Interview with Ms Yulia Aslamova, Head of Asia, DRIM
DRIM- India’s 1st & only performance based influencer marketing startup that offers end to end management to D2C brands and has over 250k influencers, 200 brands, and nearly 2000 influencer talent managers and develops campaign strategies to help brands like Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Swiggy, Amazon, Snapdeal, and others.
Tell us a little about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey
Yulia Aslamova: Born into a middle-class family, I grew up in a small Siberian village. But, despite my humble beginnings, I was always encouraged by my supportive parents to work hard and become self-reliant to pursue my dreams.
Thus, while my peers were enjoying their teenage life, I devoted myself to eventually secure a 100% scholarship at the National Mining University in St. Petersburg – one of the most prestigious institutions in the country.
While the decision to pursue a course in mining seemed right at that time, I soon realised that it was not the right industry for me.
That’s why, right after the first semester, I picked up part-time work as a promoter in a local mall. Though the idea was to support myself through my time at the university, I soon found my true calling with a burgeoning passion for Marketing, Sales and PR.
From starting as a promoter in the mall, I managed to grow up the ladder to become a supervisor and eventually a marketing manager in an MNC at the age of just 20. Since then, there has been no turning back.
At 22, I sowed the seeds of my entrepreneurial journey with a social enterprise to support orphans and kids from underprivileged backgrounds from small cities.
In a span of just 2.5 years, we managed to make the charity sustainable. During that time, my search for new business opportunities saw me visiting India more frequently.
And, nine years later, I found my life partner in India. We got married in 2015 which saw me relocating, leaving everything behind, to this beautiful country for good.
Having begun married life, I joined Bangalore-based BHIVE as brand marketing lead before being roped in by a US firm SEMrush as their country head. As I grew professionally, I also embraced motherhood after giving birth to an amazing baby girl.
Despite leaving my career and social circle behind in Russia, my life – both personal and professional – couldn’t be any better, yet something felt amiss.
In 2019, my entrepreneurial aspirations became the cornerstone of my vision to create a dynamic firm that would eventually be called Drim.
Having organised one of the biggest Indian digital marketing conferences that year, I realised that recommendation is a key driving force for sales in the country, especially if it comes from a subject matter expert.
That realisation led to the advent of Drim. A firm believer in the potential of the Creator Economy, I have always felt that right narrative and creative storytelling can have a significant impact on businesses and even individuals.
With Drim, we’re looking to make influencer marketing a robust performance marketing channel to help brands achieve real results in sales, new clients and other valuable actions.
What are the services you provide at DRIM?
Yulia Aslamova: At DRIM we believe that results are of the utmost importance- both for brands and influencers. Keeping this idea in mind DRIM helps generate sales for brands via effective micro-influencer/blogger campaigns.
We are essentially a performance influencer marketing platform where brands meet the perfect influencers/bloggers and only pay for the results.
Our technology stack helps scale the campaigns. With innovative features like; smart segmentation where the platform identifies statistically significant segments of influencers who perform best for a particular brand.
The look-alike & ML features help find similar to the best converting influencers for a particular brand.
Our flagship analytical system will find the top-performing influencers across 8 social networks within a database of 250k+ micro-influencers. Our 500+ managers will assist them to deliver results and scale your campaigns.
We have created an easy to use ecosystem for influencers to effectively collaborate with global brands. Influencers sign up & choose the brands they would like to collaborate with.
They can fully concentrate on giving their creative best to the campaign, while our manager at DRIM does the negotiations & ensures timely pay outs. At DRIM, influencers have no cap on their earnings, the sky’s the limit.
What is unique about DRIM?
Yulia Aslamova: We anticipate the advertising industry will face challenging times ahead. Every crisis is the right time for innovation.
Influencer marketing traditionally delivers only brand awareness and visibility. Many brands are not willing to pay high prices for qualitative results that are also uncertain.
The industry sees a decrease in bloggers payout by 25% within one year. Brands increasingly seek the direct business impact of any marketing channel they spend on. DRIM is the only performance influencer marketing platform for the brands.
We offer a transparent solution and propose brands pay only for the result they get via bloggers/influencers.
We believe the industry would collectively grow when brands & influencers are both able to justify their investment & efforts respectively.
Our full-stack platform combines smart segmentation, Look-a-like & ML to deliver the desired results at scale along with a project management tool kit.
While most other agencies are still pitching the qualitative metrics, we at DRIM know quantitative metrics are as important as qualitative metrics.
What made you choose this type of business?
Yulia Aslamova: Though brand integration existed in India, it was still not strong enough to attract masses. But, the year 2016 can be termed as the golden year when social media influencers truly became a thing and brands started considering the concept of influencer marketing in India more seriously.
Having already worked in the Indian marketing landscape, I was fortunate enough to identify upcoming trends and emerging markets.
Acting on my vision to leverage the potential of what eventually became the creator economy, I created Drim to aid brands in achieving desired business outcomes by harnessing the power of performance influencer marketing.
From being valued at Rs 900 crore in 2021, India’s influencer marketing industry is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 25 percent over the next five years to reach a staggering Rs 2,200-crore valuation by 2025.
The meteoric rise is attributed to the steep growth in the number of creators, and the increasing partnerships between brands and creators, to deliver compelling, relatable story-telling content to the target audience – something we, at Drim, specialise in.
