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Lyle Stevens

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Mavrck Cofounder and CEO Lyle Stevens on Building Technology That Scales Social Proof

Most of the industry is focused on say, social media only. And within social media, a couple of key social networks like Instagram, Tik Tok and YouTube. And yes, we do all those. And a lot of our customers do activate a lot of creators on those platforms. But influencer marketing is just one piece of social proof. We have other capabilities that we bring to the market beyond the pretty photo on Instagram or engaging video on Tik Tok. As a result, we’ve integrated our system with a number of other key parts of the marketing technology stack.

Lyle Stevens started his work career as a cybersecurity project manager at Raytheon. It was while there that he had his first experience with influencer marketing.

“I was fortunate to build an enterprise grade social network for the company. When doing that, I came up with the idea to identify subject matter experts inside this large multinational corporation. We built a simple search query interface to find the subject matter experts on this social network. It was a fun gig. I loved the product.”

His interest in influencer marketing grew following an incident on Thanksgiving.

“Two of my three younger brothers were arguing in front of the entire family over who was cooler on Facebook. Being the big brother that I am, I decided I can settle this argument pretty quickly. I used Facebook’s API explorer to pull down the last 90 days’ worth of content for my two brothers and iterated through a janky version of the algorithm I built at the aerospace company. And basically it was ‘Brother 1 you’re full of crap. Brother 2 you are full of engagement’. That ended that argument.”

Lyle Stevens
Lyle Stevens, CEO, Mavrck

He returned to Boston and got together with his co-founder Sean Naegeli to create a platform that marketers could identify who had influence on Facebook.

“It was really just this thought experiment in this thought bubble. And then Sean and I got really obsessed with the idea. The rest is sort of history.”

What is Mavrck

Launched in fall of 2014 coming out of Techstars Boston, Mavrck is a software-as-a-service provider that helps brands better collaborate with influencers in order to create social proof at scale.

“It’s technology for enterprise consumer brands to identify individuals that have influence so they can work with those people to tell a more authentic story. We call it social proof. A lot of the industry calls it influencer marketing but we think influencer marketing is like a flavor of social proof. Social proof is anything an individual can say online or offline about a brand. Could be posting on Instagram, a video on YouTube or on Tik Tok, a rating and review on Amazon.com or an ecommerce store. Influencer marketing is just one flavor of social proof that brands need to invest in today.”

Mavrck aims to help the 50 million odd self-identified content creators make a living out of their passion.

“Only about two million of them can make a full time living. Being a content creator, we want to close that gap. And in doing so will help enterprise brands build more trustworthy and authentic content. That their target consumers actually trust. Because in today’s day and age, most consumers don’t trust messaging that comes from brands or institutions. Rather, they look to other people. We want to help those people make a living off that passion. And we want brands to build more trustworthy content by partnering with those people.”

Mavrck takes a broader approach to influencer marketing than other industry players, Lyle says.

“Most of the industry is focused on social media only. And within social media, a couple of key social networks like Instagram, Tik Tok and YouTube. And yes, we do all those. And a lot of our customers do activate a lot of creators on those platforms. But influencer marketing is just one piece of social proof. We have other capabilities that we bring to the market beyond the pretty photo on Instagram or engaging video on Tik Tok. As a result, we’ve integrated our system with a number of other key parts of the marketing technology stack.”

The platform’s features are geared to make enterprise consumer brands successful at scale.

“Our primary user is a brand marketer. Every step that is required to activate a creator. From finding the right creator, communicating with them, setting up campaigns, negotiating pricing, reviewing drafts, pulling the content, measuring the results including downstream conversions. The end-to-end capabilities are built in our technology. The average customer of Mavrck is working with thousands of creators every month, not just a handful. A customer comes to us when they’re ready to scale their programs and add a couple of zeros to the amount of people they want to work with.”

A common misconception some of Mavrck’s customers have is that the company is an agency.

“Because we offer professional services in addition to our software platform, some of our customers may mistake us for an agency. There are agency-like components to Mavrck in terms of the strategy consulting and professional services we provide on top of the technology that our customers are using.  And we often replace an agency as a brand is scaling their program and bringing it in house. But we are really a software-as-a-service with professional services on top.”

