There are millions of businesses starting every year in the United States who would love to work with someone creative enough to help them launch an Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat.”
As a result of this gap, Madison and Simone continue to develop Clutch to democratize the creator marketplace and allow emerging creators and brands to connect and mutually benefit from campaigns together.
The creator application for Clutch starts with completing an assignment for Clutch first, then filling out a dashboard and profile, and being connected to fitting brands.
Madison concludes, “I think it’s so fantastic that we’re able to also build our company as an emerging startup ourselves with the amazing talent that we are essentially selling to other brands and clients. We just really take pride in the fact that we have such a diverse group of creators.”