Bringing Instagram into the Digital Media Spotlight (Part 2)
Lxgic Inc. President and Representative Director Kenta Hiruma started Lxgic Inc. in June of 2015. This company is launching a service called Expaus in which companies that want to promote services or merchandise are matched with influential Instagram users. While there are many companies that use Instagram as a tool for PR, it is the first platform in Japan where Instagramers and companies are connected. We sat down with 23 year old Mr. Hiruma and spoke with him about how he built a platform to connect businesses with influential Instagram users and what his vision is.
Read Part 1 Here.
What aspect of Expaus is most popular among clients?Kenta Hiruma (a.k.a Mr. Hiruma): The personalized analysis tool that measures campaign efficacy and provides detailed follower & account analysis. With Instagram’s API, it is not possible to get data on efficacy. Expaus allows companies to work with Instagramers that have characteristics sought by clients, such as Instagram follower range and male to female ratio. For example, in order to promote cosmetics targeted at women in their 20s, the company would be able to team up with, for example, a 20 year old Instagramer who has many female followers to achieve the desired results. Moreover, Expaus makes it easy for companies to measure engagement and reach. I also have experience as an engineer; so I can implement any specific client requests. What are your thoughts on using Instagram for Branding in the present and for the future?Mr. Hiruma: While using Instagramers as a form of PR is becoming more widespread, in Japan there in fact many companies that have yet to make an account. Therefore, I believe it is necessary to increase awareness of the methods in which the influence of Instagramers and Instagram can be used as a PR strategy.With more success stories, there should be a turn towards using other SNS platforms, including Instagram, for PR and Branding. Ultimately I want to expand Expaus into a platform where collaboration can happen across all influential SNS channels, such as YouTube, Twitter, and Snapchat. If the focus stays only on Instagram, in 2 or 3 years we will likely see our popularity plateau. Therefore I believe it is key to connect with influencers across many channels in order to provide a lasting service. What efforts are being made to expand this service not just nationally, but internationally as well?Mr. Hiruma: A few days ago we were able to partner up with a company in Hungry that is well established and has many connections with many influential marketing personalities such as various AC Milan Soccer players. So we are very hopeful to expand into Europe with the possibility of casting international celebrities. What are a few things young venturing entrepreneurs should know or be made aware of?Mr. Hiruma: I would say it is important for it to be a business that the entrepreneur themselves can continue overtime with an undying passion. There will undoubtedly be criticism and negative reactions when doing entrepreneur work. So it all depends whether, despite the criticisms, you are able to continue your business with a passionate attitude. If it is something you enjoy then you will always be able to think “what can I do to overcome this”, even when people react negatively. When all you are thinking about is whether or not it will make money, then when you hit a wall, and I think it is hard to move forward with the business.When I started as an entrepreneur as a student, there were Start Up platforms as well as fellow student entrepreneurs around me. However only about 30 percent get to the stage of releasing their service. Many students quit after investors tell them that their business would be too difficult, but I think that it shouldn’t be abandoned until an archetype of the business is realized. I think it is essential to have feedback from real users, even if the prototype is very simple.Moreover, if you come across an interesting business, the ability to take action and reach out to them is extremely important as well. Despite their business schedules, when you reach out to successful entrepreneurs they often ask you to come in the next day and will make time to give you extremely useful advice. They are extremely nice to people attempting to step up to a new challenge and are very supportive. Having the proactive attitude of reaching out if something sparks your interest and being willing to learn is at the heart of getting a business to grow. Lastly, can you tell us a little bit about your future vision as an entrepreneur?Mr. Hiruma: In terms of the business and influencer side, I think the next 2 to 3 years will be telling. Ideally by attracting many SNS influencers, the collaboration with companies will happen almost automatically. Our next plan is to focus on AR (Augmented Reality) to create an interactive platform that showcases the travels of specific influencers. We want to create a platform where influencers are able to show delicious foods and beautiful places, and share places only locals know of in their country with the world through pictures and video. This form of advertising is easier to realize and earns more compared to written media. If we are able to take it a step further and combine it with AR, then even if you are in Japan, you can feel as if you are touring around in, for example, Italy. While I have experience using AR to launch Apps, I believe there are many more undiscovered possibilities with AR. Within the year I hope to create a prototype and investigate user response. In this way I hope to create more to be able to share with the world ways to make money while pursuing your hobbies.