Influencer incubators foster new social media talent

While macro-influencers are useful to companies who desire access to a large audience, micro-influencers are a more affordable option when trying to appeal to a more niche and engaged following. The following influencer incubators are identifying and investing in rising influencers to help them grow their social media presence as well as their marketing capabilities.


Beauty guru Patrick Starrr is passing on his knowledge to the next generation of influencers through his new influencer incubator and talent management company, The Beauty Coop. Starrr has already signed seven fledgling beauty influencers to his company, including beauty boys Zackary Vang, Cohl’s World, and Jose Jimenez. Along with showing his influencers how to properly light, film, and edit their content, Starrr will be connecting them with the right brands. To wit, Vang and Cohl already inked their first collaboration with Buxom called Boy Babe. Starrr shot and edited the campaign himself.


E.l.f. Cosmetics is investing in influencer talent through Beautyscape, its micro-influencer incubator program. Last year, Beautyscape partnered with online publication Bustle for a media partnership that saw program applications grow from 600 to 1,400. Twenty-five of those entrants were chosen to attend a four-day retreat in the Bahamas where they heard from speakers like Ouai founder Jen Atkin and Chillhouse CEO Cyndi Ramirez. At the end of the trip, five influencers won a prize of $10,000, as well as the opportunity to work on an E.l.f. makeup capsule collaboration that will be released exclusively at Target in 2020.


Chinese influencer agency Ruhnn has taken influencer management to the next level. This influencer incubator identifies top-performing influencers, tests their marketing chops, and does market research to gauge their potential audience reach. Influencers who pass all the stages are given a contract, which includes social media training and product development support. The model appears to be working—Zhang Dayi was the first influencer that Ruhnn invested in; in 2016, she reportedly earned $46 million.