Creator economy professionals Kenny Layton and Eileen Grennen have come together with a third partner to launch Jan One, a new consultancy focused on fostering partnerships between brands and digital creators. With decades of collective experience working with top online talent and at platforms like Twitch and Discord and brands like Popsugar, Logitech and Omaze, the founders aim to “bridge the gap” and bring creators into branding campaigns as true partners early on.
The name Jan One refers to January 1, 1983, considered the official birthday of the internet. “We wanted to pay homage to the fact that we’ve been here since the birth of the creator economy,” said Grennen.
Rather than one-off influencer marketing campaigns, Jan One looks to build sustainable relationships between brands and creators. According to Layton, “We want to make sure the creator is brought into conversations early on as a real partner, not just for a [single marketing activation.]”
This creator-centric approach reflects the founders’ backgrounds working in talent management and building creator platform Grennen was part of the founding team of Playlist Live, one of the first major events for creators, and has since worked on ecommerce, licensing, and content deals. Layton was instrumental to the founding of digital departments at talent agencies CAA and WME, signing some of YouTube’s first stars.
Most recently, the pair worked at Discord on creator partnerships and community building for musicians, athletes, and other celebrity talent. “We have a huge passion for building out creative partnerships and saw an opportunity to start a consultancy offering a better solution than traditional influencer marketing agencies,” said Layton.
Rather than prescribing one-size-fits all campaigns, Jan One aims to understand brands’ specific needs and creators’ evolving interests in order to foster “successful partnerships that drive cultural relevance.”
With an emphasis on “recognizing the interconnected nature of talent and brands,” Jan One’s services include identifying the right creators for product launches, getting creator feedback on offerings, and providing strategic guidance at all stages.
As online talent becomes increasingly central to marketing, Jan One hopes to use their industry expertise to help brands authentically connect with coveted creator audiences. More strategic, integrated campaigns also provide creators opportunities beyond one-time sponsorships.
Discord, Twitch Talent Vets Launch Jan One – A Creator-First Consultancy
Starting with creators at the forefront
The genesis was a shared frustration with how creators have traditionally been treated. “We’ve seen a lot of missteps when working directly with creators in the past on both the brand and representation side,” said Layton. “We know having them brought into conversations early and often leads to better outcomes.”
Rather than one-off campaigns, Jan One works to integrate rising online stars into branding discussions from the start – collaborating on product development and campaign strategy rather than just sponsorship.
This creator-centric ethos comes from over 10 years of working hands-on with top digital talent. “We’ve laid a lot of foundation for what the industry looks like today,” said Grennen. “Having worked so closely with creators, we understand what they need in a truly valuable brand partnership.”
Staying plugged into fan culture themselves also gives the founders unique insight. “We’ve stayed ahead of industry shifts by being early adopters – constantly learning and participating as fans,” said Layton.
Guidance for Navigating Evolving Landscape
With the creator industry advancing rapidly, Jan One’s founders draw on their extensive experience to offer wisdom for smoothing common pain points.
A key challenge cited by Grennen is the current lack of standardized metrics for creators to clearly communicate their value and performance to prospective partners. “We understand creator ROI and can put it in a language businesses [grasp],” she said. Jan One serves as a translator able to demonstrate concrete returns.
On the brand side, Layton encourages collaborating with creators beyond marketing activations by “creating a true partnership – bringing the creator in-house as a creator-in-residence, someone on the team whom you’re listening to for advice. It can mean having a creator panel to whom you show new products and have quarterly conversations. Or even creating a year-long partnership with one creator to help tell your whole story from soup to nuts, as opposed to just one moment in time.”
Lengthier, more integrated partnerships also yield better results according to Layton. “Work with one creator throughout an entire campaign rather than one-off sponsorships to really build that relationship.”
This chorus of advice stems from the vantage point Jan One holds over the ecosystem. “We’ve been here since the early days and know what pitfalls to expect,” said Layton. “We want to guide the next generation through the hurdles we experienced firsthand.”