Gonzalez Hauger brothers in the influence business

two young men outdoors
Marco and Bruno Gonzalez

It’s not uncommon to see famous social media personalities influence for businesses. Influencing on Instagram refers to when a social media personality is compensated for posting some kind of promotional content for a brand. By putting a familiar face to the brands, companies have enjoyed substantial growth in sales. However, this had led to scenarios where influencers can charge exorbitant amounts of money to endorse a brand. For instance, Kylie Jenner can charge up to $1,000,000 for an Instagram post. As more people realize how much money these influencers make for endorsements, they trust them less because their enormous compensation de-legitimizes their “opinions.” This effect can be seen in the occasional ‘sellout’ comments that often appear under an influencer’s sponsored post.

While it is not often the case that social media personalities charge over $1,000,000 to advocate for a brand, there are still YouTube channels and budding influencers who rely on sponsorships to support themselves. Bruno Gonzalez Hauger explains, “Large influencers are getting paid millions for advocating for big brands, and the trust factor is lost. Micro influencers are Instagrammers in the 50,000 to 100,000 follower range who are more affordable for businesses, but still may charge thousands per post. We found an even more effective influencing tool for businesses large and small– he nano-influencer.”

Gonzalez Hauger ’21 is a junior at Syracuse University studying
advertising at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. Gonzalez Hauger is also the Co-founder and CEO of Ambassadoor Technologies an iOS mobile app, along with his brother Marco Gonzalez Huager, who is CTO.

“Ambassadoor targets nano-influencers,” says Gonzalez Hauger, referring to the vast number of influencers with fewer than 5,000 followers who comprise up to 70% of Instagram members. “We want to make it easy for them to be paid,” says Gonzalez Hauger, who explains that people who interact with others on a regular basis, can also be effective influencers. “This has the added effect of personalizing brands that the influencer chooses, rather than simply a business looking to increase sales via marketing.”

Gonzalez Hauger first developed Ambassadoor when he was working at TNH, a student run advertising agency based in Newhouse.  There, he was tasked with reaching out to influencers for the agency. Gonzalez Hauger soon found out that the process was incredibly time consuming and largely inefficient. He then reached out to his younger brother, Marco, who had the coding expertise to start Ambassadoor. The next day the development began. The idea of the company was to make a platform for businesses to search for and connect with influencers.  By simplifying the process of influencer hunting, businesses could save time.  Moreover, by taking advantage of dedicated Instagrammers, small businesses could have a fresh approach to advertising, which they had not been able to previously reach.

The company, which was started in November of 2018, launched a beta version that launched in October 2019. Primarily based in the Syracuse University area, local retailers and shops worked with Ambassadoor. The beta test helped the team deploy their system to a small population, to gain feedback and continue to work on product iteration, building on their strengths and addressing any issues they discovered through the test phase.

“In a year and a half, we want at least 100 Syracuse businesses and at least 1,000 influencers on the platform,” says Gonzalez Hauger.

Ambassadoor is a fairly unconventional method of advertising. In an age where online ads are targeted using internet search patterns and big data analysis, Ambassadoor hopes to challenge the norm and take a step towards data privacy. By introducing the human element to business interactions, the company aims to move away from a merely data-driven approach. “We are taking a step back from numbers and want people and brands to be connected.”

Gonzalez Hauger says that his brother has been incredibly instrumental in developing Ambassador. He also believes that the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by TechStars has been helpful in developing the company. He says that the collaborative environment, and the collective expertise of the LaunchPad members has helped in building specific aspects of the business.

His hard work is paying off.  Last week he won the $7,500 first place award in the technology and entertainment category of the iSchool’s RVD iPrize, which was coordinated by the LaunchPad.  He also won first place in that same category in Compete CNY, the regional qualifier for the New York Business Plan Competition, also coordinated by the LaunchPad.  He’ll be headed to the statewide finals, held May 1.

“Now, more than ever businesses need to stand out and advertise more effectively on social media,” says Gonzalez Hauger. “We have a solution. Nano-influencing is on the rise and we want to take advantage of this opportunity quickly and effectively. Social media will be around for years to come, but the industry will be moving in the social media, narrowcasting direction. Using real people with real influence, advertisers can have a more personal connection with their audience than ever before, and for not a lot of money, maximizing organic reach, and engagement.”

Story by Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow Krishna Pamidi Photo supplied