What was your mission at the outset?
Yulia Aslamova: It was undoubtedly to create a platform that benefits both brands and influencers. Technology being the heart of it, we wanted to stay true to core human values.
We also wanted to shake the way influencer marketing industry was perceived when we started. The notion that influencers are a great channel for brand awareness, but not for sales.
How many employees are there in your organisation?
Yulia Aslamova: Currently we have three international branches (Latam, India and western Europe) and have over 150 employees across the globe + over 500 influencer talent managers with us.
What are your organisational goals and future plans?
Yulia Aslamova: We at DRIM are significantly scaling by onboarding valuable partners which are top agencies in India. We are already working with over 10 brand marketing agencies and providing them with our unique model for India- performance influencer marketing services.
In the next year, we are going to grow our revenue by 10-20x and expand our team significantly. We’re gearing to receive direct integrations with some top social media marketing networks in the country.
As part of giving back to the ever growing community of influencers we are all set to launch DRIM’s creator academy which is made by creators, for creators.
Our aim is to teach thousands of micro-influencers the tricks of the trade and get them ready to work on the CPA model of performance influencer marketing.
What was the inspiration behind turning an entrepreneur?
Yulia Aslamova: For someone who learnt the importance of being self-reliant at a tender age, I have always wanted to help others and uplift them in their respective career paths.
Whether it was my social enterprise or the most recent venture, witnessing your efforts bearing fruit and creating a positive impact on someone else’s life is something I’ve always cherished.
With Drim, I’m truly thrilled to employ such wonderful and talented women to bolster our workforce. I am delighted to provide them with unlimited opportunities to grow, earn and manage housework/motherhood alongside nurturing their respective careers in the IT company.
I am also a strong believer in the potential of the Creator Economy and the impact it can have on businesses and individuals.
At Drim, I am consistently motivated by the inspiring stories of creators that have grown with us both personally and professionally.
We have allowed these creators to truly realise their full potential and significantly improve their earnings.
With Drim at the forefront, we are building a new career path for people across India by offering them opportunities to build a bright future for their families – something that matters to me the most.
How is DRIM helping to build a community for women in India?
Yulia Aslamova: At DRIM we’ve built a thriving community of 400+ women who are working from home as influencer talent managers.
These women come from different walks of life- student, housewife, and single parent! The idea is to provide them with easy & free training with absolutely no hidden charges, so that they are ready to work in just 3 weeks!
Infact, 99% of all employees at DRIM are female and most of them are working from home with flexible work hours.
One such story is of Dilshaz Bilakhiya who is a scout and mentor at DRIM. Dilshaz started her journey at DRIM in January 2022 and got promoted to Mentor by May 2022.
She left her corporate job after having a baby and was looking for a work from home opportunity that gave her flexible working hours and time to take care of her baby.
That’s when she found our platform and it was a perfect match. Dilshaz is now perfectly managing work, home and most amazing days with her child.
This proves that sky’s the limit for many more like her at DRIM. If you are looking to kickstart or even re-start your career join our programme at https://drim.one/job
How is influencer marketing helping brands to hype their sales?
Yulia Aslamova: For a good reason, brands now use this new opportunity in the digital world to exhibit themselves on social media platforms.
People now rely on the recommendations of their favourite influencers, as they admire them. Influencer marketing is an excellent opportunity for companies looking to spread their reputation and sell items to their target audience.
Many individuals have purchased things because of what their favourite social media influencers say about them.
Moreover, DRIM helps firms connect more authentically with their target audience by using influencer marketing to increase their brand’s awareness.
For instance, by leveraging performance influencer marketing, we enabled Domino’s Pizza to clock over 400,000 orders in a calendar year.
There are several benefits to integrating influencer marketing into the company when marketing through social media platforms of any kind.
What are the key things to consider before starting a startup?
Yulia Aslamova: While everyone can get excited by the concept of startups, few truly understand what exactly it takes to get started and, more importantly, how to sustain it in the longer run.
One must carefully examine the risks that are involved before gaining clarity on goals and a viable roadmap (why, how to and what to do) before eventually identifying the core motivations they have.
Also, having a contingency plan is always helpful but one must be able to adapt and mould in order to negate unexpected challenges.
Your success tips for young and aspiring entrepreneurs?
Yulia Aslamova: As an entrepreneur, it is one’s responsibility to tackle every scenario with a goal-oriented and problem-solving mindset. This clears the air and helps one stay laser-focused on their main objective.
The next on the list is leadership ability; all successful businesses have been developed by exceptional individuals.
I make sure my team has everything they need to grow and succeed. They should also be allowed to make their own decisions and be free to experiment. We collaborate to put the ideas into action in the most efficient ways possible.
Another key responsibility is to empower fellow females. At DRIM, 99% of the employees are female and we are building a strong women community where every single woman from any part of India, be it a student, be it a housewife with no experience, be it a returnee who can’t compete with others in getting jobs, at DRIM gets a chance to start over and utilise the talent in the most productive way.
Finally, one must have confidence in oneself. It’s important to consider suggestions, pay attention to feedback, and evaluate your work, but ultimately, only you can decide what’s best for your company. You can only develop and succeed if you have a growth mindset.
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