Navigating COVID-19 has been his most challenging moment as CEO.

“A few of us thought our industry was going to go on ice in 2020 and go away. But fortunately, consumers turned to content creators and we saw engagement rates jump more than 70 percent in the first 45 days of lockdown in the US. All of us know how this story played out but those first 60 days in Q2 of 2020 were tumultuous and we didn’t know where the future was going to go. Being data driven helped us navigate through it successfully, come out much stronger and put us in a position to be a leader in this category.”

Prediction of Influencer Marketing Space for the Next 3-5 Years

Lyle has some predictions for the influencer marketing world.

First, the creator space is becoming a billion-person industry.

“We are going to reach a billion people globally that self-identity as a content creator from the 50 million today. Maybe that’s more in 5 years. One of the reasons I think that is because so many creators that we talk to have become creators recently. COVID has accelerated people reflecting on what they want to do with their lives and realizing they don’t want to work a desk job or go to the office every day. This great resignation has been happening around the world around COVID. More and more people are becoming content creators.”

Second, formal qualifications in influencer marketing.

“You’re going to be able to get a degree as a content creator. And we’re starting to see universities offer classes around becoming an influencer or content creator already.”

Third, the growing domination of Tik Tok for the next five years though Metaverse is not going away.

“Look at the history of influencer marketing. In the spring of 2016, Instagram changed their algorithm from chronological to algorithmic. That made the best content rise to the top of the Instagram feed. You can look at Google search traffic around the keyword ‘influencer marketing’ and the spring of 2016 is where it takes off. Instagram making that change accelerated the category. Tik Tok has built a better version of an algorithmic feed than Instagram so is going to take the market.”

Fourth, more frictionless relationships between brands and creators thanks to the availability of data.

“There’s going to be a time and place where influencer marketing is going to be more frictionless. Right now it’s very linear. You reach out to a creator or they apply, review that creator, they get approved, you send a brief, you negotiate and agree on a price, they sign a contract, they create content, review the content, publish the content and they get paid. There’s a lot of friction in those steps. I envision a world where a lot of that friction goes away because marketers get enough information that allows them to trust the process more and don’t have to approve every single step along the way.”

Lyle Stevens: Future Plans

Lyle would want more collaboration between players in the influencer marketing industry to counter fraud.

“Platforms and agencies should create a central fraud repository where we all contribute. Just like in financial services you have credit bureaus with credit scores. I think every platform and agency is sort of doing their own version of quality control and fraud analysis of who has fake followers and fake engagement. But if we all contributed to a centralized organization and we could create a centralized or like a fraud store, that would go a long way in the industry because there are still too many bad apples and bad actors out there buying fake followers and fake engagement.”

Mavrck closed a US$120 million investment in December 2021 that will be vital in building the smartest platform in the market, Lyle says.

“By smartest we mean helping marketers make smart decisions about how they would work with influencers and creators, how much to pay them, which social networks they should activate them on. Most of the industry is still making those decisions offline and then plugging the decisions into technology and executing the workflow of the said decisions or campaigns. We envision a world where our technology recommends some of those decisions in real time to marketers. And that’s because of the many years of data we’ve amassed through the almost three million people we’ve activated through our system.”

He is keen on contributing to the evolution of influencer marketing into the next phase.

“We’re excited at Mavrck to have the opportunity to go build the social proof platform for enterprise consumer brands. We’ll be doubling our company to do so.”


Lyle Stevens is the Cofounder and CEO at Mavrck, a cloud-based solution that helps brands better collaborate with influencers in order to create social proof at scale. He previously worked as a project manager at Raytheon. Lyle has a bachelor of science in business administration from Northeastern University. He lives in Boston, MA.

Lyle Stevens started his work career as a cybersecurity project manager at Raytheon. It was while there that he had his first experience with influencer marketing.

“I was fortunate to build an enterprise grade social network for the company. When doing that, I came up with the idea to identify subject matter experts inside this large multinational corporation. We built a simple search query interface to find the subject matter experts on this social network. It was a fun gig. I loved the product.”

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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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