The emergence of the celebrity business adviser

SXSW 2012 FEATUREI’ve been at the SXSW Interactive Festival over here in Austin, Texas. This place has given me a brain spasm. I’ve been exposed to so many ideas and new technologies, and have met so many interesting people that I’m certainly suffering from information overload. I’ll be reporting back over the next week but, in the meantime, here is the post I wrote for Enterprise on the emergence of the celebrity business adviser.

Forget about Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga. It seems the days of the celebrity endorsement are numbered. Startups are now looking towards celebrity business advisers to lend their advice, expertise and imprimatur to their fledgling brand. And they’re giving away equity to make it happen.

This was the theme at a panel called “Advise this! Match-making startups and high profile advisers” at the South by South West Interactive Festival held earlier this week in Austin, Texas.

Team of advisers
Tony Conrad is co-founder of about.me, which creates splash pages that point visitors to your content on the internet. He pulled together a team of advisers including technology reporter Veronica Belmont, Digg and Oink founder Kevin Rose and best-selling author Tim Ferriss. “There were four of us [on staff] and 26 advisers at the beginning,” says Conrad.

He explains that the association with his advisers has been integral to the success of about.me. “When Kevin Rose tweets that he’s set up an about.me page, that’s has an impact,” says Conrad. “If we created billboards on about.me on a highway, people aren’t going to see it and pull over and sign up to about.me. But if we have billboards of Veronica, she actually thinks that’s pretty cool. So she tweets about it.” Her followers then go check it out.

You can read the full Enterprise article here.

About Valerie Khoo

Valerie Khoo is founder and national director of the Australian Writers' Centre, the country's leading centre for writing courses. She is a journalist, blogger and author. Her latest book is "Power Stories: The 8 stories you MUST tell to build an epic business" (Wiley). Valerie is co-founder of SocialCallout.com and is an investor and mentor to startups and businesses in Australia.