Two years ago, Steven Galanis and Martin Blencowe came up with the idea of creating a marketplace for peronalised video shoutouts. Fast forward 24 months and Cameo has been named one of ‘Time’s 50 Most Genius Companies of 2018’. Plus, just last week, Business Insider announced Cameo as one of ‘57 Tech Starts That Will Boom in 2019’.
I had the chance to have a chat with Abbie Sheppard, Head of Cameo UK/Europe, all about the thriving company that connects fans with their idols, be it a NFL player or a reality TV star.
“It all began when Steven Galanis and his co-founder Martin Blencowe who is a former NFL agent asked Cassius Marsh, formally a Seattle Seahawks player, to record a video for their friend to congratulate him on the birth of his son.” explained Abbie.
Their friend was so pleased with the video, he took to social media and shared the personalised clip. This prompted the same question to be asked over and over- “How did you get that?”.
This gave Galanis and Blencowe, along with help from Devon Spinnler (who you may know from Vine) the idea to create their own video marketplace, connecting fans with their idols.
It all started with of course, Cassius Marsh, who was the first person to sign up and get booked on the platform. Cameo began with a line up of exclusively athletes, but have since branched out and there are thousands of actors, reality stars and social media influencers on board. Today, there are over seven thousand talent on the site.
To book a Cameo, you click on the talent you want, fill in a few details, have 250-characters for a request (is it for a Birthday? A name that’s hard to pronounce?), pay by card and talent have up to seven days to complete. Prices range from $10 up to $1000- Caitlyn Jenner is the highest charging talent- and payment isn’t taken until the Cameo is completed.
Fans can also send in their own reaction videos from their Cameos which are really heartwarming to see.
Abbie explained that the talent set their own prices, which can be changed at any time, and that it is a 75/25% split between talent and Cameo. Talent have the choice whether to accept or decline a request and over 90% get accepted, with only 4% being declined.
“There’s never anything too inappropriate. We do get requests for talent to roast people’s friends, but it’s all in good fun. Trolls are definitely deterred because you have to pay, which is a good thing.”
Cameo’s HQ is in Chicago, has just over 30 employees and is office goals. The LA office has 15 employees and a London office opened in August 2018.
Abbie explained that she moved back to London from Chicago to become the Head of UK/Europe. Working at Cameo, it isn’t your typical 9-5 office job. It’s a social job and you have to be excited about working long days and keeping in touch with the US team.
“The Talent Management team are the point of contact for the talent on the site. If they need assistance with requests, ideas or any worries, Talent Management are there to help.”
New talent is recruited frequently and is usually done through DM’s or through talent referral.
I asked Abbie who she would like to see enrol as talent.
“David Walliams would be a really good one, he’d be funny and do some really cool videos. I’d love to see Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield on there too!”
As for my own experience with Cameo, I received a video from Taylor Louderman as a surprise from my friend. If you’re a regular reader of Earth To Emma, or have even just taken a look at my social media, you’ll know how much I enjoyed seeing Mean Girls on Broadway. So receiving a personalised ‘get well soon’ video from Regina George herself perked me right up!
Although it’s not just birthday wishes and get well soon messages. Talent often give out life lessons; little bits of advice that will spur you on, keep you going. The average length of Cameo video is 30 seconds, but some are more in depth, minutes of motivation and love sent through the screen of your phone or laptop.
Those thirty seconds or two and a half minutes will be the best gift to many fans. Cameo is changing the way we give. It may not a physical present that you can rip open on your birthday or Christmas, but the feeling you get when your number-one-idol is speaking directly to you is a feeling fans will want to feel everyday…and with the downloadable video, they can.
Cameo is extremely well deserving of its sought-after place on the genius lists and the company is only going to continue to grow and inspire many individuals through its talent.