That the media sector is increasingly events and experiences driven (think activations too) is not under dispute. Now a former marketing executive for a JSE-listed company has thrown his lot and his savings into creating an online portal that allows companies to find and manage events and activations staff.
Nick Holdcroft says clients don’t just understand the concept, but are lining up to get in on the ground floor. “I have had investment offers from some of South Africa’s biggest agencies,” he says. In short, he says, “Peepz is an online portal to find and manage event and activation staff. It’s a simple explanation, but it’s the detail that really does justice to the way the system works. We are finding ways to maximise value and efficiencies to brands and agencies, as well as connecting them to candidates that can deliver on their campaigns.”
Holdcroft said an agency has bought into the idea and is backing them with initial development. “But, we are bootstrapping this business day-by-day. It’s great to see your long days and even longer evenings turn into something tangible,” he says.
Just this week a corporate signed up their events team. “It’s a longer sell with many stakeholders, but it’s incredibly exciting,” Holdcroft adds.
Holdcroft (left) launched Peepz in December 2018 after investing in the development of the platform. “I tried paying for it with my salary while still employed, but that was getting me nowhere slowly, so I left my job and put my savings into the development,” he says. “I’m lucky to have an extremely supportive wife that holds things together when I decide that more development is needed.”
The point of Peepz, he says, is to create administrative efficiencies, save costs and lower the margin for error. Bottom line: it modernises event staffing. From corporate events to activations, sales promotions and product sampling, the Peepz portal allows clients to choose everyone from brand ambassadors, promoters and models to bar tenders and service staff.
Holdcroft believes below the line marketing “has always been viewed as the advertising industry’s ugly sister” but that recent big buyouts like the TCC’s sale for a reported R1-billion have proved that it is an industry which has been undervalued in the market. “What many brand marketers may not know is that their agencies are making up to 100% mark-up on their staff,” he explains.
He reckons the value chain in event staffing is extremely bloated. “A corporate could be charged R160 per hour, the event company pays a staffing agency R140 per hour, and the candidate gets R80 per hour if they lucky. So we are hoping to show our clients ways to save budget by booking the candidates directly. We are not trying to replace agencies, we built Peepz to make their lives easier and bring a level of transparency to our industry.”
So far, he has over 1 000 ‘peepz’ on the platform and he hopes to build that to over 10 000 by the end of the year. “Gauteng has been exceptionally successful already, with a small base in KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape, and we hope to build other regions over the coming months,” he says.
Launching such a new concept is challenging, with financing being tough but, says Holdcroft, managing people has been the most difficult.
“Working with people that don’t share your vision is extremely time consuming and motivation sapping. It took a moment of madness of saying ‘enough is enough, let’s do this professionally’, for me to find partners that saw the vision and committed to delivering something we could be proud of,” he says.
With South Africa’s economy on a shaky footing, is this the right time to launch a new business? “I’m an eternal optimist about South Africa. There’s still lots of opportunity in our incredible country. There is tons of work out there, it’s about working hard to find ways to get it. We can only hope Peepz is a positive contributor to the people of South Africa.”
But of course, there must be aspects that keep him up at night. “The pressure to get gigs loaded on Peepz,” says Holdcroft. “I have over 1 000 people that have put their trust in the system and now it’s my turn to return the favour and find the clients to make sure that they have opportunities.”
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