From Lonsdale College to Booming Influencer Ad-Tech Start-Up

Yoke, Lonsdale alumni, startup

Alumnus, Ercan Boyraz (Advertising and Marketing, 2019, Lonsdale) talks about how the friendships he formed on campus have led to an exciting career role.

"It was freshers' week when we first met at the Red Lion bar in Lonsdale college. I remember how we instantly bonded over the fact that we were all from East London and somehow ended up in this far away place called Lancaster that none of us really knew much about until we got there. I knew Jide, Mustafa and Clinton were from London before we even spoke. They carried themselves differently to everyone else; they had a swagger about them. As we were there chatting about what “ends” we were from and the music that we listened to, we never thought that in a few years time we’d be building a startup together and that we’d be more than just friends who’d studied at the same university.

I graduated from Lancaster University in the summer of 2019 with a degree in Advertising and Marketing and started working at Yoke Network, an ad-tech startup founded by my friends Jide and Mustafa. Jide and Mustafa started Yoke in the summer of 2018, with the vision of driving value to brands and apps through social media influencers, whilst also helping influencers monetise their socials. In November 2018, Jide and Mustafa visited Lancaster as mentors for Startup Weekend, an entrepreneurial competition arranged by Lancaster University Management School and it was there that the opportunity for me to join them arose.

At Yoke Network, we are trying to change the social media ecosystem by helping the creators at its core maximise their earnings, whilst also helping advertisers find the right creators they need to win on social media. Companies are too used to giving creators a fixed amount, crossing their fingers and praying for some results. At Yoke we do things differently, we believe that interactions between creators and companies don’t have to be zero-sum. They can be positive-sum, where both sides win.

We have an app for our influencers where they can access campaigns to work on and keep track of their earnings. We’ve also built a system to control the campaigns, matching the offers with the right influencers. Additionally, we are in the process of building a dashboard for our clients to keep track of all the campaigns that we run. Data is at the core of our business and we use it to gain insights into the world of social media, our influencers and to provide value for the clients. This allows us to make informed decisions to keep improving our business and ensure that we are doing the best job that we can.

We currently have a team of nine, five of whom are Lancaster alumni: CEO, Jide Maduako (Business Economics, 2017), CTO, Mustafa Mohamed (MSci Computer Science 2018), Head of Accounts, Clinton Ajayi (Economics, 2017), Developer, James Davies (Computer Science, 2017) and me - Head of Strategy. We were all members of Lonsdale College.

We've worked with various mobile apps ranging from dating apps, fin-tech, social entertainment, productivity as well as hyper casual games. We are also an official partner of TikTok, the social platform which has become an essential part of our business.

2019 has been a fast paced and eventful year for us where we grew from a team of three to nine. We also launched our Influencer app which we use to allocate our campaigns and have added multiple new offerings to our business, namely TikTok Influencer campaigns, native ads and Influencer management for TikTok creators. We have big plans for 2020 and expect to see even greater growth. Firstly we want to scale our core product and continue driving value to mobile clients through CPI user acquisition with influencers. We also want to help brands win on TikTok and help them make the most of the fastest growing social media platform in the world. Crucial for this aim we seek to grow awareness of the marketing potential of TikTok and help brands kick start their presence on the platform. For our newest service which is Influencer Management for TikTok creators, we have ambitions to continue supporting the UK TikTok scene and ensure that these creators are monetising their influence and receiving the value and recognition they deserve."

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