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Welcome to the brave new world of bio-preneurs

Illustration of someone falling, Madonna and a phone v2

It’s 5 AM and I’m aimlessly scrolling through Instagram as I battle my two-hour jet lag for the sixth night in a row since a trip to South Africa. My circadian rhythm is pathetic, and I don’t have enough self-control to charge my phone in another room. I’ve also broken my New Year’s resolution which was to replace social media consumption with Business Leader articles.

As the algorithm introduces me to new faces, an interesting pattern emerges. If the user I click on has more than 100,000 followers, 90% of the time they have a company, or six, listed as businesses they have co-founded in their bio. Gone are the days of quirky one-liners, or actual biographical information. And here I am, guilty as charged, with my bio proudly flaunting three businesses and a venture capital fund. When did creators all become entrepreneurs and why is this happening?

To comprehend the bio-preneurship epidemic, we need to rewind the clock to a time before TikTok. The year is 1982, a year before the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X – the first commercially available mobile phone – was released. Actor and race car driver Paul Newman launches Newman’s Own, a food company donating profits to charity. This marks the beginning of a trend where celebrities transcend their primary domains to become entrepreneurs. Elizabeth Taylor ventures into perfumes, Madonna conquers fashion, and the boxer George Foreman starts grilling burgers.

The trend continues with modern figures such as Jay-Z, the rapper who not only dominates music but also establishes Rocawear, Roc Nation, and an empire spanning champagne, tech, real estate, and more. While celebrity entrepreneurship is not new, it traditionally required a higher level of fame and occurred less frequently.

Of course, with the democratisation of audiences created by social media, once-distant ‘stars’ now have a direct line to their fans, reshaping the commerce landscape. However, what sets today’s creators apart is the entrepreneurial muscle they build as they launch their channels from scratch, carrying various responsibilities such as production, editing and audience engagement.

This contrasts with the trajectory of traditional celebrities who rely on gatekeepers to propel them to stardom. Creators do not wait for executives to present ideas – they proactively create. While many people have excellent ideas, transforming them into reality requires entrepreneurial muscle, some spare time, financial flexibility and being in the right stage of life to take risks. Creators usually possess all such advantages to start a business. But the question remains: do these bio-businesses work?

At first, a lot do but then most struggle. For a normal entrepreneur, getting that first bit of customer traction is difficult. For creators, it’s easy. They have a built-in customer base willing to support their new line of natural lipstick made from honey produced in the Cotswolds. The problem is that this gives them a false sense of traction, not actually proving any sort of product-market fit. The bigger the audience, the more difficult it is to know whether or not something is taking flight or is being artificially carried by the bio-preneurs. For some, it doesn’t matter, EBITDA is EBITDA, but investors beware, an artificial customer acquisition cost will make life difficult when a creator loses relevancy or runs out of fans.

Magic happens when a creator finds true product-market fit while taking advantage of their inbuilt marketing resources to expedite the process. The journey demands not just creativity but the ability to navigate the complexities of business. The rise of the bio-preneur marks a new era, one where creators wield not just influence but the capacity to shape industries and economies. Now, it’s time to throw my phone down and get some sleep.

Caspar Lee is the co-founder of Influencer.com and Creator Ventures

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