Jim Fields: Co-founder of relay.club
Senior Marketing Manager
What was your background before relay.club?
I grew up in Silicon Valley in the US and spent my childhood making movies on a Hi8 camera and being immersed in the technology world - as companies like Google turned into internet giants all around me.
I began studying Chinese in my teenage years and into university. In 2009, I had an opportunity to travel to Beijing as part of a study abroad program - and I fell in love with the dynamism and sense of opportunity I found in China. And I’ve been here ever since!
In 2016, I previously founded a company called Relay Video helping Chinese companies create videos for international audiences. In this company, I built up a deep network of Chinese brand marketers and started to understand the needs of Chinese brands.
Additionally, I’m also a YouTuber and video creator on Chinese platforms like Bilibili - creating short videos about Chinese technology and how it’s changing the way people live.
What made you start relay.club?
Being a content creator myself, I gradually started to receive more and more inquiries from Chinese brands for collaboration as my channel grew. But I noticed these inquiries were not very effective. Often the emails I received were filled with grammatical and logical errors and demonstrated a lack of understanding of my channel. Sometimes these emails from brands would even get my name wrong!
I realized at that moment that there was a tremendous opportunity to help Chinese brands that are interested in working with global KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders), otherwise known as influencers. Given my deep understanding of Chinese brands and also my personal experience as an influencer on global social media platforms, I realized that there was a great opportunity to help connect these two unique groups of people.
What’s your vision for relay.club?
Right now there is a huge population of global content creators who make high-quality content but have yet to achieve sufficient brand sponsorships to turn their video channels into paying careers. Through relay.club, we plan to enable these passionate content creators to find brand partners for their content, allowing them to monetize their content, and thereby find ways to potentially move into embracing their passions as full-time careers.
At the same time, there is a huge opportunity that exists to help Chinese and other Asian brands as they continue their expansion worldwide. Much like the Japanese brands (like Sony, Honda, and Toyota) that became global juggernauts in the 80s and 90s, Chinese brands are stepping into the global stage in a major way - and finding wide appeal with global consumers. But right now Chinese brands struggle to connect authentically with foreign audiences - which is why influencers are becoming an ever-more-important tool for ambitious brands as they scale overseas.
Right now Chinese brands struggle to connect authentically with foreign audiences - which is why influencers are becoming an ever-more-important tool for ambitious brands as they scale overseas.
Therefore, we aim to offer a complete platform, filled with tools for Chinese/Asian brands to find, outreach to, and collaborate with global social media influencers. Our tools will represent a one-stop shop for brand needs - from search and discovery to robust communication and outreach tools, onwards to negotiation and contracting, all the way through to payments and campaign performance analysis.
Concurrently, we are also creating ways for influencers to search for campaigns and brand sponsorship opportunities through the platform - to create a double-sided platform, with strong network effects as more and more brands and influencers are able to connect with one another.
We aim to offer a complete platform, filled with tools for Chinese/Asian brands to find, outreach to, and collaborate with global social media influencers.
As our platform continues to mature, we also plan to scale beyond the China market, first into other regions in Southeast Asia, then onwards to other developing markets worldwide.
Influencer marketing has started growing actively 5-6 years ago and many platforms entered the market since then offering similar services. What sets relay.club apart?
There are indeed many platforms, but none of them solve the specific problems of Chinese and other Asian brands going global- related to language and communication, project management, and financial transaction.
China is by far the biggest eCommerce market on planet Earth, and Chinese brands are expanding overseas in ever-greater numbers year on year. But right now, most competitor influencer marketing platforms are only targeting foreign brands in markets outside China - and also don’t offer tools optimized for brands in China.
Given our team’s deep understanding of Chinese brands and also the specific needs of foreign influencers, we have designed a set of systems that make this process smooth and seamless for both parties.
Given our team’s deep understanding of Chinese brands and also the specific needs of foreign influencers, we have designed a set of systems that make this process smooth and seamless for both parties - thereby connecting the world’s largest eCommerce market with an extremely fast-growing segment of global social media influencers worldwide.
How do you see relay.club growing over the years?
Our business has already grown extremely rapidly. We officially started building our platform in November 2021, and our product launched (out of beta) in April 2022. Since then, we have roughly doubled our number of paying subscribers month-on-month - and expect this trend to accelerate in the future.
At the same time, we want to build a sustainable business that continues to closely listen to and monitor customer needs, and continue to develop and expand the product to make it even more useful to brands and influencers. Additionally, we plan to finance our growth primarily through customer acquisition and re-investment of revenue into our business - unlike other competitors that have relied mostly on venture capital funds to scale.
Within the next 3 years, we anticipate becoming the dominant cross-border influencer marketing platform in China, as well as opening branch offices in three to five additional markets in Southeast Asia. Within the next 5 years, we aim to have multi-regional offices in both Asia and in at least two other global hubs - most likely India and North America.
Any talents or interests you would like to share?
Outside of my work as a founder and influencer, I’m also an amateur strongman. This is a type of weightlifting you sometimes see on TV - with large men who pull trucks with ropes, or hurl kegs of beer over fences or pick up cars with their own two hands. I’ve found the training and physical challenge of this sport to be a nice antidote to software development - which is often more of a mental battle.
Why should anybody join the club?
When we set up this company we decided to call it relay.club - because relay was the name of our prior video business and carried strong brand equity, but also because were attracted to the idea of building a “club.”
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with clubs - and the idea of being a part of being part of an inclusive, fun, and energizing group of people has always been very exciting to me.
In 2022, so much information about influencer marketing is siloed and secretive. We wanted to flip the script and make this world much more inclusive, collaborative, and fun. So we decided to build a club - the relay.club - and we are building it brick by brick, day by day.
So if you’re interested in joining our little (but growing) club, either as an influencer, as a brand, or as a member of our team - please get in touch with me and we’ll talk! My email is: email@example.com - or feel free to reach me on WeChat at: jimfields
Senior Marketing Manager
Amina is a Marketing Manager with a wide range of marketing skills. Previously she worked for international tech start-ups as a content specialist, social media and influencer manager. Her biggest passions - communications and visual art - help build strong relationships with creators and deliver selling content for brands.
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